How to Help Your Child Eliminate Negative Thoughts
Like most people, you probably experience negative thoughts, at least now and then. It can be easy to only think of adults when you consider “people” with negative thoughts, but children have them, too.
If you are a parent, you are probably already aware of this. Many parents wish that they knew how to help their children get rid of negative thoughts and emotions, but many adults struggle with this task themselves. As such, many parents wonder what to do.
Help Your Child Identify and Express Feelings
Traditionally, many families used to avoid discussing feelings or emotional concerns. Today, however, there is a new approach to child care. Children are much like adults in the fact that they have the same types of feelings. The thing is, they process those feelings differently from their older counterparts.
Because children often lack the vocabulary and experiences to accurately describe what they are going through, it can be challenging to express themselves. As a result, many children act out when they are under stress. Thoughts often work the same way. When a child has never confronted a problem before, it may cause them to dwell on it or overestimate its importance or risk.
To help your child better express their thoughts and feelings more healthily and positively, work with them to be empathetic and supportive of others. Help them to identify different emotions and talk about common types of challenging life difficulties. Educating your child on these things can make a big difference in the way they think about the world and him or themselves.
Help Your Child Address Negative Self-Talk
Another symptom of negative thoughts that parents sometimes witness from their children is negative self-talk. With this behavior, you might hear your son or daughter say something like, “I cannot do this because I am stupid.” Naturally, this can be extremely difficult to hear. At the same time, it is also important to address these types of behaviors before they can contribute to conditions like childhood anxiety and depression.
To help eliminate these outward expressions of negativity, you first need to understand how to respond to these sorts of things. When your son or daughter says that he or she cannot do something, for example, try to shift her or her focus from what he or she cannot do to what he or she can do. One method that may work is acknowledging your child’s feelings without accepting the words. Say something like, “I know you are frustrated because this task is difficult, but that does not mean you are stupid. Remember how good you are basketball and drawing?”
Another helpful approach centers around vulnerability. Let your child know that you, too, are human, and be open about past failures. It can be beneficial to share examples of times that you have learned from failing in the past and why or how those experiences helped you grow into the person you are today. This gives your child an opportunity to connect with you and learn from your experience as well.
While it can be challenging to hear that your son or daughter is experiencing negative thoughts, the good news is that there are many ways you can help him or her as a parent. With that said, sometimes, children need additional help for more serious mental health concerns when their worries begin interfering with daily activities. When this happens, do not hesitate to reach out for professional assistance. For occasional negative thoughts that most children encounter now and then, you can use this information as a guide to help you respond.