Developing Positive Self Talk in School Age Children

I can do it

There has been a lot of recent buzz around the idea of the “Growth Mindset” from Carol S. Dweck. A piece of the “Growth Mindset” is developing in inner monologue of “I can”. Which ends up being how to tame the invading negative thoughts. This post is dedicated to developing the “I can” in school-age kids.

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General

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Improving Achievement Through Self-Talk – Trish Spencer

Five Key Points

In What Students Say to Themselves: Internal Dialogue and School Success (Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, 2000), William Watson Purkey suggests the following five points to keep in mind as you try to shape students’ self-talk:

  1. What significant people think about students and how they act toward students influences how students define themselves.
  2. How students define themselves in their internal dialogue influences their academic success and failure.
  3. Everything the school does and the way things are done influences what students say to themselves.
  4. Altering how students define themselves involves altering the total school environment.
  5. The task of the school is to structure experiences that reduce crippling self-talk while inviting students to define themselves in essentially positive and realistic ways. (p. 77)

Research of Positive Self Talk

Coping Thoughts

 Stop, and breathe, I can do this
 This will pass
 I can be anxious/angry/sad and still deal with this
 I have done this before, and I can do it again
 This feels bad, it’s a normal body reaction – it will pass
 This feels bad, and feelings are very often wrong
 These are just feelings, they will go away
 This won’t last forever
 Short-term pain for long-term gain
 I can feel bad and still choose to take a new and healthy direction
 I don’t need to rush, I can take things slowly
 I have survived before, I will survive now
 I feel this way because of my past experiences, but I am safe right now
 It’s okay to feel this way, it’s a normal reaction
 Right now, I am not in danger. Right now, I’m safe
 My mind is not always my friend
 Thoughts are just thoughts – they’re not necessarily true or factual
 This is difficult and uncomfortable, but it’s only temporary
 I can use my coping skills and get through this
 I can learn from this and it will be easier next time

Source

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Specific Strategies

Help your learner see the positive by Reframing their Thoughts in a positive light.

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STOP Plan

Scared?
Thoughts?
Other helpful thoughts?
Praise and Plan!

 Developing and Using Cognitive Coping Cards

Example of Coping Card-

My Coping Card to Beat Anxiety!
1. Anxiety is not dangerous. It can’t hurt me! It’s just a bully!
2. I can boss back my anxiety. I have done it before!
3. If my heart is racing, I get sweaty, and my tummy hurts. That means that my anxiety
is acting up. I’m not in danger.
4. I could do some relaxation now.

My Coping Card to Beat Anxiety!
1. My face is getting hot and my head is getting dizzy! My anxiety is acting up again!
2. Maybe I need to use the STOP plan now! *
3. If I’m feeling anxious, I could do some calm breathing to calm down.
4. I have lots of friends at school, and they like me even when I get anxious. They told
me so.

coping tool box

Source

power-of-positivity-workshopPOWER OF POSITIVITY PRINTABLE WORKSHOP

This is a printable workshop with a selection of activities, worksheets and craft ideas plus 30 exercises to help you develop a positive mindset.  To be used at home or in the classroom; for kids and/or adults. Cost 9.99

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Influencing Student Self Concept

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Many times in my work as a School Psychologist I see students who are capable of doing the work, but their self-concept as not being a learner gets in the way of success.

Four ideas for teachers to help start students thinking of themselves as competent learners.

  1. Start with what they are doing well at academically. (Be specific and authentic)
  2. Ask the student what might be missing from your instruction that they need to be more successful.
  3. When a student has responded to corrective feedback, praise the student with specifics on how they helped to transform their learning and you are excited to keep watching them grow as a learner.
  4. Connect and talk to your grade level team and also support staff (Principal, Counselor, and School Psychologist) to get more ideas and tools to support your student in need.

Articles

Self-Concept and Self-Esteem in Adolescents (NASP)

Understanding and Fostering Achievement Motivation (NASP)

Student Self Esteem and the School System: Perceptions and Implications

Dr. Ken Shore’s Classroom Problem Solver -The Student With Low Self-Esteem

Self-concept and School Performance – UCLA

SELF-BELIEFS AND SCHOOL SUCCESS: SELF-EFFICACY, SELF-CONCEPT, AND SCHOOL ACHIEVEMENT

Ideas to support students

Characteristic How to support
Sense of security
  • Maintain a safe and healthy learning environment by following safety policies and procedures.
  • Show all children you care about their well-being by talking to them each day and learning about their lives.
  • Be consistent and follow through on your promises.
Sense of belonging
  • Create a community atmosphere.
  • Celebrate all children as individuals.
  • Implement a zero-tolerance policy on bullying, and promote kindness and character education.
Sense of purpose, responsibility and contribution
  • Give children responsibilities in the environment.
  • Ask for input from children when creating activity plans and setting themes.
Sense of personal competence and pride
  • Give children opportunities for success.
  • Have activities that are varied in levels of difficulty so that children can be challenged in a safe way.
Sense of trust
  • Gain the trust of children by creating an atmosphere based on respect and kindness.
  • Set boundaries that give children opportunities for safe risk taking.
  • Be consistent and follow through on your promises.
Sense of making real choices and decisions
  • Give children the opportunity to choose their activities, field trips, etc. Make them feel like their input and voice matters by taking their suggestions seriously and using them to develop activity plans.
Sense of self-discipline and self-control
  • Use positive guidance methods that support school-age children and their ability to regulate their own behavior.
  • Help children gain self-control by teaching them coping techniques.
Sense of encouragement, support and reward
  • Provide guidance, encouragement, feedback and praise when children are working hard towards any goal (big or small).
Sense of accepting mistakes and failures
  • Turn mistakes, setbacks or failures into learning opportunities by talking to children about what happened. Discuss with them the choices, steps or decisions that could have changed the outcome.
  • Always talk about how a child would do something differently in the future. This helps them to apply their current situation to future events.
Sense of family self-esteem
  • Families are a child’s first and most important caregiver, teacher and advocate. Children need to feel comfortable, loved and safe within their family unit.
  • Work with families to support their needs.

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics (2015). Caring for Your School-Age Child: Ages 5 to 12. Available at:https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/gradeschool/Pages/Helping-Your-Child-Develop-A-Healthy-Sense-of-Self-Esteem.aspx

Source:  https://www.virtuallabschool.org/school-age/self-culture/lesson-2

Course work

Complete Lesson on Building self-concept of school aged children

Video

Caregivers give their own examples on how to promote positive self-concept in children Video

Quick Measure

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