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4 Ways Parents Can Help Their Teen Tame Their Negative Self-talk

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Words matter. How we speak to ourselves can impact our mood. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) tells us that we all have an inner voice that’s critical. When we make a mistake, it’s easy to beat ourselves up. When we may refer to ourselves as “idiots” and “failures”. Those negative statements stick.

CBT teaches us that our negative self-talk shapes our emotions and behaviors. This is all the more true for teens. Teen brains are in a state of rapid development and are susceptible to intense negative self-talk.

A lot of the teens I work with struggle with negative self-talk. When negative self-talk is not addressed, it can grow into teen anxiety, panic attacks, depression or other teen struggles. How can you as a parent help your teen tame their negative-self-talk? Read to find out!

The Two Big Questions

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Teens are not kids. And they are not adults. They are in a transitional stage trying to answer two big questions. The first question is:

  1. “Who am I?” and,

  2. “Where do I belong?”

Teens try to answer these questions in many different ways. Some look to their friends. Others turn to popular culture. In the search to answer these questions many teens fall in the trap of negative self-talk.

”Who am I?” may get answered with critical comments like, “I'm ugly”, “I'm boring”, or "I'm not good enough". “Where do I belong” may get answered with “I have no friends” and “I’ll never fit in.”

This negative self-talk spreads like wildfire. It turns into teen anxiety, panic attacks, depression or other struggles that can lead to low self-esteem. Negative self-talk can be a sticky trap that teens have a hard time getting out of by themselves.

How Parents Can Help

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Here is a list of ways that you can help your teen tame their negative self-talk:

1. Empathize With the Negative Self-Talk

Empathy includes deep listening and validation. When your teen shares their negative self-talk, try to avoid jumping right to a positive statement. Listen to their struggle and empathize with their pain. You might even share that you have similar thoughts cross your mind.

2. Help Reframe the Negative Self-Talk

After empathizing with your teen, the next step is helping them reframe. Reframing negative self-talk includes an element of challenge.

When your teen states they are “stupid” ask them what they mean by that. If they say they wish they had all A’s, help them see that grades are not the only indicator of intelligence.

When your teen says they feel unpopular, challenge them to remember that status is fluid. CBT states that our automatic negative thoughts can decrease if we work on reframing.

3. Model Positive Self-Talk

It’s important for parents to model healthy self-talk. We are all humans and make mistakes. We all struggle with an inner critic that sometimes comes out in harsh ways. If you can reframe your own negative-self talk this will speak volumes to your teen.

Instead of being critical, practice self-compassion statements. Self-compassion statements are things like, ”Everyone struggles sometimes” and “No one is perfect.”

4. Connect Your Teen With a Therapist

If your teen’s self-talk has evolved into teen anxiety, panic attacks, depression or other struggles, you may consider teen therapy. Teen therapy is an effective means of helping your teen tame their negative self-talk.

A CBT teen therapist works with teens on identifying and reframing negative thoughts. A trained teen counselor will equip your teen with skills and strategies.

CBT teen therapy includes exercises your teen can work on in session and at home. One of these exercises is the thought record log. This encourages teens to write down their negative thoughts and work on reframing. This is an effective tool that helps a teen track their progress in therapy.

Katy Teen & Family Counseling: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Teen Counseling & Family Therapy in Katy, Tx & Houston

At Katy Teen & Family Counseling, our teen therapy and family counseling specialists can help your teen tame their negative self-talk. Our family therapy counselors can help parents learn the skills and tools needed to increase long term changes.

Your teen does not have to struggle with teen depression, anxiety, panic attacks, ADHD/ADD, substance abuse, trauma, or PTSD. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a teen therapy approach supported by research and shown to be effective.

If you are ready to start your therapy journey with the teen therapy and family counseling specialists at Katy Teen & Family Counseling, all you need to do is follow these three simple steps:

  1. Contact Katy Teen & Family Counseling

  2. Speak with one of our teen therapy & family counseling specialists

  3. Start your journey towards restoring hope, happiness, and connected family relationships

Other Therapy and Counseling Services Offered at Katy Teen & Family Counseling

At the Katy, Tx location of Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we provide other teen therapy and family counseling services. Below are a few of the offerings we provide for teens, families, and young adults in Katy, Tx and Houston:

Neurofeedback Therapy

Peak performance (optimal academic brain performance)

Peak performance (optimal athletic brain performance)

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR Therapy)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

About the Author

Quique Autrey is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). He provides teen therapy, young adult counseling, and family counseling at Katy Teen & Family Counseling.

Quique also is successful in working with couples in addition to working with teens and young adults on the autism spectrum.

If you're ready to start your teen therapy, young adult counseling, or family therapy journey, you can call us at 346-202-4662 or email us at

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