Teach Children to Regulate their Self-Talk

It's important to teach children to regulate their self-talk because it will ensure they're always reminded how valuable they are.
Teach Children to Regulate their Self-Talk
Elena Sanz Martín

Written and verified by the psychologist Elena Sanz Martín.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

One of the most important tasks when it comes to raising a child is teaching them to manage their emotions and their inner world. This can seem like a complex task because feelings are abstract and subjective. We can’t see or touch those feelings, which is why it’s difficult to learn to relate to them. That’s why we need to teach children to regulate their self-talk.

When we’re little, we’re like a blank slate. We’re totally permeable to the information we receive from the people in our lives. Therefore, we need to take the opportunity to lay the foundations for children that will help them throughout their lives.

If we can internalize some basic attitudes, we’ll help pave the way to a happy life. Self-talk is, without a doubt, one of the most important tools.

What is self-talk?

Most of the time, our mind is thinking about what we do, what we did or what we will do in the future. These thoughts are made up of our words. Our language shapes our thoughts; that’s why we can say that we’re continually having dialogue with ourselves in our heads. 

Generally, we’re so used to this self-talk that it goes unnoticed. We’re not fully aware of what we’re telling ourselves. However, unfortunately, our self-talk is often full of negative messages.

Teach Children to Regulate their Self-Talk

We use our internal dialogue to criticize, judge and emphasize our failures.Look how bad I parked” or “I must have looked so awkward and nervous during the job interview” or “I shouldn’t have eaten so much, I’m so fat.”

The same thing can happen to children. Without realizing it, they may get in the habit of talking to themselves in cruel and hurtful ways. For example, “I made a fool of myself when I went up to the board in class” or “I’m clumsy and bad at sports” or “what a bad drawing” or “I have such ugly hair.”

All these messages in their head start showing up automatically and will end up damaging their self-esteem. Imagine how you’d feel if you had someone chasing you and making mean comments all the time. That’s what happens when you don’t teach children to regulate their self-talk. 

Teach children to regulate their self-talk

However, this dialogue isn’t inherently negative. If you can regulate it properly, it can become your best ally. Therefore, you should help your child get used to speaking to themselves positively. That way, you can always ensure there’s someone by their side telling them how valuable, important, strong and intelligent they are. And, that person will be themselves.

To do this, the best thing to do is always address your child in a loving, respectful and compassionate way. That’s because the way you speak to your child will shape the way they speak to themselves. Your words will be the example for their own dialogue.

However, it’s also important to teach children to detect these automatic thoughts and change them into positive ones. To do this, explain to them in a simple way what self-talk is. Tell them what that little voice in their head is, and how it’s always going to be with them. 

Teach Children to Regulate their Self-Talk

You can show them some examples of self-talk and ask them to write in a notebook when they’re aware of that little voice. For example, maybe they look in the mirror wearing a new shirt and think: “look how well this fits me” or “that’s a cool shirt.” These are simple examples of positive self-talk.

Next, explain how important it is for that voice to say nice, loving things. Let them know they can use it to cheer themselves up when they’re scared or nervous. Also, they can use it to congratulate themselves when they’re successful. In addition, they can use it to remind themselves at any time that they’re a fun, brave and loving child. 

A natural habit

Try to make it into a game, so that it naturally becomes a habit. To do this, it may be helpful to repeat some positive affirmations before your child goes to sleep or when they get up. That way, those affirmations will be engraved in their mind and will become part of their dialogue. 

Your child will spend their whole life with themselves. Therefore, helping their mind become a place of peace and self-love will be a magnificent gift for them. Their thoughts should be their allies and not their enemies.

Teach children to regulate their self-talk from a young age. This will allow them to manage their emotions in a much healthier way and, without a doubt, will help them be happier.


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This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.