Shredding negative thoughts in First and Second Grades

“You’re lazy.”
“You’re unhealthy.”
“Your child isn’t as successful as his friends.”
“You’re not as successful as your friends.”
“Your marriage isn’t as good as other Westminster parents’ marriages.”
“You’ll never get anywhere if you keep that up.”
“You’ll never get promoted.”

It’s no wonder that a Google search for “negative thoughts” produces 3,920,000 results. Search for “negative self-talk” and you’ll be looking at 440,000 hits. Everyone battles powerful negative thoughts throughout the day. They change our mood, motivation, actions, and eventually results we see in our lives. Aren’t they exhausting? Instead of attempting to block all negative thoughts, acknowledge a negative thought when it pops into your head — and then refuse to give it power. Don’t believe it. Counter it, disprove it, reframe it, “shred” it.

To practice this “shredding” in our First and Second Grade counseling classes this week, students wrote their negative thoughts on pieces of paper and then happily fed them to my paper shredder. Students had the option of showing their papers to me privately before shredding. Below are some of the heartbreaking thoughts students wrote:
“You are bad.”
“You make your mom cry because you are bad.”
“You’re dumb.”
“You are the slowest reader in your class.”
“You’re the slowest runner in the whole grade.”
“You are bad at sports.”
“You read baby books.”
“You act like a teenager.”
“You will never be good at math.”
“You will never have a best friend.”

We wish that the shredding permanently erased the possibility of the thoughts returning, but we know that they might creep in again. Students will work to acknowledge and then take power away from the thoughts when they come. During our next class, we’ll focus on reframing negative thoughts into positive ones.

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