Of course we are teaching our children about how to be good friends, right? Like when we do the Keys to Friendship or the Kindness Challenge. But are we teaching them to be good friends to themselves?

It may sound silly. But in the same way that adults need to work on positive self-talk, so do children. Children need to know that when they fill their heads with negative thoughts about themselves, it influences them.

Here’s an activity you can do with one child or a group of children to introduce the idea of positive self-talk. Start by making a list of common scenarios, along with a space to write a negative self-talk sentence and a positive one. It will look like this:

Remind the children about good ways to treat our friends. How do we talk to our friends? Would we want to be friends with someone who always said or did negative things? Then explain that sometimes we say things to ourselves that can hurt just as much.

Explain that self-talk is the voice inside our head – it’s what we tell ourselves. We can tell ourselves positive things like, “I will try!” or negative things like, “I’ll never be able to do that.” Negative self-talk is like hanging out with a friend who is always hurting your feelings. Positive self-talk is like being with a friend who makes you feel good about yourself. The way we talk to ourselves influences the way we feel about ourselves, our behaviors and how we treat ourselves and each other.

Have kids go back to the chart and fill in all of the scenarios with a positive self-talk sentence. What could you say to yourself that would make you feel better instead of worse? What would you tell a friend?

It may take some practice, but with everything, the more we try, the better they’ll be able to shift their thinking when they fall into negative self-talk.

Additional activity: Kindness Calendar

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