We all have inner critics and self-talk. As parents we may try to limit the inner critic and aim to use positive self-talk instead. It is much easier to do this when you have a healthy self-esteem. You can move from a negative mindset by trying to understand your thinking and putting everything in context.
You can ask yourself, Why is this happening? Why am I thinking like this? How can I turn this around? This will help you to challenge the truth in your thoughts.
It is not so easy for a child. They can get stuck in a negative mindset and find it hard to get out of. They need help to take notice of their thoughts, step back and see the whole picture then decide what is a better way to think and act based on a more realistic perspective. They need to learn how to steer towards a thought that is more helpful.
Encouraging a Positive Mindset
When children catastrophise and jump to the worst case scenario, we should encourage them to think about all the other possible scenarios. Can they imagine one where everything goes right? If so, get them to think about how they would feel then.
For example – missing the bus may mean that their day is going to be ruined and they will get a detention. They may think they are useless and stupid for missing the bus. The positive outcome could be that they will still be able to get to school on time and have a good day.
When they focus on the negative of a situation we can get them to see the positive. Children who play sport may find it hard to lose a game and think it’s their fault for playing badly. In fact they may have played brilliantly but the other team were outstanding or lucky. They need to see the whole picture.
When children say they ‘can’t they don’t really mean it. They may mean that they don’t want to because they worried about trying or think they are not going to be good at something. We can encourage them to change their mindset to ‘I can have a go’. Who knows, they may do well.
Helping our children to have more balanced thinking will make them feel good about themselves and they will be able to see the world through a more realistic lens.