I consider myself a pretty happy and positive person. And I am trying to raise pretty happy and positive children.
As Ruby get older (and expresses more and more opinions), I have started to hear things come out of her mouth like, "Gross!", "Yuck!" or "I don't like that"—usually in response to a new food or to clothes I pick out that she doesn't want to wear. Initially, my response was to tell her that it wasn't nice to say things like that. (My least favorite type of people are those who complain about everything but do nothing to fix it…so I certainly didn't want to be raising a complainer).
But then I realized that it's okay not to like something…there are things we all don't like. Rather than complain about something just for the sake of it, I now challenge her to tell me why she doesn't like something. If she doesn't want to eat a certain food, then she has to at least try it once and then tell me why she doesn't like it. If it's because it's too bitter or the texture is weird, then I know it's something that her mini tastebuds just aren't ready for yet. But if it's just because it's "green" or because she doesn't want to, then it's not a good enough reason for me. Or if she doesn't want to wear an outfit that I picked out for her and her reason is because "the dress doesn't twirl and my friends will like it better if it twirls". Well, then that's when I know her real motives and the fact that even at four, kids are already aware of wanting to please their friends. Then, that helps me decide if I'll oblige her and change her outfit or if it's a "you get what you get and you don't get upset" situation.
If you ask anyone (not just a kid) why they don't like something, the answer you receive sometimes informs SO much more than the original point of the conversation…
Do you guys use this tactic at all? It's something that's been helping us a lot with a 4-year-old going on 14-year-old!