How to Teach Your Child About Positive Self-Talk

Teach Your Child About Positive Self-Talk

It’s normal for someone to doubt themself. If anything, it’s a good thing to an extent. It’s necessary for one to recognize their own limits and when it’s time to throw in the towel. With adults, a normal amount of doubt is healthy and a sign of an understanding of oneself.

The same can’t really be said for children. The obstacles they face aren’t as impossible as the ones we often stumble into, but can be just as daunting. It’s worsened by the fact that because of their young age, they’re far more influenced by a few nasty words from cruel kids or careless adults. Failing grades, difficulty in hobbies and activities, and being told they’re just not good enough can have a lasting impact on a child, and if a child doesn’t know how to counteract their doubts with a positive mindset, it can lead to general low self-esteem.

So what can you do to help your child engage in a more positive mindset? Well I’ll guide you through what we call “positive self-talk”, to help lift your child’s spirits and get them to believe in themself once again.


What is Positive Self-Talk?

Positive Self-Talk

Positive self-talk is, in essence, a coping mechanism. It helps those using it to reframe their thinking and builds up their self-esteem, all the while allowing them to build up a healthy amount of resilience towards things that may cause doubt. It will help you teach your child appreciation as well.

To call it a “coping mechanism” may not be giving it enough credit, however, as it’s helpful in retraining one’s mind to understand their own strengths and recognizing opportunities when they arise. 

This is incredibly important if your child happens to practice negative self-talk, which can only further break themselves down if not corrected. Negative self-talk only reaffirms any beliefs they have that they should stop trying at the slightest obstacle, to disengage from their hobbies, and to encourage their own failure.

Here is what negative self-talk looks like:

  • This is too hard. I can’t do it.
  • I don’t know how to do that.
  • Someone else that’s better than me should handle it.
  • It won’t work.
  • I tried it and I failed
  • I’m not good enough.

Now here are some examples of positive self-talk:

  • This is tough, but so am I. I’ll figure it out.
  • I don’t know how to do that, but I can learn.
  • I’m not the best, but practice makes perfect.
  • I don’t know, but I’ll come up with an answer.
  • I’ll get it right next time.
  • I trust myself to succeed.

Once a child learns how to replace negative self-talk with positive self-talk, they’re already on the right track towards success.


Be Aware of How Your Child Sees Themself

How Your Child Sees Themself

When it comes to helping your child with their self-esteem, you need to understand where their self esteem is in the first place, and it’s usually through monitoring any negative self-talk. Even if it’s just in passing and as a joke, it should be addressed. Many people use self-deprecating humor as a means of subtly communicating their own lowered self-esteem, and many times they themselves don’t realize it. Children do this as well, so make sure that they need to practice more positive self-talk.

Your child may have many insecurities, some that you perhaps aren’t aware of. What you need to do is not focus on these insecurities and insead foster a mindset of positivity.


Correct Negative Self-Talk

Negative Self-Talk

Negative self-talk should be treated like a bad word. Not that it should be punished, but that it just needs to be corrected. If you catch your child using negative self-talk, you should try to stop them and teach them positive self-talk. A child won’t be able to quit saying bad things until you give them a few alternatives.

For example, “I can’t,” should be removed from the lexicon entirely. Even if they legitimately can’t do something because they’re not old enough, it still should not be used. Try to use phrases like “I can try” or “I wish I could, but [reason]” instead.

Don’t allow phrases like “I’m not good enough”. Teach them to trust themselves. “I’ll do the best I can” is a great alternative for them.

One thing I also suggest (to an extent) is not allowing them to give up after one try. If they try something out and fail and decide they’re not good enough, try to draw them into a second attempt before letting it drop. If it’s clearly making them uncomfortable, though, then it’s best to just wait for another day.


Create Awareness Through Self-Talk

Awareness Through Self-Talk

It’s important that you help your child understand their strengths and to not focus on their weaknesses. I said earlier that having a healthy amount of doubt didn’t really apply to children, and I stand by that. Children are brimming with potential, and you need to make them aware of that.

Don’t let them focus on their insecurities; make them aware of their strengths and their potential. Make them aware that even if they find themselves faltering, they can always get better. Highlight what they’re good at, and when they overcome an obstacle that they’d had doubts about, you need to lay the praise on thick. It helps nurture that confidence they need.


Have Discussions Using Positive Self-Talk

Discussions Using Positive Self-Talk

This goes hand in hand with being aware of your child’s own self-esteem. I’m not suggesting that you go into some deep discussions with your child; I’m talking about more of the “how was your day at school” type of conversations. That way, things don’t get too repetitive. If any problems crop up in your child’s day, focus on that a bit. See how your child speaks about it, and whether or not their talk is negative or positive when referring to themselves.

Again, any negative language needs to be corrected. If the problem is still ongoing, you should be there to provide support, but you should never get to the point where you’re fixing the problem for them. This is about building up your child’s confidence and trust in themselves.