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Teaching Positive Self-talk

Definitions of Self-talk by Researchers

⚫ What people say to themselves, with particular emphasis on the words used to express
thoughts and beliefs about oneself and the world to oneself (Burnett, 1996b cited in
Yaratan & Yucesoylu, 2010)
⚫ A set of messages that play over and over in our minds which frames our reactions to life
and its circumstances (Jantz, 2016)
⚫ Represents children’s attempts to use language as an instrument of thought, that is, as a
tool to plan, guide, and monitor problem-solving activity (Vygotsky, 1962 cited in
Frauenglass & Diaz, 1985)
⚫ Our internal dialog, the words we say to ourselves (Yaratan & Yucesoylu, 2010)
⚫ Refers to overt language directed to the self for the purpose of guiding cognitive
performance and regulating social behavior (Zivin, 1979 cited in Frauenglass & Diaz, 1985)

In summary, self-talk, although from a person’s mind, controls the mind reversely to
affect emotions, attitudes, degree of effort, behavior, and even lead to better
performance. It may also stimulate better self-esteem and self-concept.

Therefore, students of all ages including those with mild disabilities, especially
learning disability and emotional disturbance and English language learners
(although no research was found) and adults can all benefit using the positive self-
talk strategy.
Types of Positive Self-talk
Types Example Sentences
⚫ I am great. / I am the best.
⚫ I can do _________ better than anyone else.
Strengthening Self-esteem
⚫ I am a Writer. I can write my thoughts.
⚫ I am a Reader. I am able to read my thoughts.
⚫ What is it that I have to do?
Assessment ⚫ Look over the task and think about it.
of the Situation ⚫ If this problem feels kind of hard, that means I need to
try a little harder; then I’ll probably be successful.
Recognizing and ⚫ Okay, I feel worried and scared but…
⚫ I’m saying things that don’t help me.
Controlling the Impulse of
⚫ I can stop and think more helpful thoughts.
Negative Thoughts ⚫ If I make a mistake, I can probably find it and correct it.
⚫ Don’t worry. Remember to use your plan.
⚫ Take it step-by-step – look at one question at a time.
Confronting / ⚫ Don’t let your eyes wander to other questions.
Coping / Controlling ⚫ Don’t think about what others are doing. Take it one
step at a time.
⚫ When you feel your fears are coming on take a deep
breath, think “I’m doing just fine. Things are going well.”
⚫ I can probably do this problem because I’ve done similar
ones successfully.
⚫ I’m usually successful when I work carefully and use the
learning strategy correctly.
⚫ I did really well in not letting this get the best of me.
⚫ Good for me. I did a good job.
⚫ I did a good job in not allowing myself to worry so much.
⚫ My thoughts make sense.

Corral, N. & Antia, S. D. (1997, March-April). Self-talk strategies for success in math. Teaching Exceptional Children. 29(4). 42-45.
Frauenglass, M. H. & Diaz, R. M. (1985). Self-regulatory functions of children’s private speech: A critical analysis of recent
challenges to Vygotsky’s theory. Developmental Psychology. 21(2). 357-364.
Haugh, J. A. & Pawtowski, J. (1996). Creating metacognitive experiences during written communication: Positive self-talk using
the thinking mirror. Reading Horizons. 37(1). 75-93.
Jantz, G. L. (2016, May). The power of positive self-talk. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/hope-
Kamann, M. P. & Wong, B. Y. L. (1993, November). Inducing adaptive coping self-statements in children with learning disabilities
through self-instruction Training. Journal of Learning Disabilities. 26(9). 630-638.
Solley, B. A. & Payne, B. D. (1992, September). The use of self-talk to enhance children’s writing. Journal of Instructional
Psychology. 19(3). 205-213.
Yaratan, H. & Yucesoylu, R. (2010). Self-esteem, self-concept, self-talk and significant others’ statements in fifth grade
students: Differences according to gender and school type. Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences. 2(2). 3506-3518.

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