“I’m not capable of doing this!” Samuel’s math paper suddenly flies across the table. Even while you want to counter, “Jackson, we’re only in math time for 4.2 seconds,” you know it won’t help. His self-assurance is nothing. It’s not going to change if you beg him to try. So, what’s next? He has successfully conditioned his mind to believe that he will flunk in math.
Teaching Samuel and other students like him about the power of self-talk is one method to approach them.
What exactly is self-talk?
The constant stream of messages from your inner monologue is known as self-talk. It usually doesn’t happen out loud, but I’m sure we’ve all made audible comments to ourselves when no one else is present. Self-talk isn’t something that can be turned on and off with ease. Making children aware of the substance embedded in the stream of communications, on the other hand, can help to boost their self-esteem and confidence.
You already know that there are intrinsic themes in your mind’s continual chatter if you make deliberate attempts to listen to them. Those messages might be generally favourable or packed with self-doubt and negativity, depending on how you feel about yourself and your talents. Children are in the same boat. Students with high self-esteem have more positive self-talk than students with low self-esteem.
Aiding students in changing their self-talk
To assist the Samuels in your classroom, the first step is to raise awareness. There are two ways to accomplish this. Children must first have a fundamental concept of self-talk. What exactly is it? What effect does it have on one’s self-esteem and confidence? The second component of the equation entails recognising self-talk in everyday situations. Inquire kids about their perceptions of their ability in several areas, such as athletics, the arts, and various scholastic topics. Determine your areas of weakness as well as your areas of strength. When you encounter a work that seems manageable, what does your internal voice say? Consider an activity that has previously been shown to be really tough for you.
Now that students have a greater understanding of what self-talk is, they will be able to recognise it in a variety of settings. Over the span of a week, have students record the messages they get from their inner voice. Always have a little notebook or journal in hand. Students should be reminded that self-talk is a never-ending process. It occurs on a regular basis. They should be able to document five inner voice messages per day at the very least.
Analyse the messages
Have students look for patterns or themes in their self-talk. Jennet, for example, might observe that she starts to feel bad around 10:00 a.m., shortly before we start studying science. She dreads returning after PE since she knows it will be time to begin the science lab, something she is unfamiliar with. “Hopefully my partner, Jenice, knows this stuff since I assume I can just copy from her,” her voice says. The first step in combating negative self-talk is to recognise these habits.
Choose a name for the negative voice
I assure you that your children will have fun naming their negative internal voice, as weird as it may sound. Before you let them loose, give them a few examples. Adverse Annie, Ruthless Roald, Cranky Karen, Sabotaging Salvy, Pessimistic Paula, and so on are examples of fixed mindset voices. Children can step outside of themselves by naming this aspect of their voice. Children learn that their voice does not define them and that they can treat it as if it were a distinct entity. As a result of the impact, kids reclaim the dominance and influence that is rightfully theirs. This may be sufficient for some pupils to make some adjustments from fixed towards growth mindset thinking.
Practice reframing negative self-talk into positive self-talk
Reframing your mindset is changing bad thoughts, statements, or events into more positive ones. Students can write about their own self-talk in the journal or take notes. Begin with negative self-talk examples. “Everyone knows I can’t win this challenge,” for example. Rephrase the fixed mindset phrase into a positive message, utilising the name they chose for their negative voice. “Good try, Ruthless Roald,” for example, may be a reframing. Even if I don’t win, this challenge will teach me something!” To keep your talents strong, practise with a variety of negative messages. This exercise is essential if we ever expect pupils to monitor and reinterpret their own self-talk on their own (and should be revisited periodically throughout the year).
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Reframes in the real world
This is where it gets a lot easier to help Jackson. You get to add this self-talk lesson to your arsenal of tricks if you’re already teaching your kids about fixed mindset and growth mindset notions. Your reaction to Jackson could be as easy as a brief thought to let him know you’ve heard him, followed by a request to take action. “Jacob, you sound quite irritated. I’m curious as to what plan or first action you could take.” If Jackson is stumped, try checking your inner voice and rephrasing the message if necessary, taking a few deep breaths, checking with a friend, rereading the directions, or asking me for assistance.
Use positive affirmations
I believe strongly in the power of positive words. A positive affirmation can almost always be used to substitute a bad message from the internal voice.
Supportive self-talk picture books
Children of all ages should be exposed to picture books. R.J. Palacio’s We’re All Wonders, Peter Reynolds’ The Dot, Wayne Dyer’s Unstoppable Me, and others are some picture book titles that could help children adjust their viewpoint.
Every child is unique, and their needs are as well. Children require assistance recognising moments when their positive reframe or affirmation was true in order to believe their reframed positive messaging. You can assist the learner by asking them to reflect on previous experiences. For example, when was the last time you attempted something extremely difficult? What went wrong? What did you learn from the endeavour, even though you didn’t succeed? How did you deal with mistakes you made along the way? Would you deal with them the same way now or in a different way? Why?
These types of inquiries won’t instantly change a child’s perspective or automatically promote good self-talk, but they will help children recognise that what matters are their efforts, processes, and tenacity. A failed attempt is preferable to no try at all, regardless of the outcome.
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