As children progress through their developmental stages, self-talk, or the things they say to themselves, becomes increasingly important. Positive self-talk is an essential tool for learning how to manage emotions, build self-esteem, and cultivate resilience.
For many children, this critical skill is developed during the middle childhood years, the period between the ages of six and twelve. During these formative years, children encounter new social situations and face increasing academic demands, which can lead to negative self-talk that undermines their confidence and limits their ability to succeed.
But as parents, caregivers, and educators, there are steps we can take to help children develop positive self-talk and set them on a path to success.
- Model Positive Self-Talk
Children often learn by example, so it’s important for adults to model positive self-talk in their own lives. Paying attention to the words you use when talking to yourself, and modeling positive self-talk in front of children can have a significant impact on their self-talk habits.
For example, if you spill coffee on your shirt before a big presentation, you could beat yourself up by saying I’m such an idiot! or you could take a more positive approach by telling yourself It’s okay, accidents happen. I’ll just change my shirt and move on. This type of self-talk models a growth mindset and resilience, teaching children that mistakes and setbacks are opportunities for growth and learning.
- Encourage Positive Self-Talk
Encouraging children’s positive self-talk is another way to promote healthy self-esteem and resilience. Praising their efforts and highlighting their strengths and accomplishments can help children to shift their self-talk towards positive affirmations and away from negative self-talk.
For example, if a child says I can’t do this math problem, it’s too hard, you could encourage them by saying, You’re doing a great job, keep trying! You’re really good at math.
By reinforcing their efforts and highlighting their strengths, children will learn to recognize the positive things about themselves and believe in their ability to achieve success.
- Help Children Identify and Change Negative Self-Talk
Unfortunately, negative self-talk is a common and sometimes difficult habit to break. That’s why it’s important to help children identify negative self-talk and develop strategies to change it.
Start by paying attention to the things children say to themselves. Do they often use negative language to describe themselves or their abilities? If so, help them to recognize these patterns and replace them with positive affirmations.
For example, if a child says I’m stupid, you could respond by saying, It’s not true, you’re very smart! You just need some help figuring this out. This type of response validates their feelings without reinforcing negative self-talk.
- Encourage Gratitude
Practicing gratitude is another way to promote positive self-talk and build resilience. Encouraging children to focus on the things they are grateful for can shift their perspective towards a more positive outlook on life.
For example, you could start a daily gratitude journal with your child, where they write down three things they are thankful for each day. This exercise can help children to recognize the positive things in their lives, which can improve their mood and self-talk.
In conclusion, developing positive self-talk is a critical skill for children of all ages, but particularly during the middle childhood years. By modeling positive self-talk, encouraging positive affirmations, helping children identify and change negative self-talk, and promoting gratitude, we can help set children on a path to success and well-being.
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Some facts you might be interested in
- • According to a study conducted by the American Psychological Association, children aged 812 are more likely to engage in positive selftalk than those aged 13
- • A study of middle school students found that those who engaged in positive selftalk had higher levels of selfesteem and better academic performance.
- • A survey of high school students found that those who engaged in positive selftalk were more likely to have higher levels of happiness and satisfaction with life.
- • A study of college students found that those who engaged in positive selftalk had higher levels of selfefficacy and better coping skills.