Positive self-talk is a powerful tool with big results. Essentially, it is the technique that can help us direct our thoughts in positive, encouraging, and solution-focused ways. This can be especially beneficial for children and teens learning to cope with big emotions and navigate through life’s challenges.
And teaching, modeling, and practicing positive self-talk on a regular basis is worth it. Just a few of the benefits to teaching positive self-talk include:
- Positive self-talk is a coping skill to combat stress and tough emotions.
- Self-talk improves attitude and encourages motivation.
- It encourages kids to love themselves and build confidence.
- Positive self-talk can help kids and teens problem-solve through challenges.
There are many different techniques to integrate and teach positive self-talk. Journal writing is one of them. It’s a favorite for many because it allows educators and parents to seamlessly weave social-emotional practice into the every day.
Best of all, journaling integrates academics with SEL skills at the very same time. Even if the school day doesn’t provide extra time for social-emotional learning on its own, you can always build those skill with journal-writing.
Just a note that many of the images below are from my Positive Self-Talk Journal, but I’ve written instructions so you can try on your own as well!
Here are some positive self-talk journal activities you can try:
Write, Say, Share
Write, say, share is a three part positive self-talk practice with affirmations. The parts include:
- Introduce a new positive affirmation to kids and teens. Have them rewrite it in their journals. You can even encourage them to use different colors or styles as they re-write it out.
- Next, have them say it to themselves. This can be silently, but it helps to say the affirmation aloud for the first few times. Say it loud and proud!
- Finally, encourage kids to share what it means to them and when they might use this self-talk statement.
Write and Reflect
Have students share their own feelings and thoughts. This can be free-write activity where kids and teens can express how they are feeling in the moment. After writing, have students reflect on their own thoughts and feelings. Then, list out three positive self-talk statements to help them cope with those emotions.
This activity teaches a meaningful coping skill that kids and teens can take with them wherever they go. Positive self-talk can even help build perspective-taking abilities, because it encourages us to understand and approach a situation from a different angle.
For this activity, introduce a negative thought someone might have. Some negative thoughts might include:
- “I’ll never finish my homework on time.”
- “I’m just bad at math. It’s not worth trying.”
- “I should be better at reading by now.”
While these are negative self-talk statements, they are absolutely thoughts that might try to sneak into our brains sometimes. Have kids and teens come up with alternative self-talk phrases they can say instead.
Just as an example, let’s use the “I’ll never finish my homework on time,” statement. For this, kids and teens instead might say something like, “I know I have a lot of homework, but I can do this.”
This forces kids to challenge the negative self-talk they might start to think, while also developing solutions for that problem along the way.
Affirmation of the Day
Have students choose one positive affirmation for the day. This can be individualized, and any phrase they choose. Have them write what the statement means to them and how they will use it today to help them do their best. Use this free printable positive affirmation poster to have students select their favorites.
Fill In the Blank
Fill-in-the-blank activities provide some prompting and guidance to coming up with self-talk statements. Give kids and teens a sentence starter and have them finish it. Some examples you might try include:
- I feel…
- I’m learning…
- I can…
After coming up with their positive self-talk statement, kids and teens can write or draw what it means to them.
Beyond the Words
For this journal activity, kids and teens will learn a positive self-talk statement, but delve a bit deeper about what it means and why it matters. For example, you might introduce the phrase “I love myself for who I am.” Then, ask learners: What does it mean to love yourself? What do you love about YOU?
Provide kids and teens with a list of various positive self-talk statements. It can be a long list or a smaller one you’ve put together. Have them read and choose their top three statements for the day. They can read, rewrite, and draw about why they are important for the day.
I love this exercise because it reinforces the idea that we all need different affirmations and self-talk statements at different times.
Write a Story
Provide kids with their positive self-talk statement of the day. Then, have them write out a story where they (or an imaginary character) uses the statement in a meaningful way.
Positive Self-Talk Journal
Give children and young adults the positive self-talk practice they need with a positive self-talk journal. It is filled with meaningful daily activities to build a positive voice, embrace self-love, and provide emotional support along the way.
More Positive Self-Talk Ideas
Need more ideas? Learn about more fun, engaging, and meaningful positive self-talk activities you can try with your learners.