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Learning Goal

Students will acknowledge their inner critic and utilize two techniques to
manage it.

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Learning Objectives

By the end of the lessons, students will be able to:

  • Understand and name their inner critic
  • Utilize tools to replace negative self-talk with positive thoughts
Learning Summary

Research suggests that it takes five positive interactions to make up for a single negative interaction in a relationship; the same is true of self- talk. This means we need a conscious, active process of positive self-talk in order to make up for our brains’ negative wiring. This lesson helps your students discover and practice positive self-talk.

This lesson begins with a mindful moment in which students learn a new breathing technique called the 3-3-4 breath. You then lead a discussion on self-talk and how we each have our own inner critic. Students name and draw their own inner critic. Then, you introduce students to different ways we can use positive messages to
balance out our inner critic’s messages through an activity that teaches students our negative thoughts are often more sticky. The class discusses ways how we can tame our inner critics and focus on positive messages. Students end by writing a letter to their inner critics in their journals.

computer icon Online Teaching Tips for Self-Talk

Spend time before the lesson prepping the negative messages on a board for your students to see from their screen. For the Draw Your Inner Critic activity, provide students with the worksheet provided in the lesson plan or have students use a blank sheet of paper.

For the Draw Your Inner Critic activity, have students spend a few minutes drawing their critic. Then as a share-out, have interested students hold up their drawings and discuss. 

For the negative messages, ask students to call out positive messages that you will write on sticky notes and post over the negative messages.

For the Draw Your Inner Critic activity, have students spend a few minutes drawing their critic. Then as a share-out, encourage students to share their drawing with a family member and explain their thinking. 

Since the negative message cards part of the activity relies on student participation, prior to the lesson, prepare positive messages for the students on sticky notes that you will post over the negative messages later on. 

CASEL Competencies

Self-awareness: The abilities to understand one’s own emotions, thoughts, and values and how they influence behavior across contexts. This includes capacities to recognize one’s strengths and limitations with a well-grounded sense of confidence and purpose.

Self-management: The abilities to manage one’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors effectively in different situations and to achieve goals and aspirations. This includes the capacities to delay gratification, manage stress, and feel motivation & agency to accomplish personal/collective goals.