Most of us are pretty good at negative self-talk. We can beat ourselves up like nobody else, and say things to our selves (inside our heads) that we would never say to anyone else. Our kids tend to be pretty skilled at negative self-talk, too. Years of “falling short” and disappointing their parents and teachers can lead to a pretty negative self-image.
But you can improve your child’s attention by teaching her to turn her self-talk into something positive and constructive. Sometimes that means helping her become her own cheerleader, and teaching her how to encourage herself with simple statements like, “you can do it, Haley” or “just one more spelling word and you’ll be done!”
Other times, you can use self-talk as a tool for aiding the working memory. For example, if you send your son up to his room to get a pair of socks, he’s likely to return with a balloon or sword. But if you teach him to march to his room chanting, “sock, sock, sock, sock…” he is much more likely to remember why he went to his room in the first place.
As children get older, this strategy can be incredibly helpful. The process of verbalizing something — saying it out loud –enhances the memory. Saying “tonight I have math homework” out loud can help a teenager remember to take home the right book and notebook at the end of the day when he gets to his locker.