Thursday, April 24, 2014

Positive Self-Talking to Help Children Cope with Angry Thoughts and Feelings

School staff and caregivers can help children understand how their internal self-talking or private speech influences the way they feel and behave. Knowing and reciting positive and optimistic self-statements help children feel happier and display improved self-control. Anger-prone, distraught, and/or impulsive children can be trained in monitoring their private speech and thoughts. Once the child recognizes the body (e.g. muscle tension and sweating), thoughts (e.g. “I hate Mr. Evans!”), and action (e.g. cursing and kicking) signals that cue an agitated state of mind, he can interrupt himself before acting aggressively and/or impulsively, and then the child self-corrects to calmer behavior and thoughts using his customized self-dialogue. Anger-prone and/or impulsive children can use specific self-statements or self-instructions to stop their habitual ways of thinking and to direct more positive responses. Self-coping statements to guide children in (a) handling anger triggers, (b) dealing with provocations, (c) coping with angry feelings, (d) evaluating the coping effort, and finally (e) rewarding themselves for success are:
Handling Anger Triggers
·        I just made a mistake. Big deal. It is not the end of the world.
·        Making a mistake is not so bad.
·        This is upsetting, but I can handle it.
·        I can handle this.
·        Take it easy. Don’t overreact.
·        This is not the end of the world.
·        Don’t blow this out of proportion.
·        If the teacher calls my attention, is okay. The teacher is right in telling me what I did wrong.
·        If the teacher marked some of my answers wrong, it’s okay. The teacher is right in showing me what I did wrong.
·        Don’t blow this out of proportion. Just think about the answers you got right.
·        I know how to control my anger.
·        I know what to do if I get upset.
·        Stop! Figure out what I have to do here… Okay, this is my plan…
·        Relax. Take a deep breath… Okay, this is my plan…
·        Count to ten…1…2…3… What is my plan?
·        I will try my best.
·        It will be nice if I win, but if I don’t, it will still be okay.
·        I have a choice here. I don’t need to blow.
Dealing with Provocations
·        Keep calm.
·        Stop! Stay calm.
·        I can handle this.
·        Take it easy.
·        Stay cool.
·        Chill out.
·        Take some deep breath.
·        Count to ten.
·        Just relax.
·        Everything is fine.
·        I’m going to be okay.
·        I can take this. I’m getting stronger.
·        This is hard but I can stand it.
·        As long as I keep cool, I’m in control.
·        I control my temper.
·        I’m okay. Nothing will happen.
·        I can get over this just fine.
·        I have a choice here. I don’t need to fight.
·        I don’t need to prove myself.
·        Don’t let him bug me.
·        I will not let him get to me.
·        I will not let this situation get to me.
·        I will not react to _____, because Ricky wants me to act out and get in trouble.
·        I will ignore him and then feel good about myself.
·        Think! Don’t jump to conclusions.
·        Don’t blow things out of proportion.
·        Stick with the plan.
·        It is silly to get angry about this.
·        This is not really upsetting. It is not worth getting angry.
·        He is just trying to make me angry by calling me names. I don’t need to react.
·        Well, names cannot really hurt me. I will just ignore her.
·        My mother is not what they say. She is really nice.
·        He is just mean. I feel sorry for him.
·        Okay, this is not the end of the world, just a problem to solve. Getting mad will not help. What is my plan?
Coping with Angry Feelings
·        Talk, don’t hit.
·        Stop and think before you hit.
·        Stop and think before you act.
·        Count to ten.
·        Try to keep cool.
·        I’m going to be okay.
·        Relax.
·        I’m going to cool down.
·        Slow down.
·        Chill out.
·        I’m beginning to breathe hard… Relax.
·        I’m getting tense. Relax!
·        My muscles are starting to tense. Slow things down.
·        My fists are tight… I need to relax… That’s it. I will not hit her even if I’m angry.
·        Take some deep breath. Getting upset will not help.
·        I’m really started to get pissed now. What can I do? Okay, I just keep talking to myself until I calm down.
·        Stop and think about all the good things I did today.
·        I’m angry. This is a signal of what I need to do.
·        I’m going to step back and calm down before I react.
·        Time to talk to myself… Talk calmly… Use normal voice… Speak slowly. I can be angry; this is a normal feeling. I’m a good child even when I feel angry.
·        Maybe we are both right.
·        I cannot expect people to act the way I want them to act.
Evaluating the Coping Effort
(When the conflict is resolved)
·        I did a good job.
·        Nice job.
·        Good job.
·        I really kept my cool.
Evaluating the Coping Effort
(When the conflict is not resolved)
·        Forget about it.
·        Shake it off.
·        I tried my best.
·        I did the best I could.
·        I did my part. If he’s still angry, that’s his problem.
·        This is not easy to do, but I will keep trying.
·        Stop thinking about this. Thinking about it just makes me more upset.
·        Okay, this partly worked. I will do better next time.
·        I will get better at this with more practice.
·        I’m getting better at this.
·        Next time, I will tune to my signals.
·        Next time, I will stick to my plan.
Rewarding Themselves for Success
·        I really kept my cool.
·        Good job.
·         Nice job.
·        Way to go!
·        Fantastic!
·        Excellent!
·        I’m doing just great!
·        Nice!
·        Right on!
·        Good thinking.
·        Cool!
·        Neat!

Help anger-prone and distraught children develop awareness of their inner dialogue or self-talking. With the child, identify and list those self-statements that help as well as private speech that is pessimistic and self-defeating. Once we pay attention to and analyze children’s negative and pessimistic self-talking, we can custom tailor positive and optimistic self-statements that will counter balance any negative self-talking found.

Related Reading...
Essentials of Emotional Communication for Reaching the Unreachable Student: Where Do I Start? What Do I Do? How Do I Do It? To preview this book on Amazon, click here.