Step 4 – Mindful Reflection

Psychology Fun Facts

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  • The mid-childhood years are an important time for children to learn about and reflect on their own qualities and to find words to describe themselves that are accurate and positive.  The skill used to identify an accurate self-image is called mindful reflection.

  • When building a positive sense of self, it is important we focus on behaviours rather than words that other people use to describe character. If a child struggles with a task, do they describe their behaviour as ‘I can’t do it’ or, do they describe themselves to their character, saying things like ‘I am hopeless’. Children can be very hard on themselves.

    Our children’s sense of self benefits from their parents helping them attribute things they struggle with to things that are ‘not yet learned’ rather than to a lack of ability. Mindful reflection can be used to help children to maintain a mindset which focusses on what they think rather than what other people tell them is correct.

Activity Time

In this strategy, you are going to teach your child how to mindfully reflect on other people’s negative comments that have been said to them or in front of them. You will help your child choose whether to accept it as true or not. This is about you working with your child by gently nudging them to a different point of view with a more positive slant.

You are going to focus on some of the negative things that get said to your child and work with them to teach them resilience skills.

This strategy only takes a few minutes a day and you will both build a habit of focusing on your child’s strengths.

  • Step 1: Getting started

    Start by finding a time to talk to your child about their day. 5-10 minutes is all that it takes. Be aware of any negatives of the day that they want to raise.

    Ask them questions about what happened and just listen without offering solutions or trying to solve the problem.

  • Step 2: Start with the positives

    Start with the positives to get them talking by asking what went well in their day. Helping your child focus on positives in their day builds their positive self-talk.

  • Step 3: Challenge the negatives

    Move on to finding out about any negative opinions they have mentioned of themselves or negative things said to them.

    Using the table provided, note down the negative comment that was said to your child, did your child see it positively or negatively?

    Start to think of ways that you could reframe these with your child to highlight a positive way to cope with the challenges.

    We’ve given you a few examples to get you started.

    Negative CommentNegative way to interpret commentPositive way to interpret comment
    Another child in the playground says to your child “I think your trainers look silly on you.”I look silly in my trainers, I don’t want to wear them again.I like my trainers even if another person doesn’t.
    Your son says to your daughter, “You’re no good at football.”He’s right, I’m no good at football. I’ll stop playing.I really like playing football and I like practicing. My brother is better than me because he’s older.
    Teacher tells you at parents evening, in front of your child “He’s very quiet in class.”I’m a quiet person and it’s not good to be quiet.I’m quiet in the classroom as I enjoy school and like listening to my teacher.

WeParent Top Tip

If your child hasn’t taken the comment to heart, that’s great. Follow their lead and help them challenge the things that they think were negatives, not what you think were meant as negatives.

  • Step 4: Building resilience

    Keep on with your short chats at the end of each day and keep listening out for any negatives they bring up.

    Keep helping your child to reframe any negative comments they hear about themselves into a positive as they learn this skill.

    Over time you will notice they report less negatives about their day and become less critical of themselves. This is a great sign and shows they are doing well and heading towards a healthy and positive sense of self.

    This is going to take time and practice, so stick with it and it will soon become second nature.

WeParent Top Tip

A great way to explain mindful reflection to your child is to use an example like food.

You put nice things on your child’s plate and they choose to eat them. If someone puts something they don’t like on their plate they wouldn’t choose to eat it, knowing they can discard of it.

Ultimately, your child has the ability to decide if negative comments are like the food they like or the food they don’t like. Should they swallow them, or throw them away.

Review Time

Where to next?

Now that you have completed this strategy, WeParent recommends having a look at our other strategies to continue helping your child develop a positive sense of self. So, head back to our Categories Pageand choose from the other strategies available in our Positive Sense of Self Module.

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