Approach life with the right attitude

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baseball field

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company … a church … a home.”

— Charles Swindoll 

There is no one who can show us raw emotion better than very young children who have not yet learned how to edit themselves or find a way to work with what life dishes out on a daily, even hourly, schedule. Spending time with my 3-year-old granddaughter and her 5-year-old brother brings back many repeat scenarios over a lifetime. 

I could relate, both from my own childhood, as well as from raising my own son and daughter, in this same birth order and age span. Even their personality types fit the same pattern, making me feel as though I have time-traveled backward. 

“Please be nice. No, keep your hands to yourselves. Anger does not solve a problem. Count to 10. Take a time-out. Share. Say you are sorry. Say you are sorry like you really do mean it.” 

Fuel

One challenge that I had never experienced is a child who does not give a hoot about eating. Place the most delectable food in front of my grandson, and he will find not one bit of appeal in it. I have no clue how to solve that one. Give him something to dip it in, and he might consider trying it, no matter what “it” is. 

What I am just now seeing in our 5-year-old is a newfound drive to succeed at sports. 

“If I don’t practice, there is someone else that is practicing and he will get better and I won’t,” he told me. This prompted some really great discussion, simply because it applies to everything in life. It even gave the opening to discuss food as fuel. 

Animals

This little guy loves to come to our house and help Poppy with the chores. Going out into the pasture to look for a newborn calf with his Poppy was a big event recently, and he speaks of it endlessly. Helping with a litter of puppies is a delight for his little sister, who is drawn to dogs in the same way I have been as far back as my memory takes me. 

Tending to animals that need us teaches so much, and we see the difference in our world among those who have experienced responsibility through childhood chores and those who have not. 

Something I see that evokes old memories is a brother willing to accept his sister’s generous heart, but an unwillingness to mirror it. I worked hard at correcting that in my own two children, but it was a constant uphill battle. 

Though my brother was five years younger than me, he nearly always prevailed with stubborn determination, and the mantra ‘let him win, he’s so much younger than you’ pounded into my head by our mom. 

Advice

If I could give any piece of advice to parents of very young children, it would be to teach them to both win and lose gracefully, because life is going to be full of both. Try not to hover. Do not cater to them. 

One recent article, written by a mother of three very successful young women, has stayed with me. The author said she never micro-managed anything for her daughters. If they failed, they had to come to her to ask for advice on how to turn their ship around. 

She didn’t pat them on the head and tell them not to worry. She asked questions as to how they got in their particular predicament and let their answers guide the way back to a successful path. 

Sometimes, being tough with a child is the best thing to do, summoning characteristics they will need to develop and hone in a competitive world. The story of those three daughters tells that two became doctors and the third is a CEO of a large company. 

But I firmly believe that teaching a child to approach each day and each obstacle or challenge with the right attitude is the best attribute we can help them develop. The rest of the Charles Swindoll quote says it so well. 

“The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past … we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude … I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.”

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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren.

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