What This Is Like from Your Perspective

You know kids don’t always love school. But it can be hard to hear over and over (sometimes every day)…

How much your kids hate school, or their teacher, or a certain subject

How worried they are about getting through the day

…That there is absolutely nothing good about school that they can possibly think of

You want them to think more positively and be able to handle the fact that they simply have to go to school. And it can be so incredibly draining to deal it with time after time.


What This Is Like from Their Perspective

School can be tough for kids for a variety of reasons — it’s boring, it’s too difficult, they’re struggling with their friends, or their teacher.

And they’re at school hour after hour, day after day. They are faced with things that drain them every day, so they

Complain about how awful everything is

Can’t see the “good” parts of school

Won’t even consider that anything might make it better

They aren’t trying to make our lives more difficult. They’re simply unable to hold in their feelings (so that we can feel better).



How It Usually Goes When Your

Kids Have Negative Attitudes Toward School


Scenario: Martin and his family are at a family friend’s house. One of the adults in the family, Mrs. Jones, asks Martin about school, and all he does is complain. Later, Martin’s dad talks to him about that conversation.


Dad: Martin, when Mrs. Jones was asking you about school, you were so negative. You couldn’t think of one good thing to say?

Martin: Nope.

Dad: Why not?

Martin: School’s awful.

Dad: It can’t be that bad.

Martin: It is. My teacher doesn’t like me.

Dad: I’m sure that’s not true.

Martin: It is, Dad.

Dad: When I talked to her, she seemed to like you just fine.

Martin: She has to say that to you!

Dad: No she doesn’t. Why do you think she doesn’t like you?

Martin: Because I’m not paying attention all the time. But it’s so boring!

Dad: You’re not paying attention?! Martin, that’s rude!

Martin: Dad, I can’t help it. I know most of the stuff she’s teaching. It’s all dumb.

Dad: It may be dumb but you have to learn it.

Martin doesn’t say anything.

Dad: What’s ONE thing you like about school?

Martin: Nothing.

Dad: Not even recess? Or lunch?

Martin: No. Recess the other kids don’t want me to play. And lunch is just… lunch.

Dad: You know, Martin, if you’re so negative, you’ll only notice the bad stuff at school. Start thinking more positively and school will be better.

Martin: I can’t, Dad.

Dad: Yes you can!

Martin and his dad continue in the cycle of Martin’s dad trying to convince him that school isn’t so bad and Martin resisting. 


How It Usually Could Go (Better) When Your

Kids Have Negative Attitudes Toward School


Scenario: Martin and his family are at a family friend’s house. One of the adults in the family, Mrs. Jones, asks Martin about school, and he does is complain. Later, Martin’s dad talks to him about that conversation.


Dad: Hey Martin… I noticed that when Mrs. Jones asked you about school, you seemed pretty down on it.

Martin: Yeah, I hate school.

Dad: I’m sorry to hear that, kiddo.

Martin’s dad wants him to be more positive about school. But he knows that if tries to convince him of that, he’ll only be more resistant. So instead of focusing on how HE feels about Martin’s responses (which will only put him into Yuck), Martin’s dad focuses on how he can handle the situation most effectively.

Martin doesn’t say anything.

Dad: It must stink to have to be in school all day when you hate it so much.

Martin: It does.

Dad: What do you hate about it?

Martin: Well, first, my teacher hates me.

Dad (curiously): What makes you say that?

Martin: Because I can’t pay attention. Because it’s so boring. And I know the stuff already. It’s dumb.

Dad: Yeah, I agree. If you know all of the stuff it’s hard to pay attention. I’m sure you’d much rather be thinking about other things!

Martin’s dad really wants Martin would stop complaining about school. But he knows that if he insists that Martin be more positive, Martin will only become more negative. So he tries to see the situation from Martin’s perspective, knowing that is more likely to motivate Martin consider other possibilities.

Martin: Yeah.

Dad: What else don’t you like about school?

Martin: I have a hard time finding people to play with at recess.

Dad: Why, what are the other kids doing?

Martin: They don’t want me to play with them.

Dad: I’m sorry to hear about it.

Martin doesn’t say anything.

Dad: No wonder you don’t like school. Does this stuff come into your head a lot?

Martin nods, looking sad.

Dad: I’ll tell you what. You can talk to me about it, OK? And I’ll listen. Without telling you you’re wrong… so you don’t have to be alone with all of this. Would that help?

Martin: I don’t know.

Dad: Can we try? Because I think having these feelings every day and having no one to talk to about it can be tough.

Martin: I guess.

Dad (after a moment or two of just sitting with Martin): Can I ask you a question?

Martin: I guess.

Dad: Is there anything you do like about school?

Martin: Not really.

Dad: I’m sorry, Martin. OK, can I make you a deal?

Martin: What?

Dad: Every day I want you to tell me the things you didn’t like about your day.

Martin: OK…

Dad: And after you tell me about the things that stunk, I want to focus on what you can to do make things better, OK?

Martin: What do you mean?

Dad (speaking slowly, not pressuring Martin): I think when we stay stuck in the horrible things about school, they stay horrible. But if we focus on what changes we can make, things sometimes get even a little better. Are you willing to talk about what you can do to make things even a little better?


Although he’s showing Martin that he’s willing to listen to his negativity, Martin’s dad still sets a boundary. He’s letting Martin know that he also wants him to focus on making a positive change, and he’s going to help him find ways to do that.

Martin: Yeah, I guess.

Dad: OK, when do you want to do this? What time of day?

Martin: After dinner?

Dad: Sounds good. Let’s start on Monday.

Martin: OK.

Martin and his dad start this ritual, and although it takes some time, the longer his dad listens, the more open Martin becomes to focusing on solutions.



Although Martin’s dad used Calm, Connect, Correct to handle this situation,

proactive tools will make all of the difference in how this situation plays out in the moment.

For him to stay CALM in the moment, he needs tools to reduce his overall Yuck and tools to handle his triggers….

Otherwise Martin’s dad will immediately go into Yuck, creating a wall between himself and Martin.

For him to CONNECT in the moment, he needs tools to understand what’s causing his son’s negative behavior…

Otherwise he won’t he won’t recognize that there’s a reason Martin is being so negative. (When kids have big feelings, they need to be released. If we try to get them to “think positively” too quickly, they only dig into their negative feelings more strongly.)

For her to CORRECT in the moment, Martin needs to know that her dad means what he says because he’s been consistent in the past.

Martin must believe that his dad WILL take time for him every day and really WILL listen to him instead of trying to change his mind.