Grumpy, irritable, moody, pessimistic, cranky, gloomy. Do I have your attention yet? No one likes to think negatively about another person– least of all about our kids– but when it seems like everything your child says is a complaint, frustration, perceived injustice, or air-tight argument why everything is bad and will be forever, frustration abounds and it’s s a lose-lose situation.
In 2008 I wrote Freeing Your Child from Negative Thinking to give parents tools to help their kids learn how to outsmart the negative tricks the mind can play. Fast-forward 10 years and the number of children and teens struggling with negative-thought fueled depression and anxiety is multiplying at an alarming rate. I am embarking on a 2nd edition of Negative Thinking which will be released just in time for the new school year, September 2019. Please email me any requests or thoughts for the second edition– email@example.com. In the meantime, here’s an excerpt of the steps to free your child from negative thinking posted by my good friend, Therese Borchard. As always– here’s to less worry, and less negativity, all around!
Following is the master plan to helping your child resist negative thinking that Dr. Tamar Chansky presents in her book “Freeing Your Child from Negative Thinking.” However, her strategies are just as effective for adults.
Used by permission of Da Capo Lifelong, a member of the Perseus Books Group.
Step One: Empathize with Your Children’s (or your own) Experience
As much as the end result of the master plan is to help your child embrace a different point of view on his situation, your first goal is not to lose your audience by coming on too strong with the agenda of change. Instead, start from where he is: Wheat emotion is he expression? Reflect that with your words or a hug, a gesture. Squatting may be all it takes. Thoroughly accepting how he feels doesn’t mean that you agree with him or see the situation the same way, but it does release him from having to show you how bad he feels. So when your child says, “I feel like I’m in jail,” resist the urge to say in so many words, “Are you crazy?” Don’t try to steer him off his course. Go in the direction of his swerve, and you will be able to direct him back to himself. The key is to normalize his experience without minimizing it. If you’re too cheerful, he has no choice but to be grumpy to get his point across. As the popular bumper sticker says, “If you are not outraged, you are not paying attention.” Introduce the idea of choice: “Your thoughts are making you feel really bad. I wonder if there is something different we could do.” You don’t want to oppressively correct your child or go in with the right answer. Your child will feel bad for feeling the wrong answer so deeply.
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