What is positive self-talk?
Positive self-talk has the power to build kids and young adults up. These are the positive words and phrases we say to ourselves to help us feel encouraged and empowered to accomplish tough things.
Of course, it’s important to note that positive self-talk isn’t a fix for everything. It won’t magically finish an assignment for you and won’t solve all your problems. Instead, positive self-talk trains your brain to build your confidence, see the positive in tough situations, learn from mistakes, and get back up after setbacks. Positive self-talk opens the door for success by changing your mindset from “I can’t” to “Let me see how I can.”
What are the benefits of using positive self-talk?
The benefits of positive self-talk are real. Using more positive words can help increase our confidence, improve our attitude, promote a sense of calm, help us work through challenges, encouraging taking new risks, and help us reach our goals. Additionally, using positive self-talk is a lifelong coping strategy necessary for managing tough emotions and stress.
Why is teaching self-talk important?
So often, positive self-talk doesn’t come naturally. Instead, kids and young adults might be more likely to use negative self-talk. They might say things to themselves like, “You’ll never be able to do this,” and “You’re so dumb.” These words and phrases can actually be harmful, discouraging kids from working through challenges or taking on risks. It’s common that negative self-talk has become a habit. By teaching positive affirmations and self-talk, you can help children and teens to change those words into more positive ones.
It’s also critical to note that using positive affirmations and self-talk is really a practice. It’s not something that you can perfect on the first try. By explicitly teaching self-talk and making it a routine, it becomes a healthy practice in our lives.
How can I teach positive self-talk to kids and young adults?
There are several strategies for teaching and practicing positive self-talk with kids and teens. Many of these strategies can be done in the classroom or at home.
Explain Why Self-Talk Matters. Start by explaining to kids and teens why learning positive self-talk is important for them. Ultimately, by changing our words, we can change our thoughts about ourselves. When we change our thoughts, we can be driven to do more than we originally thought we could. This applies to situations in every student’s life, from just before taking a challenging math test to heading into the big soccer game.
Read Positive Affirmations. Have kids and young adults read through this free printable positive affirmation list. Spend time reading them aloud. This can seem silly for some students at first, especially if they haven’t developed a strong positive voice yet. Learners can then read them to themselves quietly or with a partner. Have students make their own flashcards to read to themselves or grab these positive self-talk cards and put them on a ring.
Create a Daily Affirmation List. Have students choose their top ten positive affirmation statements and write them out on an individualized list. Have your learners keep this list handy. They can read it before a challenging test or when they are feeling overwhelmed. Better yet, make it a daily practice by reading them aloud every morning before starting class.
Model Positive Self-talk. Learners need to hear adults using positive self-talk. Start the morning with, “Today is going to be an awesome day.” Before an assessment remind your students, “Let’s take a deep breath. We can do this.”
Practice with Scenarios. Come up with situations that students might experience and ask kids to give examples of positive self-talk. For example, imagine a student feels worried about a presentation in front of the class. What could he or she say to themselves to help them feel more calm and confident? This is a great activity to do with only just a few minutes left of class before a transition.
Use Positive Affirmations During Morning Meeting. Start your morning on a positive note with saying one positive affirmation aloud together as a group. You can choose the positive statement for your students or have them be the leader.
Use Literature. While reading a short story or novel, ask students to think about what positive self-talk a character might use to overcome a challenge or work through a difficult circumstance.
Integrate Art and Crafts. Hands-on activities are a great way to help kids remember the positive self-talk they are learning. Have them draw a portrait of themselves with positive self-talk statements all around or use a positive self-talk flower craft to write one positive statement in each flower petal. While you are at it, read up on other art activities for social emotional learning.
Where can I get more information on positive self-talk?
Here are some helpful links to learn more about positive self-talk and how it can help kids and young adults:
- Why Positive Self-Talk is Worth It
- 101 Positive Affirmations for Kids
- 15+ Positive Affirmations Activities for Kids and Teens
- How to Teach Positive Self-Talk
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