How negative thinking affects children

Psychologist & Author David Palmiter, PhD, explains the impact that negative thinking can have on kids, and what parents can do to help their kids be less pessimistic
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How negative thinking affects children

Negative thinking in a child is one of the many different kinds of vulnerabilities kids have. I like a line from Stephen King - ghost are real, monster are real too. They live inside us and sometimes they win. In other words, we're all engaged in an internal battle with ourselves. Show me someone who isn't and I'll show you someone in jail or homeless and some die in certain circumstance. So, if my kid's internal battle is negative thinking, I can try to culture that way because even in that way you have an enemy inside yourself who wants you to think of things that are not true. Let's test and see if it's true. You write down a thought - I have no friends. A kid might come home, they have one bad social moment. I have no friends. Instead of trying to reassure them which can escalate them in the wrong direction, I can say let's find out. Write it down. Now, what's the evidence that you could bring to a judge that says that you have no friends? They will probably recount the event of the day. That's evidence. Sally told me she wouldn't come for a sleepover this weekend. Ask for more. Kids are not used to this. They're used to us talking out of their negative thinking. We are saying give us the facts, Jack. What are the facts and they normally have 2 or 3 things to say. Now what's the evidence that contradicts that idea? Usually there is much more evidence. You're the judge now, Rebecca. Is this true or not? It's not testing, it's a way to battle this kind of negative thinking without throwing flames on it. If I say, "No, you're popular". They don't hear you're popular. They hear, you're not hurting, knock it off, and they escalate and they talk more loudly about how they have no friends. It's not testing. It's the antidote.

Psychologist & Author David Palmiter, PhD, explains the impact that negative thinking can have on kids, and what parents can do to help their kids be less pessimistic


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David Palmiter, PhD, ABPP

Psychologist & Author

Dr. David Palmiter is a professor of Psychology and Counseling at Marywood University. He is a practicing and board-certified clinical psychologist, a past president of the Pennsylvania Psychological Association, the author of over three dozen publications, including two books on promoting resilience in youth, a Fellow of the American Psychological Association (true of < 6% of psychologists), the American Academy of Clinical Psychology and the Pennsylvania Psychological Association in youth. He has also given hundreds of workshops on family issues for organizations such as The Navy SEAL Foundation, The Master Therapist Series at the University of Connecticut, The American Psychological Association and the McGraw-Hill Financial Group and completed hundreds of media projects for outlets such as CNN, The New York Times, US News and World Report and the Wall Street Journal. David is also a dad of three (two studying at Cornell University and one still in high school) and husband of 27 years to Dr. Lia Richards-Palmiter. A central aspect of his professional mission is to put air under the wings of parents as they try to raise happy and resilient children and teens.

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