Help them tame habit of being too self- critical
YOUR child is trying to do their homework and then you hear: “I’m so dumb!” Your heart cringes and you try to smooth it out with something like: “You’re not dumb” and the retort is “Yes, I am”.
You don’t know what to say and start to worry, does he really think he’s dumb?
It is hard to hear your child be so self- critical with their negative self- talk. Your reaction is to reassure them that they are smart, talented, or wonderful. Unfortunately their words are an indication of what they are feeling inside. So how do you help as a parent?
Firstly, don’t try to tell them the opposite. Because at that moment they are feeling dumb, stupid or useless.
You need to find the underlying feelings you think your child is feeling and validate that. Let them know you understand what they are saying. Try to reword it for them to something more practical rather than a self- criticism.
Perhaps try: “sounds like that homework is hard today”, or “you sound frustrated”, “you find maths tricky at times”. Or you can ask a question such as: “Why is it you are finding your homework hard today?” or “What is it about this that is so frustrating?”
Needing a few other ideas, then you can help your child learn to rephrase what they are thinking. By that I mean flip it around.
So instead of them saying: “I’m useless at homework”, simply say back to them: “this homework is hard tonight” or “making mistakes is part of learning”.
Other examples I use in my work with children are: “just because you think it, doesn’t mean it’s true” or “just because you feel like that, doesn’t mean it’s true”. Help them to think about another time when homework has been tricky and they managed to work it out.
So next time you hear that negative selftalk blurt out, you can try these and see the difference.
These will really help, your child will feel that you understand them and the frustration will fade away. Email questions to aboutababy@ townsvillebulletin. com. au. Nicole Pierotti is a child psychologist who is an expert in helping solve sleep problems. Call 4724 2600 or go to babysmiles. com. au