Glass is half empty kind of girl :( - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 5 Old 02-10-2010, 02:10 PM - Thread Starter
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My DD is on the negative side of life. I feel like I am to blame because I had SERIOUS PPD for the first two years of her life, and then again with her sister so basically until she was 3 or so. I wasn't exactly viewing things from rose colored glasses either.
Now all day everything is negative. "I HATE that." is her first response to everything. She doesn't eat much because everything is "gross" even things I make at her specific request.
Today we were doing M&M math. We had little graphs drawn out to plot the colors in a certain amount (100). We counted out 100 little M&Ms into a bowl. We were ready to separate them out by color when she says "I don't have that many." in a super wine-y voice. I looked at her and said "We all just counted together, we all have 100." she said "But look I can still see the bottom of the bowl." as she pushed them aside to reveal the bottom of the bowl. I looked at her and said "Are you serious? You have 100 M&MS and you are going to complain that you don't have enough?" I was floored. Seriously I thought this would be SO MUCH FUN!! I thought 100 was A TON to be giving them, but what the heck were learning right? So I just shook my head and put everything away, because, well, I just don't want to do "fun" things if they aren't even fun. I guess that wasn't fair to her little sister but I was just trying not to yell at DD. That was my calm response.
Today was a last straw kind of moment but we have these all the time. It makes me so upset, and I know that only makes her more negative. But I'm still struggling with seeing the positive side of things myself. And when she does stuff like that its too easy to let it get to me.
How do I respond/show her how to be more positive beyond just being a good example (which I am working on)?
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#2 of 5 Old 02-12-2010, 12:05 AM
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I think research points to the idea that we are sort of born at a certain set point in the happiness/pessimism continuum. In other words, I think it's a lot genetic--at least in the long term.

I've got a pollyanna personality and a kid who tends to be less satisfied. Same parents (exactly same time frame/they are fraternal twins) and different genes. I just am saying don't push blame on yourself.

How about something along the lines of a gratitude journal with her? Maybe once a day (or every meal or whatever) you both think of something you're thankful for to write down and put in a jar or a book or whatever?

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#3 of 5 Old 02-12-2010, 12:51 AM
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My ds is pretty negative too and it drives me nuts sometimes. I instituted a rule that every night at bedtime we both have to say something we are grateful for from that day. Sometimes I really have to insist and sometimes I have to give him ideas. It's not clear to me that this makes any real difference to his overall outlook though.

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#4 of 5 Old 02-12-2010, 02:42 AM
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I have one like that and I just try not to buy into it.

I might have said something along the lines of "I'm sorry you don't feel you have enough. We just counted 100 so I know we all have 100. If that's not enough for you, you can choose to put them all away". And then go on with the lesson.

My youngest is so much like that. She focuses on the negative. I try to validate her feelings as much as possible by saying things like "I understand you're frustrated or upset or angry etc..." and then I try to take the focus off it by saying "but, you can either choose to continue to be upset about it or you can let it go, either way, we're moving on to such and such......"

I just really try not to buy into it and there are consequences for some behaviors. Like tonight, I told the girls we could skip some chores and I would help them with their other ones. DD was going on and on about how hard it was to do the dishes. Umm, I'm right there helping! So, when she wouldn't stop, I told her that I wasn't going to listen to it anymore and that she was now responsible for all the dishes herself.

I do this a lot. Give her a chance to get it under control or I walk away. I tell her I won't listen to her whining and complaining and when she wants to talk respectfully, I'm there to listen.

It can be so draining to deal with a negative personality. And to some extent, I think children are born with certain personalities. But, I do think that we can influence them so a degree. I know since i've stopped buying into the whining and complaining, she's gotten so much better about being able to pull it together and get herself out of that "poor me" state of being.
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#5 of 5 Old 02-12-2010, 05:30 AM
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I think a postive attitude/optimism can definitely be learned. She might be a negative Nancy right now, but that doesn't mean she can't learn some positive coping skills. My sister is a psychologist and she recommended a booked called "Learned Optimism" to my negative Nancy brother. I doubt he ever read it and I haven't either, but it might be someplace to start.

I think the pps' suggestions of focusing on gratitude might help, too. You can find a lot of resources that are appropriate for kids. I know there are kids' books, too. I think one picture book is "The Secret of Saying Thanks" which might be a jumping off point. (BTW, I think it may have a little bit of religious undertone, a mention of thanking God or something, which may or may not fit in with your family beliefs, but you could emphasize or omit as you saw fit.)

For the M&Ms incident, I would probably stop what I was doing and call her on looking at things as being glass-half-empty. I have a fear that my kids will turn out to be pessismists like my brother (who would say he is a realist, probably, but he can be so difficult and unhappy) so I often point out that there are two ways of looking at things (empty/full) and there are plenty of things in the world to be miserable/complain about without going to look for them.

If our goal in life is to find "bad things" to be unhappy about we'll surely succeed, but if we stop and look for "good things" we can find those, too, and I'd much rather have things to be happy about than things to be upset about. We talk about the cars we notice on the road and how they can pick out cars that are like ours (a silver VW golf), but we don't always notice the make/model of the other cars that are driving by because we're actively looking for the silver Golfs. If we actively look for something good we can find it, too!

Sometimes we play "the good thing game" where we just name one good thing we notice right now (it's a sunny day, we're warm in the car, we're on time, that's a beautiful cloud, the flowers are loving all this rain, etc, etc). We talk about it's all how you look at things, too. Some mornings on the way to school when it's all rainy and gray we talk about how it could be "a gray day" or we could look at it as "a misty magical morning" — "hey, do you see any unicorns in the woods over there? That might've been a pixie!"

We also play a game at supper we call "best thing, worst thing" where we just take turns saying the best thing that happened to us today and the worst thing. Since my kids are at school, sometimes I learn interesting tidbits or sometimes it's just the last thing that happened since they've forgotten about morning. DH doesn't get too into it, but he'll play along. I think it's good for him, too.

So, we have this ongoing conversation. I think it's an important thing to be self-aware of the attitude you're projecting. If my kids were whining about getting 100 m&ms (which I could totally see them doing, btw — they would probably think a big number like 100 would fill a giant bowl except tomorrow is the 100th day of school and we just counted 100 popcorn kernels) I'd just remind them of glass half empty/glass half full and call it on them. I'd ask them if 100 m&ms was a "good thing" or a "bad thing" and go from there.


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