CHALLENGE NEGATIVE THINKING SKILLS TABLE OF CONTENTS

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1 CHALLENGE NEGATIVE THINKING SKILLS TABLE OF CONTENTS 1. CATCH AND RELEASE 2. Thinking about your thinking be aware of self talk 3. Self Talk (2 nd Step) 4. Difference between facts and beliefs 5. Rational vs. Irrational 6. ABC Method 7. Ask Questions to challenge your negative thinking 8. Challenge Irrational Beliefs 9. Practicing the ABC Method 10. Who s responsible for your feelings 11. It Always 12. Chain Reactions 13. Rose Colored Glasses 14. Shoulds

2 CATCH AND RELEASE 1. Remember negative thoughts are destructive. Thoughts have a big impact on how you feel 2. Catch or notice your negative thinking Accept your negative thoughts, its okay to have them. 3. Release or let go of your negative thoughts. * borrowed from What About the Big Stuff, by Richard Carlson, Ph.D.

3 THINKING ABOUT YOUR THINKING BE AWARE OF YOUR INTERNAL DIALOGUE/SELF TALK When problems happen, like getting into a fight with a friend or getting punished at home, we all talk to ourselves about what just happened. We think about it inside our head and since it is inside our head, no one else can hear the things we say to ourselves. Everybody does this, kids and adults, and it is totally normal. A lot of the time, we may not even really notice what we are thinking when a problem happens. Its just like a voice inside our head turns on automatically. Imagine that your teacher blamed you for something you didn t do. You might say to yourself, why is she picking on me? She s always blaming me for things I didn t do. She must really hate me. A little while ago, I had trouble finding this book. I was thinking, Great. I wanted to do the ABCs with you and I ve already lost my materials. Now I m not going to be able to remember everything I wanted to tell you TALKING TO YOURSELF IS COMPLETELY NORMAL, EVERYONE DOES IT. Skill sheet from friendship group with Mark Lane, LCSW-R Borrowed from The Optimistic Child by Martin Seligman, Ph.D.

4 SELF TALK Talking to youself can help you to calm down when you are angry. Self talk is anything you say to yourself to help you not feel angry. Athletes use self talk to help them concentrate on their sport. They say things like Aim Straight ; Keep my eyes on the ball ; I can do it ; etc. What are some things you can say to yourself to help you calm down? Some examples could include slow down stop and think ; calm down I can handle this ; it s okay, just let it go. After you calm down, the next step is to think about how to solve the problem that caused you to be angry. TRANSFER OF LEARNING: Encourage your child to use self-talk when they are visibly angry and when anticipating a conflict. Self-

5 talk is also useful when preparing for a test or performance. * borrowed from Second Step

6 CHALLENGE NEGATIVE THINKING THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FACTS AND BELIEFS Knowing the difference between a fact and a belief will help you to be more optimistic and challenge negative thinking. A fact is something that can be proven, such as the sun is shining today. A belief is an idea or opinion about something, such as the sunshine is too hot. Facts can be proven. Sometimes it can be difficult to determine the difference between facts and beliefs. It is often our beliefs about facts that create problems among people. For example, do all people think the same thing about the fact that New York has two Major League Baseball Teams? Some people may believe the Yankees are good and some may believe they are NOT good. TRANSFER OF LEARNING: Ask you child facts about themselves (e.g. they might play sport, do musical instrument, ride bike, etc.) and what they believe about how they do at their interest (e.g. I play tennis well). Inquire about whether day to day issues which arise are facts or beliefs. Acknowledge negative beliefs ( I m a failure, I should have tried harder, Its not fair, the coaches were biased, etc.), tell them its okay to have negative thoughts and its okay to challenge them. Ask your child how strongly, on a scale of they belief their negative thought. Reinforce, not all of our thoughts are 100% accurate. Skill sheet from friendship group with Mark Lane, LCSW-R Borrowed from The Optimistic Child by Martin Seligman, Ph.D. Borrowed from Thinking, Feeling, Behaving: An Emotional Education Curriculum for Children, by Ann Vernon

7 RATIONAL VS. IRRATIONAL How we think greatly affects how we feel and act. Sometimes our thinking makes sense (rational) and helps, sometimes our thinking makes us feel worse or does NOT make sense (Irrational). Thoughts and beliefs don t make sense when they are (a) overly demanding ( should ), (b) absolute ( can t or must ) or (c) overgeneralize ( always or never ). For example, although it would be preferable for people to be nice to us most of the time, it is impossible for all people to be nice to us all the time. Understanding the difference between rational and irrational thinking will help you stay positive and deal with challenges. TRANSFER OF LEARNING: Help your child think about their thinking. Talk about your own thoughts and times you make have had irrational thoughts (nevers, shoulds, always, jumping to conclusions, etc.). When your child describes and upset, ask, what did you think about that?. Explain the difference between thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Ask, is there another way to think about (the event)?. Skill sheet from friendship group with Mark Lane, LCSW-R Borrowed from Thinking, Feeling, Behaving: An Emotional Education Curriculum for Children, by Ann Vernon

8 ASK QUESTIONS TO CHALLENGE YOUR NEGATIVE THOUGHTS Skill #9 THE ABC METHOD Based on the work of Albert Ellis, Ph.D., it is suggested that emotional problems result from the way we think about events rather than from the events themselves. Thoughts and beliefs can create positive feelings. The ABC method provides a framework to manage and work through upsetting feelings while helping one to maintain a positive outlook. A > B > C > D > E Activating Event > thoughts/beliefs > feelings/actions > Dispute > Goal The following questions can assist in evaluating your thoughts and beliefs: A. What happened? (A or the activating event) B. What are your thoughts about what happened? (B or thoughts and beliefs) C. What are your feelings and actions? (C or the consequential feelings and actions) D. Challenge your negative thoughts and belief. 3 major irrational beliefs have been identified 1. WORTHLESS: I am worthless if I don t do as well and win as much approval as I must 2. AWFULIZING: It s awful, terrible that I am NOT doing as I must 3. I can t-stand-it-itis : I can t stand to bear the things that are happening to me that MUST not happen. E. Set a goal and make plan... TRANSFER OF LEARNING: When upset, encourage your child to take time away to calm down. When reflecting back on upsets, use active listening, acknowledge and accept all thoughts and feelings, then encourage your child to (a) notice their positive thinking and (b) challenge their negative thinking by using the ABC. Model this skill by discussing how you can think more positively about upsets. Skill sheet from friendship skills group with Mark Lane, LCSW-R Borrow from Thinking, Feeling, Behaving: An Emotional Education Curriculum for Adolescents. Grades 7-12, by Ann Vernon.

9 Ask questions to challenge your negative thinking (skill #9) Challenging your negative thoughts (e.g. it s unfair, I can t, it should be that way, its going to been really awful, that jerk ) is very useful in dealing with upsetting situations. Remember, thoughts and beliefs affect how we feel. The following steps can help you learn to challenge your negative thinking: 1. What happened? 2. What are your thoughts about what happened? 3. What are your feelings and actions? 4. Challenge your negative thoughts? a. Does this thought make sense? b. Is there a more helpful way to think about this? c. What are the chances that this (fear) will happen? d. It would be nice if it didn t have to be that way, but is that realistic? 5. Set a goal and make a plan. TRANSFER OF LEARNING: When upset, encourage your child to take time to calm down. Don t try to solve the problem until all parties are calm. Discuss the situation acknowledging thoughts and feelings while also trying to open up new possibilities and ways to think about the upsetting situation. Encourage your child to challenge negative thinking by asking, is there another way to think about this?. Model this skill by (a) admitting mistakes and (b) demonstrating positive ways to think about challenging events. Skill sheet from friendship group with Mark Lane, LCSW-R

10 CHALLENGING IRRATIONAL BELIEFS The negative implications of irrational thinking include inflexibility in behavior towards others, unrealistically high expectations for self and others, demanding thoughts and behaviors, and negative emotions. Irrational beliefs need to be challenged so that more flexible thinking can result. Use the ABC model to help challenge negative thinking: Activating Event >thoughts/beliefs >feelings/actions > Dispute> Goal. The following questions can assist in evaluating your thoughts and beliefs: A. What happened? (A or the activating events) B. What are your thoughts about what happened? (B or thoughts and beliefs) C. What are your feelings and actions? (C or the consequential feelings and actions) D. Challenge your negative thoughts and belief. 3 major irrational beliefs have been identified 1. WORTHLESS: I am worthless if I don t do as well and win as much approval as I must 2. AWFULIZING: It s awful, terrible that I am NOT doing as I must 3. I can t-stand-it-itis : I can t stand to bear the things that are happening to me that MUST not happen. E. Set a goal and make plan... When you ask more challenging questions you are replacing the irrational thoughts with more sensible ones. Challenging negative thinking takes practice. TRANSFER OF LEARNING: When upset, encourage your child to take time away to calm down. When reflecting back on upsets, use active listening, acknowledge and accept all thoughts and feelings, then encourage your child to (a) notice their positive thinking and (b) challenge their negative thinking by using the ABC. Model this skill by discussing how you can think more positively about upsets. * Skill sheet from friendship skills group with Mark Lane, LCSW-R * Borrow from Thinking, Feeling, Behaving: An Emotional Education Curriculum for Adolescents. Grades 7-12, by Ann Vernon.

11 PRACTICING THE ABC MODEL (Adversity, Belief and Consequence) How you feel doesn t just come out of the blue and isn t determined by the things that happen to you. Instead, it is what your child says himself when problems arise that makes them feel the way they do. When your child suddenly feels mad or sad, there was a thought that triggered the feeling, and once he or she is able to unconver the thought, they can change their feelings. TRANSFERING SKILLS TO HOME AND SCHOOL HOMEWORK: REAL LIFE ABC S; Ask your child to provide examples from their own life. Examples do NOT have to be a time that something horrible happened. Rather, it can be anytime in which your child felt sad or mad or embarrassed or afraid or acted in a way someone elseor you didn t like (e.g. nasty to a friend, gave up easily) even if they didn t feel this way or act this way for that long. Help your child identify their beliefs and the consequences of those beliefs. Use the blank cartoon provided after they can tell you in words about their example. Skill sheet from friendship group with Mark Lane, LCSW-R Borrowed from The Optimistic Child by Martin Seligman, Ph.D.

12 Who s responsible for your feelings? Challenge negative thinking. When you are hoping to do (e.g. go to friends house, watch movie, etc.) or get something (part in play, high grade on test, etc.) and you don t, or if you have to do something you don t want to do (homework, chore, errand, etc.), you may feel DISAPPOINTED. Know the physical signs of this feeling and use your discomfort to develop improved coping skills. This can be done by using solution building skill #9, Asking yourself questions: o Who is usually to blame for your disappointment you or someone else? o Is it really possible for someone else to be cause your unhappiness? o Where do disappointing or unhappy feelings come from? o What can you do when you find yourself blaming someone else for your feelings? o Who is more in charge of your feelings, your or someone else? TRANSFER OF LEARNING: When your child becomes disappointed unhappy, or angry, encourage identification of the physical signs of this feeling and encourage self calming strategies. Ask them, how is your body feeling now? what can you do to calm down? If appropriate, ask the above questions. borrowed from Thinking, Feelings, and Behaving: An Emotional Education Curriculum by Ann Vernon. Skill sheet from friendship group with Mark Lane, LCSW-R

13 It s Always thinking about your thinking How we think greatly affects how we feel and act. Sometimes our thinking makes sense (rational) and helps, sometimes our thinking makes us feel worse or does NOT make sense (Irrational). Learning and thinking about the different types of negative thinking can help you to be more positive. To overgeneralize means to lump everything into one big category and assume that what applies to one applies to all. Overgeneralizations often include words like all, no one, and everyone. Examples may include: All girls like to cook; all boys are like sports No one likes me Everyone who has long hair smokes cigarettes No one in here can play an instrument well Catch your negative thoughts, challenge them, and let them go. If you find yourself overgeneralizing, you can challenge by asking yourself, does this statement/thought really apply to everyone, all the time, without exception. TRANSFER OF LEARNING: Help your child think about their thinking. Talk about your own thoughts and times you make have had irrational thoughts (nevers, shoulds, always, jumping to conclusions, etc.). When your child describes and upset, ask, what did you think about that?. Help your child identify and challenge overgeneralizations. * Skill sheet from friendship group with Mark Lane, LCSW-R * Borrowed from Thinking, Feeling, Behaving: An Emotional Education Curriculum for Children, by Ann Vernon

14 Listen to your thoughts and watch out for negative chain reactions Skill #2 A chain reaction is when one event triggers others. Or, in the case of cognitive therapy, when one situation triggers a range of emotions. Awareness of this cycle is important as is the knowledge that this cycle can be brought under control by changing one s thoughts, and subsequently one s feelings. Remember, our thoughts greatly affect how we feel. TRANSFER OF LEARNING: When upset, encourage your child to take time away to calm down. When reflecting back on upsets, use active listening, acknowledge and accept all thoughts and feelings, encourage your child to listen to their thoughs and label chain reactions. Ask your child, what can you think to break this negative chain reaction. * Skill sheet from friendship skills group with Mark Lane, LCSW-R * Borrow from Thinking, Feeling, Behaving: An Emotional Education Curriculum for Adolescents. Grades 7-12, by Ann Vernon.

15 CHALLENGE NEGATIVE THINKING "use rose-colored glasses" Looking at things through "rose colored glasses" means that everything looks great. If we think about things irrationally, e.g. use "shouldy" or "it's always" thinking, we are looking at things through black colored glasses. Looking at things negatively can affect the way we feel and behave. The negative implications of irrational thinking include inflexibility in behavior towards others, unrealistically high expectations for self and others, demanding thoughts and behaviors, and negative emotions. Irrational beliefs need to be challenged so that more flexible thinking can result. Challenging negative thinking takes practice. TRANSFER OF LEARNING: Help your child think about their thinking. Talk about your own thoughts and times you make have had irrational thoughts (nevers, shoulds, always, jumping to conclusions, etc.). When your child describes and upset, ask, what did you think about that?. Explain the difference between thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Ask, is there another way to think about (the event)?. When upset, encourage your child to take time away to calm down. When reflecting back on upsets, use active listening, acknowledge and accept all thoughts and feelings, then encourage your child to (a) notice their positive thinking and (b) challenge their negative thinking by putting on "rose colored glasses". Model this skill by discussing how you can think more positively about upsets. * Skill sheet from friendship skills group with Mark Lane, LCSW-R * Borrow from Thinking, Feeling, Behaving: An Emotional Education Curriculum for Adolescents. Grades 1-6, by Ann Vernon. Skill sheet from friendship group with Mark Lane, LCSW-R Borrowed from Thinking, Feeling, Behaving: An Emotional Education Curriculum for Children, by Ann Vernon

16 Shoulds, Shoulds, Shoulds thinking about your thinking How we think greatly affects how we feel and act. Sometimes our thinking makes sense (rational) and helps, sometimes our thinking makes us feel worse or does NOT make sense (Irrational). Learning and thinking about the different types of negative thinking can help you to be more positive. A good deal of irrational thinking relates to shoulds that we have about how an event should occur, how someone should act, or how we ourselves should be. Examples may include: I should always be a good teacher and never lose my temper with children People should always act the way I want them to. I should be able to buy everything I want. Catch your negative thoughts, accept and then challenge them, and let them go. If you find yourself using the word should frequently, ask yourself why should it or replace should with it would be nice if. TRANSFER OF LEARNING: Help your child think about their thinking. Talk about your own thoughts and times you make have had irrational thoughts (nevers, shoulds, always, jumping to conclusions, etc.). When your child describes and upset, ask, what did you think about that?. Help your child identify and challenge overgeneralizations. Skill sheet from friendship group with Mark Lane, LCSW-R Borrowed from Thinking, Feeling, Behaving: An Emotional Education Curriculum for Children, by Ann Vernon

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