Did you grow up learning about positive self talk? I didn't. As little girls in the 80's and 90's, we were not taught to be empowered and confident. We were taught to be humble, not to take up too much space, and not to brag. For fear of being braggarts, many little girls grew up never speaking about themselves in a positive manner.
I wonder if I'm alone in this. In a group of female friends, do you hear yourself saying, "I'm not good at this," or "You are way better at this than I am?" Why do we so often put ourselves down, even when we are sharing something we are good at? Are these self-deprecating statements lowering our own self confidence? Should we be modeling this behavior for our children?
Although I usually share early literacy and math activities, I firmly believe in teaching the whole child. Children can only learn when their needs are being met emotionally, and if a child is experiencing something emotionally heightened, they may have trouble learning something new until those emotions are addressed.
When we build kids' confidence they feel more ready to take on challenges and deal with issues that arise. And a coping skill I have observed even in very young kids is positive self talk to help get through a tough situation. This can be anything from saying to oneself, "I'm a big kid! I can do it," to "I won't give up."
Most recently my friend told me her two year old was talking to himself encouragingly before bedtime in a new place, and he built his own confidence to get through an unknown and scary thing for him.
When confidence is low, kids are less likely to learn. By teaching kids how to use affirmation statements and see the positive things about themselves, we will increase their confidence and their ability to take on new, difficult tasks at home and in the classroom.
I use Confidence Cookies with my own children and the members of The Fun Club to teach about positive self-talk. In this activity our children are encouraged to see themselves in a positive light and speak about themselves positively out loud to us. Not only do I have all the kids do this activity, I also advise ALL adults doing the activity to participate!
When a parent or caretaker participates in positive self-talk, that is modeling the skill for the child, and the adults who care for us are our most important influences. If your child sees yourself speaking positively, gently, and kindly about your own self, they're more likely to do the same for themselves. The same is true if they hear you putting yourself down or speaking in a self-deprecating manner. Be mindful of what you say when you think they're not listening!
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Cut out the Confidence Cookies and place them in a jar or any container.
Invite your child to play. "There are pretend cookies in here with different questions and ideas. Can you pull one out?"
As they pull one out, read it to them and have them answer the question or complete the affirmation statement. Then you answer it! If they're having trouble answering, maybe jog their memory of a story or idea that will lead them to a positive self thought.
It's important to take time to pause and reflect on what makes us great, lovable, and important. If your child struggles with self-confidence, positive self talk may take some time to get used to, but it's worth it.
Keep the confidence cookies in the kitchen in a jar on the table. When you sit down at the table before a meal, have someone pick a confidence cookie from the jar. Everyone at the table has to answer the question. Your kids can even make their own cookies and add them to the jar for even more prompts. Incorporating positive self talk into your day is a process, not just a one time thing, so keep using those Confidence Cookies!