Is Your Child Prone To Negative Talk?
She’s been trying for a few days now. You have seen her at it. She’s been struggling to button up her shirt. But it is not happening well. She bangs her feet on the ground and is exasperated.
Suddenly she mumbles “I’m so dumb! I can’t do anything.”
Sounds familiar? You wonder ‘What is wrong with the kid?’ ‘Is she just being dramatic?’ ‘Does she really have such a low opinion of herself?’ ‘Why is she being so negative?’
How To Respond To Your Child’s Negative Talk?
When negative talk gushes out of your child’s mouth the first reaction is really re-assurance and positive re-enforcement.
Words like “No you are great,” “Don’t say that” might just not work because your little one is convinced at that point that she is!
She will still see herself as struggling, incompetent and unable to do things correctly.
- Response To Your Child’s Negative Talk #1
Empathize : Put yourself in your child’s shoes and try to understand what they she may be feeling. “I know buttoning up the shirt can be difficult.” Or “You know I used to find it difficult too.”
- Response To Your Child’s Negative Talk #2
Get curious: Start exploring. Some kids have a hard time verbalizing the problem. Exploring the situation with questions that might be bothering the child help her to understand. “I wonder why this assignment is tripping you up today.” or “Does writing normally bother you or just this one assignment?”
- Response To Your Child’s Negative Talk #3
Help your child re-phrase what she is feeling: Once you’ve explored, you can work together to create some new phrases that can help your child express her frustration. Using the words ‘frustrated’, ‘tired’ or making a ‘mistake.’ Assure your child with words like ‘making mistakes is part of learning.’ Or even, “Mom, I’m so frustrated with this assignment.”
- Response To Your Child’s Negative Talk #4
Problem-solve together: Resist the urge to suggest a solution to the problem or lead them to an answer that seems right to you. Working together as a team will help you lead the child and steer her in a child lead manner. Also, sometimes there is no easy solution but to work. So ask your child to say ‘I have to practice.’
- Response To Your Child’s Negative Talk #5
Challenge feelings: Since a lot of feelings are momentary and often pass with time. Re-enforce feelings of success and how hard work rewards. Feed her with stories of her own success so that she feels confident.
In the long run, work on creating an atmosphere that teaches your child confidence and a supportive environment that allows space for error.