Who among us has not experienced that pessimistic nagging inner voice that tells us something is simply too hard. Or, better yet, the task you’re trying to complete is too boring to hold your focus for as long as it needs. Some advice intended to help kids overcome obstacles and stay on task may be the solution we’ve all been looking for.
A video posted to Greater Good Magazine’s website suggests how to help children become their own motivators — by teaching them to give themselves a pep talk in the second person:
Research shows that kids who can imagine and talk to themselves as a character or favourite superhero (who is) working hard persevere more than kids who focus on themselves. By doing this, they are better able to focus on their goals, resist immediate temptations, and cope with negative emotions. And kids who are able to practice self control also feel better about themselves, have stronger relationships and do better in school.
I’m not sure you have to actually embody your favourite character or superhero (although kudos for going the extra mile if you do). But the act of talking to yourself like the competent person you are can help morph your self-doubt and lack of focus into confidence and determination.
“I will never meet that deadline,” becomes “You’re always meeting deadlines.”
“I don’t have time for this,” becomes “You can figure out how to fit this in because you are efficient.”
“I am totally going to fall on my face on stage”? No! “You will give the best speech of your life.”
Greater Good says that taking an outsider’s perspective — or “self-distancing” — can help kids become better equipped to face challenges:
Older kids who practice self-talk and refer to themselves in the third person with their own name or as “you” instead of “I” or “me” better handle how they think, feel and behave under stress.
And hey, if they can do it, you can do it. (I’m talking to myself, but I believe in all of you, too.)