Positive Self Talk

positive self talk

I Can’t Do It!

“If parents want to give their children a gift, the best thing they can do is to teach their children to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, and keep on learning. That way, their children don’t have to be slaves of praise. They will have a lifelong way to build and repair their own confidence.”

-Carol Dweck, The Growth Mindset

What is self-talk? 

You guessed it — self-talk is a conversation you have with yourself! Some people call it your inner voice – the thoughts and feelings running through our minds as we live and process the day. Managing our self-talk is a great tool for improving mental health! 

For some kids, using positive self-talk comes pretty naturally. It’s easy for them to think optimistically and move on when they make mistakes. If you could eavesdrop on someone’s positive inner voice, this type of voice would sound like a good friend: gentle, encouraging, and kind. This voice reminds you that you are smart and capable, that you have faced hard things before and come out on top! 

Other children tend to dwell on the negative or get “stuck” worrying about what could go wrong. If you listened in on this inner voice, it might sound critical or pessimistic. The problem seems too big to solve. This type of voice assumes that things will not go well. This voice amps up our stress and anxiety and makes us feel like giving up.

Positive self-talk increases:

  • self-confidence
  • flexibility
  • problem-solving skills
  • independence 

And can help reduce:

  • self-criticism
  • over-reacting 
  • feeling out of control
  • perfectionism
  • fear of trying new things


The good news is that we can learn new scripts to remind us that things will get better! Try helping your child say these new thoughts out loud. 


Child says: (negative, defeated thought)                                          Try this instead: (rephrasing as positive, productive thoughts) 
I can’t do this! I can’t do it all on my own yet – but I can start with the parts I can do and try my best.
I failed. This is new for me. I am still learning! I can learn from what didn’t work that time and try something new.
I am stuck, and I’ll never get it! I tried on my own first, and now I can ask for help to get me un-stuck!

I can show someone what I tried and ask what I am missing.

I’ll never be able to do it! I can keep trying, and it will get easier when it’s not so new. 
This will never work. What do I need to ask for so I can keep trying?
This is too hard for me! I can take a break and try again later when I feel more patient.
I always do it wrong. Everyone makes mistakes. If I make a mistake, I can learn from it and try something else.
I have never done that before – I don’t like it. It’s okay to feel weird about new things. I can try it just once and then decide how I feel.
I’m terrible at _____. It’s okay not to be good at something right away. I can practice and get better a little at a time!


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