As a child psychologist and parent, I have a soft spot in my heart for kids who default to negative thinking when faced with daily stressors, big or small. You know the kind…life is too hot, too cold, too tight, smells weird, has a brown spot, is unfair, on purpose, not good enough, always this and never that. These chronic complainers view life in all-or-nothing terms, can turn a minor problem into an instant catastrophe, cherry-pick out the bad, and give up when something is hard. Negative thinkers view everyday obstacles as unchangeable and inescapable, and often their fault–quite a roadmap for feeling helpless and out of ideas for success. Their confidence, family relationships, friendships, and mood suffer under the weight of default rigidity and impossible happiness. Negative kids have taught me a lot about just how discouraging and painful it is to have such a grouchy brain and how much they want adults to understand they are not being difficult on purpose.
I also feel for the parents of negative thinkers who try so hard to cheerlead, reassure, and reason with that child, hoping against hope that somehow optimism will win. When it doesn’t work, even the most patient parent can resort to scolding, yelling, and belittling, resulting in two upset people who feel misunderstood. The more you argue with a negative kid, the more they up the ante of often dumbfounding evidence to support their cynical point of view. Hurtful and unhelpful exchanges only fuel a child’s negative ride. This is where parents need the most help. They need to understand what is at the core of negativity, how their behavior stokes the fire, and what to do instead.
“Like prickly weeds in a flower garden, a negative child can quickly kill the joy of a celebration, destroy the peace in a household, and ruin a special occasion with a few simple words. “
Reviewer of Navigating Negativity: Practical Parenting Strategies to Reduce Conflict and Create Calm
I wrote the book Navigating Negativity: Practical Parenting Strategies to Reduce Conflict and Create Calm as a starting place for parents who are tired of negativity being in charge at their house. The best part about the book is that none of the strategies require the child’s cooperation! Caregivers discover just what might be behind their child’s negative mindset, how adult responses could be encouraging their child to hold on tight to that rigid response, and what to do instead. The best chapter is the one that gives parents ideas on how to nurture a positive household every other minute of the day when their child is NOT in meltdown mode. I really tried to craft every chapter to provide practical information that does not