Ok, so I'm coining a new word for myself. I know that CM advocated working on one habit at a time. As of yet, I've found that a bit difficult. Therefore, 'habitry' has become something that I've been intertwining throughout our day and life. The habit of cheerfulness that we work on seems to tie in greatly with respect and kindness. So how do you differentiate?
Perhaps things work a little differently in our family due to Pooh having autism. I'm not sure. He's my oldest so it's a little hard for me to judge. However, I work on the attitude that is displayed all throughout the day. So, for our family, it means working on the habits of Cheerfulness, Respectfulness and Kindness all together.
When I ask the boys to do something, we have since toddlerhood taught them "Yes, ma'am. No, Sir". Now that doesn't mean they aren't allowed to ever say anything else. They may say "Oh, I did that already" or "But I need your help." That's okay as long as it's said in the appropriate tone of voice. What we've been having to work on for quite a while is the 'tone' that we get back. "Well, fine then!" or "Yes ma'am, moommmmyyy!" When this happens I have them 'try again' until they get the tone back to a respectful one. This may mean they do it 5 times before it's correct. We'll also do this if someone stomps off angrily or bangs the door shut. We have a 'try again' until the feet walk softly and the door shuts quietly. They must come all the way back and do it over.
It's common for some of us to get the whiny, complaining attitude as well. I used a bible example with the boys that did make an impression. Our family study last month was about the Israelites and how they reacted to things in the wilderness. I overemphasized what they were saying: "Ohhhhh! We should have stayed in Egypt!! Why did you bring us here to die? This manna is soooo boring! Waaa, Waaa Waaa!" Then I asked them who they thought sounded like this sometimes. "Uh, us?" Right on! LOL So now when the whininess starts, I may something like "I think I hear an Israelite." Usually I get a little smile in response. Even when I don't get the smile, the whining stops. Ahhhh, sweet relief. LOL
Another thing I do is when the question is coming out whiny or complaining, I smile at them. With Tigger this works really well, as he finds it funny and will smile back. That completely changes his attitude. Pooh will at times give me the evil eye in response, but will then lean against me and at least won't be as aggressive with his complaining as he was initially.
I've also been known to break out in song when I hear a rotten attitude. Suddenly singing loudly songs such as "A spoon full of sugar" and "Put on a happy face" tends to take the focus off of themselves. They're too busy trying to get me to stop singing. he he
I do believe that one of the biggest and easiest ways to help with attitude issues is to get outdoors. Being out in nature soothes the savage beast in all of us. So if you're having a bad day, week or month, start making regular times to get outdoors. It doesn't have to be formal nature study. Just take a walk. Visit a new park. Find a stream to explore. Just get outside regularly. I'm still working on this myself so don't feel like you're alone. It does work though. I've seen it happen. I was also struck by an example a friend told me about. A couple of years ago she was watching one of those shows where the family tries living in another completely different place or time period. (Remember the pioneer living one and the one where they lived in victorian england?) Anyway, the one she saw was a family living in Africa alongside another African family. They were living in the bush somewhere. I'm sketchy on the details but the point of it was that the Dad and son were just having a hard time. They were constantly arguing. The African father sort of stepped in and just took the son for a walk. When they came back, the son's attitude had changed. Sometimes we just need a change of scenery and the best kind is of nature.
All in all, it's up to us as the parents, to set the example. Keeping our tone mild and kind and showing them respect, while not a cure-all, does go a long way into helping them see a goal to work towards. They just don't know it. ;D