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Automatic Negative Thoughts: How to Calm the Storm Within

Lesson created by Karen Goepen-Wee using

Video from watchwellcast YouTube Channel

Let’s Begin…

Has it ever happened to you? One minute your child is fine, and then, something happens. The next minute, a million thoughts swirl through their mind; none of them positive. What happens to a child when these "Automatic Negative Thoughts" take over their logical brain? What can one do to help a child successfully manage and prevent such thoughts from intruding into their day-to-day life? 

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Additional Resources for you to Explore


Often, automatic negative thoughts come from situations that create anxiety. A student might not understand that it is normal to feel anxious. This video by GoZen might help parents and educators help their child understand anxiety more clearly: No Need to Worry About Worrying


What stresses out kids? What do they want from the adults in their lives when they are stressed?  Check out this infographic courtesy of GoZen.


Here is a simple worksheet that you can give to a student to help them work through automatic negative thoughts. When a student can re-frame their fears, then they are able to begin to implement strategies that work for them. 

Need some help on how to help a child stop their automatic negative thoughts? This article from the Huffington Post provides some basic strategies. 

The practice of Mindfulness has positive effects upon a child's ability to manage their automatic negative thoughts. This article from Hey Sigmund explains how and why.

There are a number of mindfulness apps that are kid-friendly. Check out this list from Understood.
How might parents and educators guide conversations that are supportive for students who are anxious or struggle with automatic negative thoughts?  

One way is to re-frame how you conduct a conversation with a child dealing with a negative situation. An article rich in suggestions is How to respond to your child's negative self-talk by Nicole Schwartz of imperfectfamilies.com

Another way to help a student or child with automatic negative thoughts is to better understand the psychology of a child. To that end, Daniel J. Siegel's The Whole-Brain Child is an excellent resource.  

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