power of playfulness

When Kids Call Themselves Stupid

Peace at Home May 9, 2018

During a recent online class, a parent asked the questions, “What do you do when your eight-year-old child calls themselves stupid or dumb all the time? I respond with ‘No you’re not‘ but they just say back, ‘Yes I am!‘”

This is a great question and we hear it from lots of parents.

Here are some ideas:

1. Check to see if any adults in the child’s life criticize themselves when making a mistake. That modeling can be powerful.

2. Check to see if any adults tend toward perfectionism with themselves or with the child – often correcting and directing, wanting to look perfect, avoiding mistakes, putting undue pressure on themselves to perform, etc. Offer guidance or correction only on things that are truly important to the child’s development. That is a pretty small number of things.

3. Try reflective listening. Reflect his emotion and sometimes reflect the challenge he is facing if you know it. Some examples are:

  • “Sounds like you are feeling pretty frustrated right now.”
  • “You seem discouraged with that homework assignment.”
  • “Looks like you disappointed with the grade you got.”

If he responds and tells you a bit more, you can go on to coach problem solving. (To learn more about coaching problem solving, check out our classes on Emotional Intelligence or Understanding Feelings.)

4. Find some time when you can focus on your child without interruption and inquire what he might be feeling or thinking when he calls himself stupid. “I wonder what’s going on when you call yourself stupid. Can you help me understand a little better what you are feeling and thinking?” Just listen. Avoid trying to give solutions to his problem or correcting her thinking. Invite him to think about other ways to handle those thoughts and feelings.

5. Let her know you feel sad when he says mean things to himself. “When you call yourself stupid, I feel sad (or worried or concerned or whatever is true for you).”

If this continues you may want to check in with teachers at school and see if there is something going on that might be affecting your child’s feelings or thoughts about himself. Keep us posted on your progress. This is a common challenge for parents and your process will help others learn.

For more parenting support, please join us for an Upcoming Live Class  or browse our Catalog of Recorded Content including Quick Video Solution Libraries with handouts.  Questions? Email us at Solutions@Peaceathomeparenting.com   

TAGS

Related Posts

Peace at Home

Let’s stop trying to fix children’s mental health

Post-pandemic children and teens are struggling with alarming rates of anxiety and depression as well as suicide. Because

Peace at HomeOctober 25 , 2022
Peace at Home

Finding the Right Therapist Can Be Like Speed

The search for the right therapist can be a lot like speed dating. It can feel tedious, exhausting,

Peace at HomeOctober 24 , 2022
Peace at Home

World Mental Health Day

World Mental Health Day is October 10th and the theme for 2022 is “Make mental health and wellbeing

Peace at HomeOctober 07 , 2022
Peace at Home

Does Peace At Home Parenting make you nervous?

Here at Peace At Home we sometimes worry about making you nervous. Let’s talk about it. If you

Peace at HomeSeptember 30 , 2022
Peace at Home

A Perfect Storm for U.S. Working Families

Children’s Mental Health Crisis and Working Parent Burnout: Companies Can Help One definition of a perfect storm is

Peace at HomeAugust 22 , 2022
Peace at Home

The Kids are Not All Right:7 Steps to

By Ruth E. Freeman, LCSW, David Hanscom, MD, and Aaron Weintraub,MS The experts have declared a “pediatric mental

Peace at HomeJune 28 , 2022

Join our mailing lists for more parenting tips