Downloadable Activity: Dewy’s Blissful Mind Broom
Sweep Away Negative Thoughts
Negative thoughts impact our emotions, our behaviors and leave us in a downward spiral, preventing us from making room for productive thinking. As adults, we know how paralyzing it can be to have a mind full of negative thoughts about ourselves, our careers, our relationships, our abilities, and much more. These negative thoughts lead to feelings like anger, sadness, and jealousy. We have strategies, such as talking to a friend or partner, exercising, writing, listening to calming music, reading or listening to positive affirmations, and many more individualized strategies.
Now, let’s think about kids. They don’t yet have many experiences with overcoming negative thoughts, or even how to recognize when they are impacting their emotions and behaviors. For some kids, negative thoughts crop up and are easily swept away by looking at things logically. For other kids, negative thoughts are the result of trauma and stressors. While sweeping away negative thoughts is a strategy, kids with persistent negative thoughts often benefit from one-one intervention, like therapy.
5 tips for helping kids sweep away negative thoughts:
- Reinforce that there is nothing wrong with you if you have negative thoughts and that we all experience situations that leave us feeling angry, sad, or jealous. Approach negative thinking with empathy and compassion, not as dismissive of the impact it could be having on them.
- Give examples of negative thoughts. Don’t assume that all kids know that these are negative, especially if negative thinking is a pattern that hasn’t been explored before.
Examples: “I’m not good enough. I can’t do this.”; “I’m different than everybody and I’ll never make any friends.”; “Why even try? I’ll never be as good as the other kids.”
- Be genuine and authentic in your conversation about negative thoughts. Give a real life example to model for students how you worked through your negative thoughts.
For example: “I was working in my garden and most of my tomato plants wilted. I thought that I was not a good gardener, that I should give up gardening altogether, and that I would never garden again. After I walked away, got a drink of water, and looked at my whole garden, I realized that I did some really great gardening. My cucumber plants were really thriving. I researched how to take care of tomato plants and tried again.
- Have students privately communicate about any negative thoughts they have had or are currently having. This can be through a writing prompt, 1:1 conversation, or a sticky note dropped into the teacher’s mailbox.
- Be explicit about the support system available to the kids if their negative thoughts won’t go away. What if they can’t sweep their negative thoughts away? How and when can they reach out for support? How do they start the conversation? What will the adults do to support them?
Going, going, gone! Get started with this easy-to-use activity to help your kids sweep away negative thoughts.