Diagnosis

You can develop a specific plan to help change your kid's judgmental attitude by answering these Five W's of Attitude Awareness.

Why. What is your best guess as to why your kid is so critical? Is he mimicking the attitude of others in the family? Looking for attention? Seeking to provoke a reaction? Wanting revenge? Overexposed to negative messages? Think what might be provoking his judgmental attitude. Next, eliminate more serious causes. For instance, could your child be anxious about something or suffering from low self-esteem? Talk to other adults who know your child well.Ask them if they think any of these factors could be provoking negativity.

What. Is there any particular thing your child expresses negativity about? Is there a pattern? For instance, is he more negative when it comes to schoolwork? Any particular subject? A teacher? A sport?

Who. Who are the primary recipients of his negative barbs: a sibling, cousin, friend, teacher, coach, babysitter? You? Why? Are there some individuals he does not use his negative ways on? If so, who? Why not? Are there particular situations or people who cause the negative behavior to flare up? Or is he mostly negative toward himself? Why?

When. When did the attitude start? Were there any new events that happened around the same time—a new teacher, school difficulties, relationship frictions, a hectic schedule, a family change—that might have triggered the attitude? Are there times of the day or circumstances where you don't see negativity? Why or why not? Write down any patterns you notice.

Where. Are there certain places he is more likely to be negative (at school, home, the store, Grandma's)? Why? Are there particular situations or places that cause the attitude to flare up?

Now take a look at your answers.Are you seeing any predictable patterns? Do you have any better understanding of your kid's judgmental attitude and where it's coming from?

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