Being negative is contagious. It spreads like wildfire through the family. And it’s not just that old adage about when mama’s not happy, nobody is happy. But when the toddler is throwing a fit or the teenager is sporting an attitude or dad has had a long day, they all contribute to the downhill spiral of family negativity.
Once one person in the home starts, chances are, others are soon to follow in their footsteps. Oftentimes, people honestly don’t realize that they’ve become so negative.
Maybe they’ve had a bad day at work and it’s trickled home with them, causing that overflow of emotion into the home.
Another way that negativity spreads is that it has just turned into a habit. People tend to think negatively a lot quicker than they do positively, so the mind has turned it into a habit for some that automatically think of the bad situation quicker or thought quicker than the good.
While being negative isn’t uncommon, it doesn’t need to be the new normal in the house. There are ways to combat and overcome the defeatist and bad attitude and kickstart your next family reset.
Why it is important to model optimistic self-talk to our children
I called my husband one morning “Please, please please pray for me. I am tired. I am hurting. I don’t want to do anything. I’m just feeling so tapped out. My bones ache. I…”
Trailing off, I could only think of negative phrases to describe myself and how I felt.
I paced my house trying to decide if I should go to the gym or not. I had made a commitment to myself that I would go every single weekday. And it was a weekday. But I didn’t want to go. I didn’t feel like going.
“Maybe if I put on my workout clothes and just stay home it will be better” I thought to myself. as I wriggled into tight-fitting leggings and a bright blue dri-fit shirt. I proceeded to collapse on the bed. “Nope. I can’t do it” I said aloud for no one to hear.
“Just go, Kara.” Some distant voice inside my head blurted out. “You’re better than this”.
And so I began gathering my toddlers. I lugged each little person down the stairs, gathered my things, and got into the van.
In a brief moment I thought maybe I would just dive around the block, but when I snapped to I realized… I wasn’t talking positively to myself and I definitely wasn’t modeling to my kids.
My mind raced. What happy, uplifting, motivating things could I say to get myself out of the negative nellies? “Um… I feel weak. So maybe… I am strong? Yeah, let’s go with that. But… what else?” While driving I starting chanting them and suddenly Emma became interested.
DO IT AGAIN MOM!
Oh my goodness. The light bulb went off. She needed to see and hear these things too. She would get caught in a rut like me if I didn’t.
SO my teacher brain kicked in. Let’s do them together and let’s do motions with them so that we can remember them (You know, learning style version).
I am strong.
I am healthy.
I am confident.
I am worthy.
I am loved by God.
And so we did this all the way to the YMCA. It prompted a video about how to make something like this that suits your own family values. View it here:
How to combat family negativity at home
First and foremost it starts with self and the parents. But as a whole, everyone in the family can practice these simple ways to beat negative self-talk.
Hold yourself accountable.
One of the first steps to realizing that you are negative is to admit or understand that you are being negative.
For us, it’s usually me. And I am learning to own up to it. I so often feel overwhelmed and like I need a family reset button.
If you, or someone in your home, feel that they do not have an issue with being a negative person, then the ability to correct that action can be lessened.
Grab your free “reframing negativity at home” download.
Allow others to hold you accountable.
Again, back to the habit portion.
If you are being negative so often that you don’t even realize it anymore, you will need to have others assist in pointing out to you when those times are happening.
It can be done in a respectful manner, but it is important to know when it is happening. Keep a mental tally in your mind of how many times per day your negative attitude is pointed out, so that gives a basis for understanding the frequency of the pattern.
Understand that you control your own emotions and words… and teach the kids that their negativity impacts more than themselves.
Ultimately, each of us has a choice in our behavior. By understanding that, it helps to understand the importance of trying to be positive about situations.
Instead of complaining about someone at work, try to understand that that person may have just been having a bad day or an “off” day as well and it came across to not jive with you.
When wanting to make a rude comment about something, pause and think about how relevant that comment might be. Will it bring anything to the conversation or only cause issues?
Create a “compliment only” day to fight family negativity.
Make your home a safe zone full of the negative outside influences. Set a rule in your home that on certain days, each person in the home has to start sentences out with a compliment, or something nice, when speaking to others in the home. “Hey Mom, that dinner was awesome. Guess what happened at school today?” Simple as that. It starts the conversation off with a positive tone, a smile, and nice words.
Make rules in the home.
As a kid my mom had a “hate jar”… I hated that hate jar.
But she did it to try to fight the downward spiral of everyone saying they hated something. So we had to pay up. A quarter for our first offense, and sometimes more. But it was rue she had to deal with family negativity that also helped broaden our vocabularies.
Create a negative free zone.
- The only names for each other allowed are real names and pet names
- Yelling is for outside.
- Question before assuming.
- Leave negativity or bad thoughts at work.
- Find a better way to say it.
- Reframe the situation before talking about it.
- Eyes aren’t mean’t to roll.
Set boundaries so that all in the home truly know and understand what negativity is, and what it means. It’s important to explain that being negative doesn’t only mean words. It can also mean gestures and body language as well. Negativity can rear it’s had in many different ways.
Understand that no one is perfect.
In life, there is no such thing as the “negativity” police. We each make mistakes, we each say things at times we don’t mean and are guilty one way or the of being negative throughout our day.
It doesn’t mean the day is ruined. It doesn’t mean that one slip up means that you need to give it up. Understanding that no one is perfect and that we all need some wiggle room to learn and strive to be better is a great way to continue on the path of removing negativity from our home and lives.
Related: How to start letting go of perfect (for parents).
So what can you do RIGHT NOW to get the negativity bug out of your house?
While being negativity may be surprisingly easy to do, each and every moment, hour and day are full of many new opportunities to be able to hop back on the train of positivity. Start by trying a few suggestions mentioned above on ways to combat negativity in your life and in your home.
Start a family reset. Join our free challenge before it closes or get on the waiting list!
You may be surprised that by being more aware of your actions, or by helping those around you be aware of their actions, the negativity may start to disappear so that the positivity can start to shine through!
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Using the word “SMILE” this is a cheat sheet on how to reframe negative thoughts and words into something more positive for the family to focus on. And it’s an immediate shift from negative to positive!
Kara is an author, wife, and mother of 3 children living in Boston, MA. She has her degree in Secondary Education & Adolescent Childhood Development and is passionate about connecting with and even helping other parents on their journey to raise awesome kids!