I will be the first person to put up my hand and admit that I am not always kind to myself. I have days where my inner monologue screams hateful things at me and days where I feel so useless that I want to stay in bed and hide form the world forever. The sad thing is that this can be normal for a lot of people. The good news is, we can prevent it from happening to our children.
Self-talk isn’t a new concept for your child. Think about it – did they ever talk to themselves when they were little? Here we were putting it down to a strange little fluke, invisible friends, and ghosts when really, it was just a way of private speech and out loud thoughts. By the time they are ten, these thoughts are normally 100% internalised so introducing and reinforcing positive self-talk while they are young is a need. Let’s break it down.
What is self-talk?
Self- talk is the internal dialogue that you do naturally and is influenced by your subconscious. Your thoughts and emotions are all locally sourced from this self-talk and they influence how you feel about yourself and how you react to events around you. For some people, positive self-talk comes naturally. Most people, myself included, need a little help adjusting to a more positive way of thinking.
Example (in the words of my daughter): “I failed, and it was so embarrassing!”
Positive: “I am proud that I gave it a go.”
Why is positive self-talk so important?
Positive self-talk is when we talk to ourselves in a reassuring, kind, and more optimistic way. Did you know that self-talk makes up 80% of all our communication? I didn’t and it is honestly mind blowing when you break it down like that. Positive self-talk can have a massive impact on how we think and feel, and over time. Engaging in a more positive self-talk can help reduce stress, help ease anxiety, improve motivation for school and outside activities as well boost their self-esteem.
How can we help our children?
Good news is that it is quite easy to start teaching them positive self-talk. The hard thing is to stick to it.
Listen and learn: Ask your children to work out the repeated negative thoughts and write them down. This will help you understand what their main negative thoughts are and where to start.
Ask questions: Ask them the why, what, how and when of their negative thoughts. Determine if this is an all or nothing thought, an exaggeration or even too harsh on themselves. Help them look at it from all angles.
Word change: Help them change the negative words into positive ones. It can be as simple as changing “can’t” to “can”
Surround them with positive people: my daughter has a few nasty girls in her friend group that like to make fun of her and lower her self-esteem. Once she was playing with a new group of people, her self-esteem rose massively, and those negative thoughts left.
Model positive self-talk: Be nice to yourself! If your child sees/hears you talking positively, it changes their outlook and encourages them to be more positive in their thinking and outlooks.
Create a positive mood board/que card for them: I have a mood board for my stories that include pics of my characters, setting and various other notes. I also include small reminders like “you got this” “stay humble, work hard, be kind” and the like. Creating one for your child can subtly and subconsciously remind them to think positive and give them that little boost of confidence.
One of my favourite quotes that I started telling my daughter is from the movie “The Help,” based on the book by Katherine Stockett, when the main character, Aibileen, tells the young girl she is in charge of “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” It’s my favourite because these are important things to remind our children. It also had nothing to do with looks, and everything to do with boosting self-esteem and self-love.
We need to teach our children that while it is okay to have a negative thought or for a negative thing to happen, it is moving past it, learning from it, and turning it into a positive that is more important. This week’s knowledge module on our ParentalEQ Back Pack App is all about Positive Self-Talk, another member of the “Thoughts” series, is all about talking to your child about positive self-talk and why it is so important.
Positive statements allow your children’s brain to put a hold on the negative thoughts and negative emotions before switching lanes to a more positive train of thought. After all, who doesn’t like a little reminder of how awesome we are sometimes?
Thoughtfully written by Casey Luxford