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Negative 7yo is ruining his own life. How do I foster a more positive attitude?

(12 Posts)
thespeaker Fri 07-Oct-11 16:46:12

He is so doom ridden. He manages to put a negative twist onto everything.
If I cook something I know he likes I get "Oh, no! Not this again." if its something new then he won't try it because he 'knows' he won't like it.
He won't play out in because the other dcs will be mean (they aren't, generally) but he doesn't want to stay in because he wants to play on his scooter, he can't play on his scooter away from other dcs because he will fall off (he never has).
He won't try new authors because he knows he won't like them but he won't re-read books because its boring.
He is having problems at school because he crys due to the work being too hard then when he has been persuaded to try he complains its too easy and boring. Any new experience is greeted with tears because he will be scared/won't be able to do it/everyone will be mean.
Familiar experience are greeted with a negative comment "I bet X won't be going/I bet it will rain/I bet you won't let us have ice-cream/I bet I won't be able to do X/Y/Z".
He is close to terrified about meeting new dcs as they will 'be mean'.

He has experience a little bit of low level bullying along the lines of a boy shouting "Oi" at him in school, a bigger boy who lives a few doors away telling him to get off the football pitch because he can't play with them but generally he has lots of lovely friends and goes on nice trips and is able to do his schoolwork well and can hold his own at sports.

joshandjamie Fri 07-Oct-11 17:48:24


My son sounds very similar and I recently discovered that he is what is called a 'highly sensitive child'. See this thread

I'm not sure what the answer is other than to keep gently encouraging them towards more positive alternatives. Possibly ask why they think something is boring or how they might make it better etc.

good luck. It's not easy!

falasportugues Sat 08-Oct-11 17:54:57

is there an emotional wellbeing team in your local area.?... they can offer support, strategies for dealing with other kids, and some counselling. good luck

thespeaker Sat 08-Oct-11 19:48:47

I haven't heard of an emotional wellbeing team but I googled them and there isn't one for primary dcs. Some sort of counseling might be useful though.

The other thread is interesting. He isn't physically sensitive but he doesn't really deal well with lots of boisterous people so hates parties and soft play etc but he is getting better. He observes the fun rather than joining in. I remember taking him to the park when he was a toddler and he was having a great time playing on the slide but when another toddler came over and started playing he wouldn't go on again, he just watched her. He wasn't sad but it almost seemed like he thought he wasn't entitled.
He values other peoples opinions to an obscene level, even people he has just met or people he dislikes even when intellectually he knows they are either wrong or simply have a different opinion from him which is no more valid. If someone told him he was rubbish at spelling he would believe them and get upset even if he was holding a spelling award in his hand. He hasn't got the ability to think "what a twat", perhaps that is something that comes with age.

falasportugues Sat 08-Oct-11 19:54:56

it's the pct that have an ebt. you can self refer, or be referred by gp/ school etc. sometimes what mum/dad say just doesn't hold any value for kids because they do take us for granted, and in that case, another, professional adult's support in developing self esteem can be vital. I'll see if there is a link for our EBT and then you may be able to see if there is one n your area.

Marne Sat 08-Oct-11 19:59:30

I wish your ds went to school with dd1, they would be best of friends as they sound so similar, dd1 has always been very negative and sensitive she was diagnosed with Aspergers syndrome (not saying thet your ds has this) when she was 4 so she has a few other problems on top of the sensitivity. She wont ride her bike because 2 years ago another child pushed her off (so she refuses to get on it), she moans about everything i cook for her, wont try new things but gets fed up of eating the same things, it drives me nuts sad.

falasportugues Sat 08-Oct-11 20:00:37


thespeaker Wed 12-Oct-11 11:36:14

Thankyou falasportugues.

Marne, that bike thing sound really familiar. He remembers things and holds a grudge for ages. Someone said something to him in the children liturgy group at church almost 4 years ago and he hasn't been back in even though he has been to church 300+ times since then and the 'mean' boy is in his class at school and they get on fine now.

timetoask Wed 12-Oct-11 11:46:13

This may sound crazy, but do you think it might be attention seeking?
My DS1 has had plenty of defiant difficult behaviour, negative, everything is no. Someone involved in mental health told us that it is attention seeking, some children enjoy seeing the adults around them getting frustrated and upset and giving them this kind of feedback at the sometime.

How do you respond to your child when he behaves like this? Can you try ignoring any negativity (zero feedback) to see what happens?

post Wed 12-Oct-11 13:35:41

Do you model optimism and 'sunniness' to him, in tour own life? It's just that 'ruining his own life' etc, while it might feel true, is probably the sort of catastrophising you're objecting to him doing!
And children can tell if you're faking. If you're worried and expecting the worst, he might be looking to you to see how the world works. If he sees you being happy and comfortable and hopeful, your saying to him the worlds a safe and benevolent place might ring truer to him?

titchy Wed 12-Oct-11 13:47:57

My ds tended to be this way..... He is a lot better now that he's almost 11. One thing that might help is asking directly to tell you something good. When he tells you about his day for example get him to tell you at least three good things (or even OK things - jyst get him to focus on something other than the bad things).

Ask for his help or input into meals. Do stuff like cook together, so if he says 'I can't' you can say it's fine we're both doing it not just you.

It's taken years to build up ds' self esteem though! Joining Beavers helped, as did learning an instrument (maybe something obscure that he is guaranteed to be better than anyone else at?)

thespeaker Wed 12-Oct-11 19:03:12

I think there is an element of attention seeking to it. Sometimes he literally can't think of anything to say so he moans. He does end up being coaxed along, particularly at school.

I am fairly optimistic, as is DH. We have a nice life with lots of security. We don't have money or job or health troubles and have a really close extended family on the doorstep. We live in a safe place with a park in the street and lots to do. DD is very optimistic eg she wanted an apple, got the last one out the fruitbowl but found it was going bad and said 'hooray! I can make compost with this' and ran outside to throw it in the compost bin.

I am going to try the direct questioning thing and maybe keep a diary of all the good things so he can look back at it.
We did do beavers but he hated it. He is actually good at stuff so technically he should have reasonable self esteem. He is in the top groups at school and does a couple of sports where he is the youngest in his group. I have no idea why he thinks he can't do things because its not born out by experience. He isn't especially good at art or music but he really enjoys them and never trys the 'I can't do that' thing if he is asked to draw.

I do think he is probably a bit better than he was so hopefully it isn't something he will carry through life.

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