Parenting Coach

Practical ideas for social, emotional and behavioral challenges

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Listen to what he says to himself.

What you can do

Help your child tune into the running conversation that all people have with themselves as they go about their daily routines. For example, in the morning, many parents may find themselves thinking, “I’m tired. Why didn’t I go to bed earlier? I’m going to be late. Why do I always wait so long to start getting ready? There’s no way I’ll be able to get everything done on time.”

Experts refer to these thoughts, which can be conscious or semi-conscious, as “self-talk.” Self-talk can be a powerful motivator. Try to listen in and validate your child’s feelings. Then work together to come up with a plan to overcome the real or perceived obstacles.

What you can say

“Jacob, I know that getting dressed in the morning is really frustrating you. Let’s see if we can figure out what specifically is tripping you up.”

“I’m going to watch you get dressed. But I want you to pretend I’m not here. Talk to yourself about what you think you’re supposed to do. Sometimes this really helps and will give us a good idea about how to make this easier for you.”

Why this will help

Negative self-talk is often a big factor in deciding whether to give up on a task. On the flip side, positive self-talk can be used to combat self-doubt and other demoralizing thoughts. When children learn to recognize such thoughts, they can change their inner dialogue. That, in turn, can change the way they approach new tasks.

You can also help your child by suggesting phrases he can repeat when faced with stressful situations. The more confident your child feels, the more willing he’ll be to take on new challenges and express what he needs to complete them successfully.

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