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negative self-talk Amplified

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Perspective | Criticizing yourself isn’t helping

Tips from Parent Trust: Parents, be kind to yourselves.

Self-talk: Guess who criticizes you the most every day? You do! Many parents literally make hundreds of nasty comments to themselves every day.

One parent kept track of her negative self-comments just for one Saturday. When she had counted over 100 negative comments by noon she gave up counting — it was too depressing!

Negative self-talk is poison.

Negative self-talk comes in all shapes and sizes. Here are a few examples:

  • “I should be a better person.”
  • “I am a rotten mother.”
  • “Everybody knows how to handle their children better than me.”
  • “I should be nicer to my kids.”
  • “I never say the right thing to my daughter.”
  • “My kids like their mother better than me.”
  • “I should spend more time with my kids.”
  • “I should know exactly what to do in this situation.”
  • The list goes on and on.

Write down some examples of how you talk negatively to yourself.

  1. Make or buy a bunch of colored dots.
  2. Put them everywhere. In your kitchen, on the mirrors, in the car, on door knobs, on your computer, on your watch, in your wallet, on your toothbrush.
  3. Every time you see a dot ask yourself, “How am I talking to myself right now?” AWARENESS IS THE KEY!

The dot trick: Stamping out negative self-talk

The trick to decreasing negative self-talk is listening to yourself. The following idea has been used by teachers, doctors, therapists and psychologists to increase self-esteem.

You can read the tip sheet called Positive Self Talk >> to find about how to replace negative self-talk with (you guessed it!) positive self-talk.

But first, you have to be aware of what you say to yourself every day. If you look at the dot and find that you are in the middle of negative self-talk, make the following statement to yourself:

“Stop! I want to be kind to me!”

Write down ideas for how you will use this technique.

Daily reminder

Negative self-talk is a waste of time and energy and words!
Be kind to yourself. Just say NO to the poison of criticizing yourself.

© Parent Trust for Washington Children; reprinted with permission from Parent Trust.

You can see Be Kind To Yourself: Decrease Negative Self Talk and other parenting advice at

Editor’s note: Publication of an opinion piece does not mean Seattle’s Child or its staff endorses the views of the author.

More in Amplified:

Perspective | Stay positive! 3 tips to avoid power struggles with kids

Opinion | A great way to understand how kids’ brains work

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About the Author

Parent Trust

Parent Trust ( is a statewide nonprofit dedicated to supporting parents. You can call its Family Help Line for parenting tips, advice on stress management and any kind of parenting challenge: 1-800-932-4673.