An attitude, or our state of mind in the moment, is more transient than a belief. Yet this temporary state of mind does affect how we perceive, interpret, and respond in any given situation. Our attitude in the moment shapes how we feel about someone or something, and it influences our behaviors and interactions as well.

Because attitudes are so influential, it can be helpful to discuss the concept of attitude with children. If you have a child who has become emotionally off balance, for example, having a chat about what happened after your child has calmed down is important. You and your child can talk about different “states of mind” and can then create descriptions of them. Depending on how your child behaves when feeling emotionally off balance, you can help your child label the general state of mind with words such as “meltdown,” “tantrum,” “emotional tornado,” or “emotional volcano.”

Then you can also talk about the feelings and thoughts connected with a particular state of mind. What feelings and thoughts led up to the emotional tornado, for example, and what could your child do differently in the future to avoid the tornado? Through a supportive discussion, you will help your child gather insight that can create a clearer picture of the temporary nature of our mental frame of mind and emotions. Such insight will open a way for you to discuss what to do differently the next time.

Revisiting a situation and considering what was our state of mind is a good exercise for all of us—the adults in our children’s lives. How are our attitudes affecting our thoughts, feelings, and interactions? And, importantly, what can we do about it?