Growing Self Compassion
The term monkey brain refers to the mind’s constant chatter. According to some brain scientists, the mind creates 50,000 thoughts a day. That chatter keeps us not only unfocused but out of touch. Much of that chatter unfortunately is negative self-talk. We are all at its mercy and children are no exception, which is why it is so important to help children learn about their ability to control negative self-talk.
Here are some steps to teach kids to use self-talk to manage feelings that are uncomfortable or feelings that cause problems:
- Recognize and observe the feeling-“I’m feeling sad because my friend isn’t talking to me.”
- Reflect on the mental message that created the feeling– “I’m thinking… There must be something wrong with me. Nobody likes me. I can’t do anything right.”
- Regulate the strength of the feeling by using a feeling scale- “On a scale from 1-10 what intensity of feeling does this situation call for?”
- Change the message to change the feeling-“What if I thought instead “What if it isn’t something that I’ve done? What if she is just having a bad day and doesn’t feel like talking? Maybe I’m taking this too personally. What could I do to clarify the situation?”
- Determine behavior and actions based on the new calmer feeling– “I can ask her how she is feeling and is there is something wrong.”
Learning to develop positive self-talk does take a lot of practice and insight. However it is a vital life skill that helps kids know how to manage feelings rather than letting feelings run the show. Understanding how thoughts create feelings rather than the other way around is empowering because it doesn’t teach a pat response to coping with a negative feeling. Instead, it teaches kids how to manage their self-talk in a positive way that is applicable to any situation.