“I’LL NEVER BE ABLE TO …”

                                                                 “I ALWAYS MESS UP …”

These self talk messages are common among all of us.  And they are dangerous.  They are self-limiting and destroy self-esteem.  Being aware that we are saying these things … to our self and others … is the first step in stopping negative thinking.

In reading “Giraffes Can’t Dance”, by Giles Andreae (this month’s featured author for the Virtual Book Club for Kids), I realized that the book would be an excellent way to discuss the power of negative self-talk and how to stop negative thinking.  The giraffe in the book really wants to dance … but the animals tell him he can’t dance.  And, he believes them.  That is until a tiny friend challenges that thought.

The message is wonderful to talk about with children (at home, at school, or in therapy!).  How saying someone can’t do something can be really hurtful … and how telling your self you can’t accomplish something can stop you from the possibility of even trying!  When reading the book, ask your kids how they think the other animals are feeling.  Also, ask them what may have happened if …

  • The animals told Gerald the Giraffe to try from the beginning?
  • Gerald didn’t believe the animals when they said he can’t dance?
  • The cricket didn’t encourage Gerald?

After reading the story ask them if they’ve ever been told they can’t do something.  You may need to discuss the difference of setting rules or limits … and being told one lacks the ability to do something.  Once they can understand the distinction question your kids if they have things they believe they can’t do.  Discuss the importance of what messages we give to others … and ourselves.

THEN, challenge each other to watch out for each other’s negative self talk!  If someone hears another make a self disparaging comments, respond by …

  • Asking why they think that way
  • Encouraging them to give it a try
  • Help them practice
  • Give them a hug

This can be a great challenge for the whole family … or within a class.  For adults and children alike!

I happened to also find this great post on Counselor. Student. Dancer. Artist. with some more great therapeutic activities to go along with the book.  I’m definitely adding them to my Play Therapy Toolbox!


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