How To Prevent And Eliminate Automatic Negative Thoughts For Kids
Kids can experience the same kinds of automatic negative thoughts (ANTs) that adults do, but they might not know how to recognize them. For example, kids may take things very personally or assume they know what another person is thinking. This guide will help you learn how to recognize ANTs in yourself and your child so that you can start working on overcoming them together!
How Kids Can Develop Automatic Negative Thoughts?
Automatic negative thoughts, or ANTs, are unhealthy thought patterns that can cause stress and anxiety. They’re often irrational and not based in reality. Kids may develop ANTs when they’re young, but adults can also experience them after a traumatic event or if they are dealing with depression or anxiety.
To help your child recognize the signs of ANTs:
- Ask questions about how their day went at school or with friends (or just talk about what happened).
- If you notice your child has been thinking negatively about something that happened during the day, ask them why they think this way? Are there other ways to look at this situation? What would make them feel better? If it’s something you can’t change right away–like being late for an appointment–what do they need from you right now?
- If your child says they are feeling anxious or depressed, ask them if they want to talk about it. If they say no, just let them know that you’re there if they want to talk.
Taking things very personally
This is a big one. If you’re the kind of person who takes things personally, then it’s likely that you’ve experienced some form of anxiety at some point in your life.
It’s also important to remember that we all have automatic negative thoughts sometimes–it doesn’t make us bad people or mean we should feel guilty about them! The key is not judging ourselves too harshly for having these thoughts, but rather understanding where they come from and working on letting go of them as much as possible so they don’t take over our lives.
Overgeneralizing from a single event
Overgeneralizing is when you make a generalization based on a single experience. It can cause you to feel like a failure, even though the situation isn’t necessarily representative of the entire world. For example, if someone trips while running in gym class and falls down, they might think that they are clumsy or cannot run fast enough.
This type of thinking can also be related to events that aren’t about yourself at all–but rather other people or situations that happened in your past or present life (like being bullied). For example: “I’m never going to get along with my brother because he’s mean.”
Assuming you know what another person is thinking
You can’t know what someone else is thinking, and it’s not your job to guess. Even if you think you know them well, there will always be aspects of their character and personality that remain a mystery to others. So don’t assume that just because something happened in the past or because of some small detail about them today (for example: “She always seems so happy when she sees her friends,” or “He acts like he doesn’t care”), that they must have these feelings all the time–and definitely don’t assume they will continue having those feelings forever!
Assuming that everyone thinks like me/believes what I believe/feels how I feel at any given moment in time (or ever). This goes back again to not knowing all there is about someone else’s life experience yet still making judgments based on limited information available through observation alone (which as we already discussed above).
Using words like “should” or “must”
The use of words like “should” or “must” can be very unhelpful. They make you feel guilty or anxious, which can lead to perfectionism, procrastination and a sense of failure.
These words are often used as an excuse to not take action. For example, if someone says they “should” be doing something but aren’t, it could mean that they have an underlying belief that they’re not good enough or capable of doing what needs to be done. It may also mean that they don’t believe in themselves or are afraid of failure (or both).
Believing that all of the bad things in your life overshadow all of the positive
It’s important to be able to balance the good and bad. When something bad happens, it’s easy to get caught up in your own negative thoughts and believe that all of the bad things in your life overshadow all of the positive. But if we were to look at this rationally, we would realize that this simply isn’t true!
For example: say your best friend invited you over for dinner but then canceled last minute because he had too much homework. You could think about how disappointing that was for both of you or focus on how nice it was when he asked me over in the first place (which was very thoughtful). Or maybe someone broke into my car while I was at work and stole all of my stuff–it is terrible! But there are so many other things happening around us every day; why should I focus on this one incident?
Being unnecessarily critical of yourself
It’s normal to make mistakes, but it can be hard to get over them if you’re constantly criticizing yourself for doing so. When you are critical of yourself, it can be difficult to ask for help or accept that someone else might have done something better than you did. Instead of focusing on what went wrong and why it wasn’t good enough, try thinking about ways that next time could go better–and then try again!
Remember that everyone is human, and every human makes mistakes sometimes!
It’s also important to remember that everyone makes mistakes sometimes. No one is perfect, and everyone has days when they feel like they can’t do anything right.
In these moments, it’s best not to beat yourself up about your mistakes or feel bad about yourself overall; instead, think of these as learning opportunities! Instead of thinking “I’m a failure,” think “I’m going to try again tomorrow.”
Find out if you’re thinking about things in a way that might not be realistic
You might want to ask yourself the following questions:
- Is this thought realistic? Do I really need to worry about it?
- Is there another way of looking at the situation that might be more helpful for me and make me feel better about myself, my life, other people or what happened?
We hope you’ll use this list of automatic negative thoughts to help you identify any unhealthy thought patterns in your own life. Remember that everyone makes mistakes sometimes, and it’s important to remember that it’s not always about what happens in the past or what other people think about us–it’s also about how we choose to react and move forward with our lives!