A child with a bad attitude affects more than just his own reactions to different situations. His poor attitude brings everyone down with him, souring experiences and making day-to-day interactions difficult. A negative child is rarely negative without just cause; his negativity is often the result of other issues in his life. In the rare case that your child's negativity is an actual behavioral disorder, a child psychologist can evaluate and suggest a treatment plan.
What Lies Underneath
Your child harbors a negative attitude for a variety of reasons. In some cases, a negative attitude is the way your child deals with things that are out of her control, such as changes in her life: a new school, moving houses or even a change in the family. By controlling her response to the changes, she uses defiance to tell you she's displeased. Negative attitudes are also often the result of your own example as a parent, so evaluate your own attitude as part of your disciplinary plan.
Forethought is Invaluable
Prevention is one of the best coping methods for a negative attitude. If you know in advance how your child will react to a change, news or an activity, it's easier to work with that knowledge to prevent defiance and a cranky disposition. For instance, letting your child know well in advance of a change and giving him the power to make certain personal choices helps him to stop seeking to take control using his negative attitude. Before you make changes or ask your child to complete a task, consider how it'll be received to anticipate how to soften the blow and make for a more cooperative child.
Coping and Reaction
The way you react to your child's negative attitude will have a bearing on how the attitude affects you and the rest of your family. By focusing on your child's positive qualities, she learns that she receives more positive feedback without the negative attitude. Ignore her cranky, negative disposition so she no longer receives attention for being negative. Talk to her about her feelings and give her the tools to express herself to you, so you communicate more and deal with sulking less. Allow natural consequences to affect your child when she behaves negatively. She'll soon learn that friends and family avoid her when she's negative and gravitate toward her when she's more positive and pleasant.
Oppositional Defiant Disorder
While most kids demonstrate a poor attitude every now and again, certain children are especially negative and argumentative on an ongoing basis. Oppositional Defiant Disorder is a behavioral disorder which causes children to be defiant, negative, argumentative and generally unpleasant. Often combined with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, a child psychologist can help you create a treatment plan for Oppositional Defiant Disorder which includes behavior modification, medications and therapy to help improve your child's disposition.