How To Respond When Your Child Says "I'm So Stupid"

As parents it can be alarming when children have negative self thoughts. We want to immediately jump in and correct them, talking them out of such a preposterous hypothesis, and installing our own ideas and perspectives. All in the hope of helping them to see their ability in a more positive light. The end goal here is indeed for children to see themselves as capable and confident, to feel valuable and worthwhile. But, there is a process that needs to take place before a child can move towards a different perspective and change the view they have about themselves.

If I was to tell a friend 'I am just no good at public speaking', they would probably say "Don't be ridiculous, you'll be fine. I think you are great". I would be left feeling much the same, or even worse. If I was to repeat the same statement to a life coach or counselor, their response would be very different. I would feel safe to express my thoughts and ideas. I would feel understood and not judged. I would be in a position to accept where I am right now and then have the ability to see the steps I need to take to move forward.

When parents try to talk children out of their emotions or dismiss their thoughts as wrong, children learn not to trust their own feelings. Children also learn that negative feelings or thoughts shouldn't be shared, especially not with parents. They learn to hide their feelings, ignore them or act them out in dysfunctional ways. These are coping strategies. Later on in life these strategies may well be in the form of food, alcohol, or drugs. Masking any uncomfortable feeling.