The way that we talk to ourselves has a direct effect on the way that we think, perceive and therefore behave. Can you think of a time when you have “gotten out of the wrong side of the bed ?” Maybe you woke up, stubbed your toe, got toothpaste on your shirt, spilled milk on the bench and the day just kept getting worse and worse and worse! Can you remember your inner dialogue? It might have gone something like this “Arr, the alarm, I’m tired, I don’t want to get up”… “Ouch, who put that silly chair there? What a terrible start to the day! Why did I have to do that?”… “Arrrhhh, I can’t believe I tipped that milk over, what a horrible day this is turning out to be!” It always seems to be the way, if you think negatively… bad things happen.
Do you know anyone who is always smiling, happy and nothing is ever a problem for them? These types of people have a little secret that keeps them happy and smiling. They THINK POSITIVELY. A positive person sees the glass as half full. If something bad happens, they speak to themselves positively about it. When the alarm goes off they might be tired but their minds are programmed to find a positive “Oh is that the alarm, I’m tired but am looking forward to…… today.” To train the mind it is a good idea to run through a list of things you are happy about/grateful for each day, if you are having a hard time and can’t think of anything start with the little things, like thanking your lungs for breathing and your heart for beating- these are miracles that happen every day! GRATITUDE is another different strategy you can use in class, be grateful for simple things achieved in a day, health, good friends, food etc.
Kids can be affected by negative thinking too. A child who thinks they are bad at maths undoubtedly WILL BE bad at maths. One who thinks they can’t ride a bike will fall off. As a teacher I, have seen this in loads of children. The great news is that this can be turned around with a couple of “teacher tricks”, it might take a while but it does work.
Trick 1… REPHRASE
In Rainbow Calm classes “I can’t do that, I am bad at maths” gets met with an immediate request to rephrase! “Oh no” I say “We don’t say things like that here, ‘I am good at maths’, now you say it”. This needs to happen continuously, along with constant reminders, “I can’t do it” gets rephrased to “I can do it, I just need to try.” Kids with negative thought patterns and limited self belief need constant reminders to rephrase, so be on their case and make sure that they know YOU believe it, even if at first they don’t themselves!
Trick 2… PRAISE
Make sure that every time children succeed, especially when they thought they couldn’t, you are there to acknowledge it. You don’t need to make a big fuss, sometimes a subtle wink and a big smile does the trick.
Trick 3… USE YOUR “TEAM”
Get the rest of the class involved. Say to them “Kids (Team) I need your help! BRETT needs your help, he thinks he is bad at……. but we know that if he tries he can do it. If you hear Brett saying ‘I can’t…’ help me by telling him he can and maybe helping him out”. Make sure they know that helping doesn’t mean doing the work for him or letting him copy, that it means explaining and supporting. Kids love this kind of responsibility and after a while you will find that they do it automatically and come and tell you when Brett has done something that he should be proud of. With this kind of support, kids can’t help but improve!
Trick 4 AFFIRMATIONS
Successful people use affirmations. They don’t waste time with self doubt. You can help your whole class get used to saying positive affirmations by having a daily/weekly /monthly affirmation displayed in the class. Pop it up on the whiteboard and remind them to say it at least 3-5 times each day, after class roll, before lunch and at home time is a good start. Here are a few examples to get you started
• I am happy
• I achieve my goals
• I am kind to myself and others
• I make friends easily
• My teacher thinks I’m GREAT!
For more information on using affirmations in the classroom see CALM CLASSROOM resource books. There is an extensive list of affirmations and information about creating your own classroom affirmations! RAINBOW SLEEP TIGHT CD also has a lovely meditation based on affirmations that can be used to help kids with SELF ESTEEM/self doubt/negative mind set issues.