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Learning Goal

Students will understand the importance of positive self-talk and thought
distortions that impact their thinking.

Learning Objectives

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

  • Explain what self-talk is and understand their inner critics
  • Understand various thought distortions
  • Come up with effective ways to move past negative thinking patterns
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.

We start with a mindfulness activity in which students notice their breath through counting and holding their breath. You then lead a conversation on how we talk to ourselves, focusing on negative thoughts and experiences versus the positives leading to thought distortions. Students learn four types of thought distortions reflecting on their own experiences of each. As a class, come up with solutions to the negative thoughts. You then read a list of statements and students decide which thought distortion the statement is. In groups, students then create short skits where they act out one of the thought distortions as well as showing a solution. Students end by reflecting on five positive affirmations to remember.

computer icon Online Teaching Tips for Self-Talk

For either online or recorded delivery, using the slide deck will be very useful. The various thought distortions are explained one-by-one with age-appropriate examples. 

For the thought distortions scenarios, have students write down each of the thought distortions on seperate pieces of paper or notecards. Have students turn on their video cameras. After you read a scenario they hold up the card for the thought distortion they feel fits the situation.

For the thought distortion scenario, provide appropriate wait time for students to consider each scenario before providing the correct answer through the slide.

CASEL Competencies

Self-awareness: The ability to accurately recognize one’s own emotions, thoughts, and values and how they influence behavior. The ability to accurately assess one’s strengths and limitations, with a well-grounded sense of confidence, optimism, and a "growth mindset."

Self-management: The ability to successfully regulate one’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in different situations — effectively managing stress, controlling impulses, and motivating oneself. The ability to set and work toward personal and academic goals.