Keeping it positive: Teaching children to focus on the good

Whining, complaining, and arguing are the languages some children seem to be fluent in. Ask them to talk about something good and they are at a loss. Do you find that when you ask your small being what his favorite part of the day is he has a hard time finding an answer, but can list countless problems?

This is a behavior, and I strongly suggest you take the time to address it now.

When your small ones are young, they are learning what conversations get attention and what conversations do not. Make a conscious choice to teach them that they get more attention and focus from you when they tell you things that are amazing versus when they tell you things that are problems.

This does mean letting your own curiosity take a back seat. When your child comes home from camp and says, “Johnny got in trouble at school today.” Most parents ask, “What happened?” This only teaches your child that you like to hear about problems.

Instead, let your curiosity take a back seat and respond with, “Oh. I want to hear something great that happened today.”

This will teach your child that sharing negative news does not keep the conversation going. Yes, it is hard to not know exactly what happened in camp with Johnny. Trust that if it was relevant to your family, the counselor would have called you.

Ask yourself, is it more important to know why another child got in trouble, or teach your child to have a positive perspective on life?

Hands down, your child outweighs another person’s child every time.

So, say to your child, “Tell me something great that happened today.” When he hesitates or says he can’t think of anything, wait. Tell him you will wait while he thinks of something great. Then, actually wait.

Don’t get distracted or talk to another one of your children. Don’t check your phone or go get dinner started. Wait until he says something that was great.

When he does, follow it up with lots of questions. This is how you show your child that you are interested — give lots of attention and focus on this great thing.

You can then follow up by telling him something great about your day. Many parents only ask their children questions about their day. They don’t share about their own. Share with your children great things about your day, too. They do want to know!

If you ask your child what was great about his day and share what was great about yours every day, do you know what happens? He starts to automatically talk about things that are great in his life.

One simple question, asked every day, will teach your child to look for the great things in his day and in his life. This is how you create a positive perspective! It is not something that people are or are not born with, it is created.

Next time your child shares about his day, consider what perspective you are creating in him.

Dr. Marcie Beigel is a behavior specialist based in Brooklyn, who has worked with thousands of families for more than 20 years. Her book “Love Your Classroom Again” is a bestseller, and she is a guest expert on WCBS and Fox. Find out more at