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Your Help Child's Negative Self-Talk

7 Ways to Address Your Child’s Negative Self-Talk

Written by Jenja Sineva

15 June 2022

Negative self-talk can have damaging consequences, like depression and low self-esteem. By learning how to stop negative self-talk head-on, you can redirect the conversations to reflect on who your child truly is and help them to realize their potential. Here are seven tips on how to stop negative self-talk in your child.

Revise your own speech.

As parents, we often raise our children with a requirement to meet our grand expectations and standards. With the intention of motivating our children, we start comparing them with their peers and siblings. We often do not realize how damaging this kind of talk may be. This can lead to broken self-esteem. So, when you hear your child say such self-criticism examples as “I’m stupid” or “I am not good at anything” you naturally start wondering how to stop negative self-talk. Firstly, make sure you do not contribute to your child’s self-criticism by comparing them unfavorably with others. Avoid such comparisons at all costs and do not shame your child for failing to meet your unrealistically ambitious standards. Instead, support your child and emphasize their strengths and talents.

Stop and listen for self-criticism examples.

If you have determined that your child’s negative self-talk is not a result of your own doing, simply close your mouth and open your ears. As parents, we are often prone to jumping to conclusions without even learning what is the matter. We think we know better. Well, the truth is, we often do not. If you want to learn how to stop negative self-talk, listen actively to what your child has to say, noting not just words and facts, but the emotions. Show that it is ok to talk openly. It is ok to share. Just the simple fact of listening can give a signal to your child that their feelings and opinions matter. If one of the self-criticism examples your child gives is, “I think I stink at cricket” ask why they think that. When you pinpoint a problem, do not rush to offer a solution, or remove the problem by yourself. Guide your child to their own solution. This will empower them and will help to raise their self-esteem.

Help them find their voice.

Very often if a child thinks they are bad in one area, this will affect their perception of themselves in other areas. This is when it is important to help them find one thing, they are good at. Ideally, an activity that will help them learn how to stop negative self-talk. Bring your child somewhere where they can get the sense of space, size, and capacity, where they can run, jump, shout or laugh aloud. This can be a field, a hill, a stadium, or a trampoline park. Encourage your child to let out cooped-up emotions and reflect on how they can channel their energy into something they like. If they find a healthy activity they enjoy, this will help them raise their self-esteem and teach them how to stop negative self-talk.

Sleep. Eat. Exercise.

It may be easy to miss, but does your child sleep and eat well and exercise enough? As a parent leading a busy life full of stress, you may not be in full awareness of that. An exhausted and malnourished child will not have enough energy to perform well at school and as a result, will be more prone to negative self-talk and low self-esteem. For example, if your child says, “I’m going to fail this test,” make sure their basic needs in sleep, food, and exercise are fulfilled. A child who sleeps enough eats well, and has regular physical exercise will be likely to feel better about themselves and show better performance.

How to stop negative self-talk? The answer is socializing.

Sometimes self-criticism examples can be a sign that your child feels lonely and wants to attract attention. This is when you need to check whether your child has enough socializing. Children who feel they play a significant role among their peers are more likely to feel good about themselves. Indeed, people influence our self-esteem around us. If your child’s friends believe that your child is important in their social group, your child will think that too. Therefore, it is important for a parent to encourage their children to participate in community activities and join desirable social groups. At school and in various community centers there are many clubs available to suit anyone’s taste. It is also important to make sure your child has time and space available to play with friends.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Tricks

Anyone who is familiar with the concept of CBT knows that any problem can be broken into five interconnected areas: situation, thoughts, emotions, physical feelings, and actions. These areas are interconnected and changes in one can bring about changes in others. For example, your child’s thoughts about a particular situation can often affect how your child feels both physically and emotionally, as well as how he or she acts in response. At the same time, a mere change in a body position or an unusual action can stop the cycle from developing. While CBT’s best results are achieved under the guidance of a therapist, it does not mean we cannot use certain techniques on our own.

Parental self-esteem and love

Every time we fly on a plane we hear, “In case of a cabin pressure emergency, put on your own mask first before assisting others.” This phrase speaks the truth. You cannot help others unless you take care of yourself first. Families with parents who exhibit self-love seem to be happier and more fulfilled. Besides, who, if not you, are your child going to model themselves after? If you value and take care of yourself, you will set a model example to your child.

In conclusion, it is important to mention that a healthy dose of self-criticism is good, but excessive negative self-talk can be a sign of depression. If you feel that the latter may apply in the case of your child, you may need to seek professional help and consider arranging for your child to visit a counselor or psychiatrist.


Jenja Sineva is an admissions consultant with over 12 years in the industry during which she has helped over five hundred clients with admission into top MBA and master-level programs at Harvard, Stanford, Chicago, Wharton, Berkeley, Columbia, LBS, and other top-rated business schools

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Chris is from Devon, in the south of England. He has been teaching English as a foreign language for over six years and has taught in China, the UK, Hungary and Spain. He has a background in Music and studied Composition at the RSAMD in Glasgow, Trinity Laban in London and at the University of York. After finishing his master’s at York, he travelled to China to teach and fell in love with it. He has been teaching ever since.

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