Can Positive Self-Talk Help Your Child in Math?

A Dutch study of tweens says that a little positive self-talk can help kids with math. Find out more – plus tips for teaching this important skill to children.

Could teaching your child a little positive self-talk help him or her do better in math?

It may seem like a stretch, but a new Dutch study of 212 9- to 13-year-olds found that encouraging kids to make positive statements to themselves – things like “I will do my very best” – can actually help improve test scores in some cases, CNN recently reported.

Eddie Brummelman, study co-author and an assistant child development professor in Amsterdam, said children with low self-confidence especially benefit from the positive self-talk. And the self-talk must be about effort rather than ability, he noted.

“We did not find the same result among children with low self-confidence who spoke to themselves about ability. Self-talk about effort is the key,” he told CNN.

Meanwhile, kids who engaged in self-talk about their abilities – with statements like “I’m very good at this!” – did not see improvement on their math test scores.

Focusing on the effort, rather than the outcome, is also part of fostering a growth mindset. While a fixed mindset means a child believes his or her intelligence is “set” or predetermined, kids with a growth mindset believe that hard work and persistence will lead to success in any topic.

Even without the potential math benefits, positive affirmations and self-talk has proven benefits for mental health and for kids facing challenging situations, according to WebMD. In other studies, positive self-talk has been shown to improve kids’ sports performance, while negative self-talk is linked to depression and anxiety, CNN reports.

How to teach positive affirmations

Ready to start incorporating positive affirmations into your daily routine with your child? Consider these tips from parenting site Kiddie Matters. Find the full article here.

  • Keep it short and simple

    Affirmations should be short and easy for children to remember, according to Kiddie Matters.

  • Let your kids get involved

    While you can make suggestions, let your kids get involved in coming up with the affirmations they like, the site recommends.

Examples of positive self-talk

In addition to the positive affirmations you and your child come up with, you might consider the following 10 examples of positive affirmations for kids. Find more at Planet of Success.

  1. I learn from my mistakes.
  2. I trust in my abilities.
  3. I can become whatever I want to be.
  4. I am confident.
  5. I always find ways to overcome challenges.
  6. I work hard.
  7. I believe in myself.
  8. I am loved.
  9. I will be friendly and kind.
  10. Whatever I do, I give my best effort.


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