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The Importance of Teaching Positive Self-Talk to Your Kids

Updated: 6 days ago

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Teaching children positive self-talk is an important skill for them to learn as they grow and develop.

Having a child therapy background, I've always been of the mindset that kids should be taught to use their inner language as early as possible to best support them throughout their lives.

Positive self-talk helps kids to build self-esteem, manage stress, and develop healthy relationships. It also helps them to focus on their goals and to stay motivated to achieve them.

Studies have shown that up to 90% of what we say to ourselves in our heads is negative. That's a pretty staggering amount of negative self-talk!

How can we strive to be our best if most of what we typically say to ourselves is working against us? This is definitely something worth changing!

In order to teach our kids to be able to filter out negativity, we have to teach them to talk to themselves like they would talk to a best friend. Self-talk can be taught to children of all ages, from preschoolers to high schoolers.

Let's face it, many of us adults could use some brushing up on this important skill. :) Self-talk can be taught through activities, books, and role-play, and the teaching can start in the comfort of our own homes.

What is positive self-talk and why is it important?

Positive self-talk is the practice of speaking to yourself in a way that encourages and supports your self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-love.

When people speak to themselves in a negative way, it's called self-derogation. This is when people talk to themselves about their flaws and imperfections, about things that they did that weren't good enough, and so on.

People who engage in self-derogation often feel like they're "not worth the effort" or that their situation is "just too hard to change."

Kids learn how to think, feel, and behave by observing the people around them. Kids watch their parents and other adults and pick up on their positive or negative behaviors.

Kids can see the influence that the adults in their lives are having on them, so teaching them positive self-talk is an important way to shape their minds and hearts for the future.

Benefits of positive self-talk

Positive self-talk is helpful for anxiety - People who struggle with anxiety often experience a little bit of self-doubt and self-criticism that is quite normal. Positive self-talk helps to reduce the anxiety that is caused by self-criticism, as people learn to appreciate their efforts and acknowledge their strengths.

Positive self-talk is helpful for bullying prevention - Kids who are encouraged to speak positively to themselves are less likely to bully other people. Kids who feel confident and good about themselves are less likely to act out aggressively towards others.

Positive self-talk helps with goal setting - Setting goals is a crucial part of becoming successful in life. People who regularly engage in positive self-talk are much more likely to actually achieve their goals, as they have a better idea of how far they are capable of achieving.

Positive self-talk encourages perseverance - When it comes to achieving goals, perseverance is key. Positive self-talk makes people feel confident and good about themselves, creating the motivation to keep pushing forward even when they feel discouraged.

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Tips for encouraging positive self-talk in ourselves and our kids

1. Accept yourself - This is a key thing that you can do for your self-esteem and self-worth. No one else has the power to make you feel good about yourself, you do.

2. Get presence from your feelings - This is a really major point. You don't have to try to silence your feelings and pretend they aren't there. You don't have to be afraid of them. Instead, you can get presence from them. You can use your feelings as a guide and a map in your life.

3. Give yourself compliments - This is a very important skill to learn. If you're not used to giving yourself compliments or gracefully accepting them from others, it can take practice to get comfortable saying kind and loving things to yourself. The more we practice reframing our thoughts, the more our brains believe it, so practice away.

4. Remind yourself of your goals - This helps to keep you focused on the things that you want to achieve and prevents you from getting discouraged and feeling like you're not progressing. Teach kids how to set goals and to recognize and be proud of their accomplishments.

5. Make a list of things that you like about yourself - This list can be kept in a notebook, on a blog, or in a journal. It can be a list of traits, skills, or things that you like about your personality. Post this list or be sure to look at it, particularly when faced with self-doubt or needing some encouragement.

Examples of positive self-talk

"I'm smart and creative."

"I'm a good listener, and I'm caring towards my friends."

"I did my best on my project today. I worked really hard, and the project turned out really well."

"I'm doing really well in this class. I'm getting better and better everyday."

Strategies for teaching self-talk to kids

Kids can be encouraged to practice self-talk through role-play, stories, and through self-expression activities such as art, crafts, and journaling. Drawing, writing, and other artistic activities are a great way to get kids feeling more confident about expressing themselves, as well as to begin to notice their feelings.

Journaling is another great way to get kids thinking about the emotions that are present in their lives and to begin to notice those emotions for what they are. Parents can also encourage self-talk by modeling positive behaviors and showing kids that they too can be confident and loving without needing to be perfect.

These self-expression activities are a great way to help kids feel more open and less afraid of their emotions. This is a safe way to help them share what they're feeling without worrying about being judged for showing those emotions in public.

Reading books with our kids about practicing positive thinking and using positive self-talk is a great way to teach this important skill in a very relatable way. A good example of one of these books is Preston's Positive Thoughts by Jenelle French and Karina Yasinova.

Teaching children positive self-talk is an excellent way to help them to build self-esteem, cope with stress, and develop healthy relationships with others. It can also help to make kids feel more confident and hopeful about the future, as well as to make them less likely to bully or engage in aggressive behavior.

With a little bit of guidance and encouragement, kids can learn to talk to themselves in a more positive way, helping them to become more confident and resilient all the way into adulthood.

Need some tips to support your HealthSmart! Kid who struggles with anxiety? Check out our blog post 5 Fun and Effective Relaxation Strategies for Anxious Kids here. 

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All blog content shared through HealthSmart! Kids is for informational purposes only and not to be construed as medical advice. Always talk with your qualified health care provider for managing your health care needs.

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