The Edmond Sun

Features

April 19, 2013

LIVING WITH CHILDREN: Take care of negativity before it becomes a social handicap

BOSTON — Q: Our 7-year-old son is very negative about everything. He's a middle child, so that may have something to do with it, but everyone else in the family is very happy, positive, optimistic, and so on. He never has anything positive to say about anything. Things the rest of us enjoy he says are "stupid" or "dumb." We raise all of our kids the same, so we don't understand where the negativity is coming from, or what to do about it. It's beginning to drive us a tad batty. In fact, we are starting to not want him around us, which is causing us guilt. By the way, he's often this way around his friends and other people. We've tried talking, but that's gotten us nowhere. We hesitate to punish for fear that he can't help it. Any ideas?

A:
So, if I understand you correctly, you are beginning to have a negative reaction to your son's negativity. That's perfectly understandable. As for not wanting your son around you, that's perfectly understandable as well. You are obligated to love him unconditionally. You are not obligated to like everything about him. In this case, the behavior in question is clearly anti-social. As he grows, if this isn't checked soon, it's going to become a significant social handicap.

As for why he's this way, some professional might tender a guess, but it would only be a guess. The most likely explanation is "just because." Maybe because he discovered, quite accidentally, and early on in his life, that being negative in a family of positive people caused him to stand out, to get lots of attention. That's a guess, mind you, but it's one informed by lots of parenting experience, both personal and professional.

The problem is that like certain behaviors, emotions can become habits. That's not a problem when the emotion in question is functional (e.g., an optimistic outlook), but it can become a major problem when it's anti-social (e.g., finding humor in other people's tragedies). A person who repeatedly says, "Life stinks," is in danger of coming to believe it, despite lots of evidence to the contrary. Likewise, your son is in danger of his negativity becoming a habit. The good news is that he's young enough for you to head that off at the proverbial pass.

First, you sit down with him privately, when he's not in a foul mood, and you gently confront him with his gloom and doom attitude. You tell him that it's not appropriate, that he lives a better life than 90 percent of the world's kids (true), and that bad moods affect other people in bad ways. So, from now on he won't be allowed to be around the rest of the family if he's in a bad mood. You're simply going to send him to his very nice room to meditate on his bad attitude. When he can be happy, he can rejoin the family. In other words, you take away his audience.

When you're making plans to go somewhere or do anything as a family, ask him, "Do you think what we're going to do is stupid? Because if you do, we can find you a very mean and ugly babysitter and you can stay home. You're only invited if you can be happy, like the rest of us." The overwhelming likelihood is that he'll want to be included in the event. Right? Right!

That approach (I call it loving confrontation) will force your son to begin practicing a positive attitude. Within a few months, if not sooner, you should have a much more likeable middle child on your hands.

Family psychologist John Rosemond answers parents' questions on his website at www.rosemond.com.

1
Text Only
Features
  • Keep these tips in mind for May gardening

    Here are a few things to keep in mind as you head into your May gardening routine. Keep ahead of the weeds. We are always happy for the rain, but wet ground can keep us out of the garden and that allows weeds to grow by leaps and bounds. Now is the time to guard tender plants such as tomatoes, eggplant and peppers against sudden late frosts. During the first part of May you may be planting beans, early corn, okra and late potatoes. You also may be replacing tomato plants lost to late frosts. Finish setting out cabbage, lettuce, cauliflower, beets, etc.
    Here are some things to do:

    April 24, 2014

  • Cats outsmart the researchers

    I knew a lot had been written about dogs, and I assumed there must be at least a handful of studies on cats. But after weeks of scouring the scientific world for someone - anyone - who studied how cats think, all I was left with was this statement, laughed over the phone to me by one of the world's top animal cognition experts, a Hungarian scientist named Ádám Miklósi.

    April 23, 2014

  • clock edit.jpg Antique clock collection on display at Edmond Library

    In a world that’s often hurried and brief, the Sooner Time Collectors have nothing but time. Oklahoma chapter members of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors have provided antique pieces from personal collections to display at the Edmond Library until the end of April.
    Since the 1950s, Sooner Time Collectors have gathered to learn about the inner workings of clocks and to admire one-of-a-kind finds. Of interest to the community is their involvement with repairs for the Cowboy Hall of Fame clock and the UCO tower. They now have 35 members who meet monthly as a chapter of the 16,000-member NAWCC community across America and the world.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Be on the lookout for termites

    Warming temperatures and spring rainfall means swarming conditions for the homeowners’ nemesis in Oklahoma — the termite.
    Termites are Mother Nature’s way of recycling dead wood, as well as aerating the soil and increasing its fertility and water percolation. They are an important food source for other insects, spiders, reptiles, amphibians and birds within the food web, and they are essential for the wellbeing of the environment.

    April 23, 2014

  • McCain 1 House Republicans are more active on Twitter than Democrats

    Your representative in the House is almost certainly on Twitter. Your senator definitely is. But how are they using the social network? Are Democrats more active than Republicans, or vice versa? Who has the most followers on the Hill?

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Do your genes make you procrastinate?

    Procrastinators, in my experience, like nothing better than explaining away their procrastination: General busyness, fear of failure, and simple laziness are just a handful of the excuses and theories often tossed around. Now researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder have added another option to the list: genetics.

    April 22, 2014

  • VIDEO: Moose charges snowmobile, flees after warning shot

    While snowmobiling in New England, Bob and Janis Powell of Maine were charged by a moose and caught the entire attack on camera.

    April 22, 2014

  • 6th annual run event in Guthrie to benefit Free to Live

    The sixth annual “The See Spot Run” will take place at 9 a.m. May 10 in downtown Guthrie. This 5K, 10K and 1-mile run/walk event benefits Free to Live, a nonprofit animal sanctuary located Logan County. In the past five years of this event “The See Spot Run” has welcomed more than 3,000 runners and raised $30,000 for the Free to Live Animal Sanctuary.
    “The See Spot Run” will offer all participants the opportunity to compete in either the 5K or 10K event in addition to a 1-mile “Fun Run.” Walkers and runners (both two- and four-legged) are welcome and can register directly at www.theseespotrun.com. Visit www.freetoliveok.com. Donations also can be sent to “The See Spot Run,” P.O. Box 292, Guthrie, 73044.
     

    April 21, 2014

  • Touch-A-Truck event draws families to UCO

    Edmond Electric and Edmond Vehicle Maintenance are co-hosting the Edmond Touch-A-Truck from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 17 in the UCO parking lot off Second Street. Touch-A-Truck is a fundraising event that provides children of all ages with the opportunity to experience life-size vehicles and interact with community support leaders like police officers, firemen, construction workers and many more. Families will have the opportunity for a hands-on exploration of many vehicles such as Edmond’s own fire trucks and police cars, an Edmond Electric bucket truck and even a solid waste truck.
    Admission for the Touch-A-Truck event is a suggested $2 donation with the proceeds going to the Edmond HOPE Center. For more information, contact Edmond Electric at 216-7671 or email michelle.gumaer@edmondok.com.

    April 21, 2014

  • Why do wolves howl?

    Of all the myths that dog the wolf, none is more widely accepted than the idea that wolves howl at the moon. Images of wolves with their heads upturned, singing at the night sky, are as unquestioned as a goldfish's three-second memory or a dog's color-blindness (both also myths).

    April 20, 2014