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What to Do If Your Child Has an Attitude Problem

I Was the Kid With the Attitude "Problem" — and It's Served Me Well My Whole Life

I'm pretty sure I was born with an attitude. My first piece of life advice came from my dad when I was 1 day old while he was giving me my first bath in the hospital. Despite my young age (seriously, 1 day old), he told me that life is tough and I should never, ever take sh*t from anyone (he also loves to swear, which is where I get it from). Looking back on it now, he says it was fitting that Frank Sinatra's "My Way" was playing on the radio during that bath, since that's exactly how I have done things my whole life — my way.

I'm lucky enough to have two very different parents. Growing up, my mom always taught me to be kind, put myself in someone else's shoes, and to remember that you never know what kind of struggles other people are going through. My dad, however, taught me to be tough, to never back down from what I believe in, and to always make it clear that I won't put up with much from people. Both of these perspectives have served me well over the years, but, like I said, I was born with an attitude, so I've always considered myself to be my father's daughter.

My attitude hasn't always been an easy thing for me to deal with or work on. I never was one to throw tantrums, but when I was younger, I got myself in a lot of trouble both at home and at school for talking back and not "respecting authority." While I understood to a degree the whole "they're older, show them respect" idea, I never fully bought into it. A lot of grown adults don't deserve respect, and I didn't (and still don't) feel the need to treat people a certain way just because of their age or title.

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Although there have been plenty of times when I've been wrong (that's part of growing up, after all), my attitude "problem" is something I'm extremely grateful for. I've learned so many valuable lessons because of it, like when to speak up, when to let things go, and when to — like my mom always tells me — put myself in someone else's shoes.

Here's why having a kid with an attitude could actually be a blessing in disguise.

1. People Will Know They Can't Take Advantage of Them

Whenever I have a problem at work or with my landlord, my dad is always the first person I call, and his response over the years has always had the same underlying theme: "There are people everywhere who are just waiting to take advantage of you." And he's right. Whenever I have started to let things slide, it usually becomes a domino effect, which is why I always stand up for myself. Sometimes that means being extremely firm with people, and sometimes that means asking nicely if they meant to do one thing when another options seems like a better choice. Either way, people know that I am not someone they can take advantage of and that I'm not afraid of confrontation.

2. They'll Know When to Fight and When to Back Down

Even as an adult, I sometimes get immediately worked up over something and want to bite back in an immature way, which I know now isn't the way to go about things. The harsh lessons I learned as a child with an attitude have taught me that there are definitely times when it's better to just shut my mouth and smile. Whenever I would (and still do) call my dad in a fit of anger over something, he always calmly asks, "Is this situation or person really worth the energy?" Most of the time the answer is no (like the time I wanted to write a strongly worded letter to our local coffee shop about their new $15 cash minimum because THE NERVE). And when I'm wrong about something (which happens more than I like to admit), he tells me to 1) step back and look at the situation again, and 2) shut my mouth and take the criticism.

3. They'll Be Strong

Growing up, having an attitude helped me be a better athlete and speak up for myself in tricky situations. When my high school basketball coach decided to make things political and promise certain parents that their kids would get more playing time than others, I called him out on it (he got very frazzled). Now, it's helped me become a strong, independent woman who fights for what's right. I don't let men tell me what to do or how to act or what to wear, and I certainly don't listen when someone tells me I can't or shouldn't do something.

4. They'll Go After What They Want

You don't have to have an attitude to be bold, but the fearlessness that comes with being unafraid to speak out is the same fearlessness I've leaned on when making scary life decisions. Moving to a new city, being scrappy to get that job interview, and hustling to prove myself have all stemmed from my attitude of not wanting to be told I'm wrong.

5. They'll Eventually Grow Out of Using Their Attitude Impulsively

I'll be the first one to admit that my attitude was and still is an issue sometimes. It's something I will always have, and it's also something I will always have to work on. But as I've gotten older and grown out of my "everyone is out to get me" teenage years, I've realized that everything doesn't always have to be a fight. I've leaned a little bit more toward my mom's way of thinking, and if someone bumps into me on the train, I'll wonder if they just received some bad news instead of instantly telling them off. Everyone has a story, and though mine will always include a fiery attitude, I wouldn't have it any other way.

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