One major thought process that affects the way we feel about ourselves is called self-talk, or the dialogue we have inside our minds. It can be positive, negative or neutral. The quality of our self-talk directly impacts our happiness level, and can make life more stressful or less stressful depending upon how we are commenting on life inside our heads.
Positive self-talk helps us when we encounter situations in life that present obstacles. Often we wish we could shield our children from these obstacles, but the truth is that working through and triumphing over everyday problems is healthy for a child's development. The goal for all of us is to utilize positive thinking to tackle difficult situations without fear and look at them as challenges. Can you imagine how much easier life will be once this skill becomes habit? Problem-solving creates joy, satisfaction, and self-confidence for all of us. Positive self-talk is vital for a happy, successful life.
For example, if a child does poorly on a multiplication test, he or she might think "I can't do math", reinforcing feelings of frustration and discouragement. Negative self-talk attacks self-confidence like acid on paint until a child may question his/her ability to conquer any type of accomplishment or skill, creating a major roadblock for future success.
Think about the following quote. It's simple, but powerful.
"If babies held the same tendency toward self-criticism as adults, they might never learn to walk or talk. Can you imagine infants stomping, "Aarggh! Screwed up again!" Fortunately, babies are free of self-criticism. They just keep practicing."
— Dan Millman from Body Mind Mastery
Take a moment to really think about this. Before we had the ability to reason or understand failure, we all had to tackle some pretty tough tasks. There was a point in your life that you didn't know how to walk. You most likely tried and fell. The next step was to grab hold of something close to keep you stable. You probably fell again. But you eventually succeeded. At this point you didn't understand how to doubt yourself. You also had to learn how to speak and understand a language that was completely new to you. But you succeeded at this as well (barring any physical or mental disabilities). It is critical to teach our children that we invent and create self-doubt in our minds, and we (as individuals) are the ones responsible for what we think about. Children need to learn to interrupt negative self-talk and see disappointment and defeat from a more positive perspective.
In the example above, many factors could have contributed to the poor grade on the math test. Perhaps the child was tired, had issues at home, was facing the threat of a bully at school, or just needed more time to study. Positive self-talk isn't about making excuses, it's about letting go of negative thoughts, finding solutions, and grabbing onto motivation and determination to reach success. Doing this just a few times, tracking and reflecting upon these accomplishments, (with a tool such as The Worry Chest System) will naturally pave the way towards positive self-talk, resulting in an incredible foundation of self-confidence.
Once choice the child in question could choose is to wipe out negative self-talk by thinking, "I'll study more and do better next time" or "I know I'm good at math. I just need to try harder in this one area." When challenging situations develop, point out your child's strengths and let them know that you believe in them and will help them.
We know that improvement comes through practice. And when we're young we need the guidance of someone to tell us what to practice. Young children may not realize the importance of positive thinking and self-talk, but they will certainly thank you one day for helping them to create a solid foundation for their emotional strength and well-being.
The Worry Chest System is a fun and effective tool for teaching positive self-talk and so much more.