Negative Thinking Mistakes
There are a range of different negative thinking mistakes that we regularly make and these can lead to automatic thoughts. An automatic thought is one that pops into your head without thinking on a regular basis. For example, “I’m rubbish”, or, “I always get it wrong”.
If you can help your child to identify what their thinking mistakes are it will help you and your child to spot the triggers that lead to negative self-talk.
These are some of the more common negative thinking mistakes:
All Or Nothing
You see things in extreme or in black and white, for example, “If I don’t get this perfect, then I’m a failure”
One negative thing happens and this is seen as proof that other negative things will happen, e.g. “Jim hit me and said he didn’t like me… no-one will like me”
Labelling and Mislabelling
This is an extreme form of generalising, with the child labelling themselves as “A loser” or labelling others, “He’s rubbish”
Focusing on one negative details and then seeing the whole experience as negative and dwelling on it. Refusing to notice any positives or anything that went well
Disqualifying The Positive
Rejecting positive experiences by insisting they ‘don’t count’
Jumping To Conclusions
Expecting things to go wrong even when there’s no evidence for this
Assuming other children don’t like them or are saying negative things about them without really knowing
Anticipating things will go badly or wrong, predicting things will turn out bad
Making the problems and difficulties bigger than they are, exaggerating the negative things and shrinking the positives
Believing All Feelings Are True
Just because you feel a feeling doesn’t mean its true, e.g. “I feel like I’ll be rubbish at this… therefore I am a failure”
Shoulds And Musts
Setting standards that are too high to be reached
Taking Things Personally
Seeing themselves as the cause of things that go wrong even if its nothing to do with them
Things To Do
The first thing is to learn to recognise your own thinking errors. Be kind to yourself. We all have them.
Once you have started to do this, you can help your child by modelling how you deal with these errors. Demonstrate to them how you recognise them and then challenge yourself in a positive and compassionate way.
“Hang on there, I was being very negative there and catastrophising. Maybe things aren’t so bad. After all, look at these positive things”
That way, your child will learn that it’s normal to experience these errors, and see there are ways to stop them.
You could also use our Negative Thinking Cards (coming very soon) to help your child identify their negative thinking mistakes.