kid chasing off negative thoughts

Earlier this year my vice principal sent me a link to the following Reddit post ‘Jeremy Lins Response to Kenyon Martin’. Basically, Kenyon Martin says some negative things about Jeremy Lin in a public interview. In the age of social media apps, publicly sharing unfiltered thoughts is all too common. Lins response, however, is far less common. Rather than being sarcastic, retaliating or even ignoring, Lin uses his social media to turn a negative into a positive.

How does this relate to kids and stress?

To me, this is all about self talk. I am sure that Lins initial emotional response was not as positive as his tweet. When I shared Martin’s quote with the kids, we used our self talk chart to work out what we figured Lin might have been thinking, how he felt and predicted what he might have done. It looked like this:

Triggering incidentThought (self talk)FeelingAction
Martin’s quote“Am I racist?”, “People must think I’m such a loser”, “I should cut my hair”, “Martin is a jerk and I hate him”Embarrassed, sad, ashamed, angryLay low, lash out with extreme force over social media, humiliate him

When I shared Lins tweet with the kids, they were surprised and impressed. We talked about how he might have dealt with hurtful thoughts and feelings in order to be able to respond the way he did. Again, it goes back to being mindful; being aware of how your thoughts (in response to a situation) can really determine what you feel and do.

feeling - thinking spectrum

The kids realized that he had to challenge any initial negative thoughts (as above) and consciously choose a more positive replacement thought. He had to get himself from a place of strong feeling to a place of thinking.

So we did a second chart.

Triggering incidentThought (self talk)FeelingAction
Martin’s quote“My hair is like this because I like it that way. There is nothing racist in appreciation”, “Martin must be pretty upset about something to lash out like that. He doesn’t even know me, so it probably has nothing to do with me personally”, “He and I have something in common – maybe that’s how we can connect in a good way”Confused, proud, calm, hopeful, determinedPositive twitter response

If you come across a situation in real life or online, role playing through it with your child/class/self is a great opportunity to practice thinking about self talk. Sometimes, kids, have an easier time breaking down other people’s thinking, and that can be a gateway to better understanding and managing their own.