Positive Self-Talk Benefits and Activities
Positive self-talk is a coping skill that helps to elevate positive thinking and develop self-esteem. It is an essential tool in social-emotional learning, and it has been shown to increase positivity and help people to gain more self-confidence. Teaching children the power of positive self-talk early is a great way to build resilience for any challenge and can help in building confidence.
An example of a child engaging in negative self-talk may be when a child says, “I am just so stupid!” or “I can’t do this!”. The child, at this moment, is expressing frustration, anxiety, and self-doubt. When using positive self-talk, we encourage kids to flip that thought. We teach kids that while it is okay to have a negative thought and to have negative things happen, we can move forward in a way that is positive and productive. To do this, it is helpful to teach children positive-self talk statements or positive affirmations. These include statements like “I can do this!” or “I believe in myself!”. These positive statements allow the brain to take a pause in the current flood of negative emotions and thoughts, and attempt to switch gears to a more positive thought space.
While teaching positive self-talk can feel a bit silly or unnatural at first, sticking with it and finding fun ways to practice are key. Here are a few ideas:
1. Visual Reminders
Have a visual reminder of a positive self-talk phrase can be a helpful tool to remember to engage in positive self-talk. Try things like a poster with a favorite phrase or a sticky note that can be put in a child’s pocket, lunchbox, or desk.
In a moment of increased anxiety or frustration, showing a child what they can do through modeling a positive self-talk statement can be a great way to increase understanding. For example, sharing with a child, “I am really anxious about a big presentation I have at work tomorrow. I know I can do it. I am prepared and a strong leader.” can be a great way to model positive self-talk in the moment.
3. Create Your Own Positive Talk Statements
Instead of just using another person’s positive self-talk statement, have your child create one that is personal for them. You can use these printable positive self-talk cards as a template.
Note from Mightier Clinicians
Equipping children and young adults with skills like positive self-talk is a way to ensure resilience and growth for any obstacle that comes their way. When using positive self-talk, we are training the brain, through repetition, to frame situations in terms of existing strengths and advantages, opportunities for improvement, and reasons for hope.
With consistent practice, your child will find it easier to use positive self-talk as a coping skill to manage big emotions.