Parenting Vivian | 29 Jan 2010 04:32 am

Five Keys for Dealing with the Evil of Negative Self-talk

Have you ever heard a child say words like-

Im dumb?/p>

Im stupid?/p>

Im just not good enough?/p>

I hate myself?/p>

I wish I wasnt born?

These are all examples of negative self-talk, one of the most destructive habits that a child (or an adult for that matter) can have. Unfortunately this is all too common amongst children today. In just about every classroom teachers will be able to identify children who put themselves down, and typically the comments they make will be totally out of all proportion to the reality of any situation they may be facing.

Negative self-talk is much worse than many other bad habits (like biting fingernails) that people develop, because it attacks their own identity, and invariably leads to problems such as:

* low self-esteem;

* unhappiness;

* inability to make friends, and

* poor performance in school.

If your child has been engaged in negative self-talk, you need to act NOW. If it has just started you need to nip the problem in the bud, NOW. If it has been going on for some time, you need to act NOW to prevent it from becoming an entrenched habit.

Here are some steps that you can take to help your child:

1. Let your child know regularly that he or she is loved. Show this love in words and in actions.

2. Look for opportunities to praise your child for achievements or positive behaviors. Be real in your comments, but not flattering ?children are experts at detecting insincerity!

3. Look for opportunities to praise your child when talking to others. This is especially effective if you are talking to a friend and your child is in an adjacent room and in earshot but is not a part of the conversation.

4. Find a time when your child is in a good mood, and give some instruction on how and why you would like them to stop the negative selftalk. Discuss together some appropriate responses to the incidents that have tended to lead to this problem. Get an agreement on the right way to respond!

5. If the negative talk starts, kindly but firmly put a stop to it straight away. Remind your child of the agreement you made together.

The aim is for children to have a positive and healthy self-image but without an inflated ego. If you suspect the problems your child has are deep seated and not responding to your efforts, it is recommended that you seek professional advice from a qualified psychologist or family counselor.

Wayne and Jenny Gillie are parents and school teachers, and have established as a resource for parents and teachers who want to improve the self confidence of their children or students.

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