We all have an internal voice we use to talk to ourselves. This self-talk is how we give ourselves feedback. We each have statements we are prone to repeat to ourselves over and over, as if we make a tape recording and press play repeatedly. Children with high self esteem have positive self-talk. Those with low self esteem and/or depression engage in more negative self-talk.
You are likely to hear your child criticize himself. When you hear your child say something such as “I’m stupid,” instead of telling him he is wrong, a more helpful approach is to help him talk about why he feels this way. Once he explains the situation that is causing him to feel stupid, you will be able to offer a more reality-based counter-statement.
You may respond with, “Sounds more like you feel you are bad at book reports, not that you are stupid.” This helps put his negative self-talk in a more realistic perspective. He may indeed be poor at writing book reports, something he will have to work on, but he is not altogether stupid. Eventually he will learn to have this type of realistic talk within himself.