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Parenting Your Negative Child

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Children with extremes in negative temperament always seem to be in a bad mood. Their constant complaints and apparent unhappiness can wear on a parent. It's easy to fall into a pattern of negative interactions with this child. You have to develop coping strategies that work for you and your child to manage his negative outlook, so that you can teach him appreciation for the small joys in everyday life. A good way to cope with a negative temperament is to take a four-prong approach.

Ignore Some Bad Moods

When you don't react to his negativity, you move forward in extinguishing negative behaviors. You don't ignore the child when he's in a bad mood; you ignore the mood. An attitude that conveys acceptance of your child, negative temperament and all, will keep your relationship intact and allow you to influence his positive development.

Identify the Underlying Needs

You'll soon learn your child's patterns of negative moods. Often, it's worse in the morning, or right after school. He's vulnerable to irritability when he's tired or hungry. New situations are bound to elicit a negative reaction. Social interactions at school and play groups are strained or conflicted. He wants your attention, and whining is his strategy for getting it. When you address his underlying needs for physical well being; structure and regularity in daily life; planning for new situations; social development; and positive attention from you, your child will develop the ability to moderate his negative moods.

Confront Negativity

Don't allow your child to escalate his mood, or control the family atmosphere with constant complaining and negative reactions. Confront irrational statements, or point out the positive aspects of a situation. If he doesn't come around, use a simple 'That's enough, I understand that you feel that way, but . . . ' Move on with your activities and let him know that the subject is closed.

Teach Positive Behavior

Though asking a child with a negative temperament to develop a cheerful, positive attitude is a tall order, you can help him learn to act positively even when he's not too happy about it! Encourage him to make a positive effort when his first reaction is negative. Guide him to make amends when he has damaged a social relationship with his negative attitude. Help him develop hobbies and interests that he enjoys, and that provide relief or calming of a negative mood. Give him choices between two options even when he's not happy about either. Show him lots of affection and love so that he will learn to share the same. Share your joy and thankfulness with and for him to provide a model for living that will allow him to overcome his challenging temperament.

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