How to Teach Kids Life Skills — Attitude

Steven Elmore
4 min readApr 15, 2021

A person’s attitude is how they look at life on a daily basis. It is important to do our best to keep this attitude positive. A positive attitude helps people cope with the daily stresses of life. Constantly dwelling on the negative can also lead to mental health problems.

We are not born with positive attitudes. Children develop positive attitudes from the people around them. You may have heard the saying, “attitudes are contagious, is yours worth catching?” We have an important role as parents and teachers to instill a positive way of looking at life in our children.

Leaders are people that have positive attitudes and can use them not only to achieve success in their own lives, but also inspire people around them to be happier and more successful.

On the flip side, if a positive attitude is contagious, that means a negative one is as well. We need to be careful to not instill negative attitudes in children as that will lead to an unhappy outlook on life. How great would the world be in more people had a positive attitude, we’re genuinely happy, and led caring, compassionate lives?

Let’s smile more. Let’s laugh more. Let’s tell more dad jokes. Let’s be silly and goofy. It is a fact that when we smile or laugh our brain chemistry alters and allows our mood to change.

As I outlined in Part 1 of this series, the 4 steps to teaching kids life skills are: define the word, discuss what the definition means, use examples, and discuss why it is important. If you need more detail on the process, please go back and read Part 1.

Let’s apply the process to attitude.

  • Focus on the good: throughout the course of the day, several good things happen. It is sunny outside, your friend told a funny joke, you scored a goal in the soccer game, etc. However, if only one bad thing happens, we consider it to be a bad day and only think about that one bad thing that happened. So, when something bad happens, try to look back at the day and find the good things.
  • Yes I can: people with poor attitudes tend so “I can’t” frequently while those with positive attitudes will say “I can”. Even if you are unable to do something at that moment, don’t say “I can’t do it”. Instead say, “What do I need to do to be able to do this?” Usually, it is a simple as finding the right person to help you.
  • Internal dialogue: the words and phrases we tell ourselves in our heads will also have an impact on our attitude. Negative self-talk such as “I am stupid” or “I am not good enough” or “I am fat” will lead to a negative attitude. Instead of using negative words and phrases, try to rephrase them into something more positive and productive. If you are a little overweight, instead of saying “I am fat” say, “I have great self-discipline and with some help I can achieve my health goals”.
  • During this step, have the kids repeat the definition after you 3–5 times then have a short discussion on the topics above. Do this 2–3 time during the week.
  • Example of attitude in karate: training in karate is a challenging activity. There will be many times when the instructor tells you do something that you don’t think you can do. If you have a negative attitude and tell yourself you can’t do it, you will be correct and never be able to. However, if you tell yourself, you can do it, you will. Maybe not the first time or even the second time, but eventually you will be able to do it if you remain positive.
  • Example of attitude at school: you get your math test back from your teacher and you find out you failed. You thought you did well. You start telling yourself you’re dumb and you’ll never be able to understand math. This example of a negative attitude will hold you back from reaching your fullest potential. Instead, talk to the teacher and come up with a plan to improve for the next time. Tell yourself that “I had a bad day, I will do better next time.”
  • During this step, have the kids repeat the definition after you 3–5 times then have a short discussion on the topics above. Feel free to replace the examples with ones of your own. Substitute a different activity for karate if they don’t practice karate. Be sure to ask them for an example first before providing yours. Do this 2–3 time during the week.
  • Why is it important to have a positive attitude? People with positive attitudes will go a lot farther in life than those with negative attitudes. Not only are people with positive attitudes more successful and happier, but they are also just more pleasant to be around. People don’t really want to be friends with those that have negative attitudes because they bring us down and make us unhappy.
  • During this step, briefly go over all steps 1–3 before going into this step. Be sure to ask the kids why they think it is important before providing them with the answer. Do this 2–3 times during the week.

Remember, it only takes less than 5 minutes, 2–3 times a week to go through these steps. Feel free to comment or contact me with questions.

Stay tuned for my next post which will be on how to teach kids about honesty.

Originally published at on April 15, 2021.