Helping Kids Have a More Positive Attitude

It’s not always easy to see the positive things in life, especially for kids. But having a positive attitude and outlook makes solving life’s problems much easier. Showing your children how to turn a negative attitude around can help teach them some important coping skills that will serve them well throughout life. The following activities can be a great way to introduce these conversations to your kids.

Make Attitude Acrostics

Child on merry go round


Images By Tang Ming Tung

An acrostic is a neat way of helping your child figure out what traits are common to people with positive attitudes. These can serve as reminders or prompts about things they can do to adopt the same outlook. Here's how to use one:

  1. Begin by giving your child a piece of paper and asking them to write the word "attitude" vertically down the left side of the paper in capital letters.
  2. Set a timer for five minutes and brainstorm with your child about all the traits and characteristics that you both see in people with a good outlook on life. At this point, don’t worry about whether the traits begin with the letters found in the word “attitude.”
  3. Next, ask your child to remember some of those traits and rework them so they fit in the acrostic.

Example Attitude Acrostic

Always sees the good in a situation.

Tries to find solutions to problems.

Takes time to appreciate the little things.

Is happy with what they have.

Takes responsibility for their actions.

Understands the need to listen to other people’s opinions and thoughts.

Doesn’t complain often.

Enjoys life.

The "Attitude Inventory" Activity

Taking an “attitude inventory” is a lot like taking the inventory of a store or your child’s closet. In this case, you’re asking your child to take stock of what traits are and are not present in people with certain types of attitudes.

Give your child a piece of paper and a pencil and ask them the following questions, one at a time. (If your child is not yet able to write well, they can dictate her answers to you.)

  • Write down the name of someone you think typically has a good attitude. What clues tell you this person has a positive attitude and why do you think they're like that?
  • Write down the name of someone you think typically has a poor attitude. What signs indicate this person has a negative attitude?
  • When you think of the person with a negative attitude, what things or which people do you think put that person in that mood?
  • Do you think you can have a bad attitude one day and a good one the next? Why or why not? What influences that?
  • Do you have to have a bad attitude if things aren't going your way, or do you think it’s possible to have a good attitude even when things you don't like are happening? Tell me why.
  • Are there things in your life you’d like to change to help you have a more positive attitude?
  • If negative stuff is happening to you, are there things you can do to keep your outlook positive? Tell me about a few of them.

The "Turn It Around" Attitude Activity

As your child may have discovered when doing the "attitude inventory," how they look at or react to things can make a big difference in their overall attitude.

The "turn it around" activity is designed to help them learn some self-talk skills to reframe circumstances and issues in a more positive way.

1. Give your child another piece of paper and ask them to fold it into thirds. Ask them to write three of the following headings on the front side of the paper and three on the backside of the paper: 

  • School
  • Friends
  • Family
  • Home
  • Self-Image
  • Activities

2. Now ask them to think about any problems they are having in any of these areas. Once they have an idea, have them list it in the correct column as an actionable question. (For example: “How can I get along better with my brother?” as opposed to “My brother keeps bugging me.”)

3. Once they have listed the problems that affect their attitude, ask them to reframe these problems by asking themselves:

  • How do I feel about this?
  • Do I enjoy having this problem or do I want to solve it?
  • Have I been blaming other people for this problem?
  • What will happen in the short-term if I don’t solve this problem? What about the long-term?
  • What little things can I do to work toward solving this problem?
  • How do I have to change my attitude to solve the problem?
  • What will happen once this problem is resolved?

Often, working through one or several of these questions can help a child take a step back and gain the perspective they need.