Saturday, June 20, 2015

Automatic Negative Thoughts about Homework

The more I learn about my own child's learning and behavior difficulties, the more I understand how our thoughts play a part in how we approach goals and tasks. I like the explanation given here of "Automatic Negative Thoughts" and how to overcome them from Stowell Learning Center.

Do you remember LIKING homework when you were a kid?
Most of us simply didn't have that experience. It was either "hate" or "just get it done so that I can get on to something fun."
When homework is a real struggle for students, especially day after day, just thinking about having to do homework can turn moods downward in a hurry.

Suddenly the energy that could be invested into getting homework done has evaporated. In its place are slow movements, slow thinking, and slow productivity. What would have taken a long time now stretches into all evening.
I understand. Most people feel that way when they begin a task they feel is difficult or impossible. It's a natural human reaction.
It's also counterproductive. If I don't like doing something, I should put all my energy into doing it so that it won't take longer than it needs to.
Below you'll find a quick summary of one of Dr. Daniel Amen's wonderful books. I think you'll find it helpful, especially when you apply it to helping your child do  homework.

Are "ANTs" Infesting Your Brain?

Have you ever heard your child or teen say something like:
"I'll never get this stupid assignment done."
"I hate doing this math. Why do I need to know this anyway?"
"I can't get this project done because I'm not good at planning.
Dr. Daniel Amen, M.D. calls these kinds of thoughts ANTs, or Automatic Negative Thoughts.

What we think and what we say to ourselves is very powerful. Whether we realize it or not, our body reacts physically to every thought we have. Negative thoughts can automatically come into our minds, and if we let them, they can infest our thinking and ruin our day.
As study strategies go, focusing on how much we hate our homework is a very inefficient one! When the mind is filled with "ANTS," there's no room to focus on doing the job we need to do.

Help your children put the power of words to work for them by learning positive and productive self-talk. How about:

"I'll do this assignment first because I'll feel so proud of myself when it's done."

"I can get the job done when I focus on one problem at a time."

"I need help with planning, but I'm good at other parts of this project."

In his wonderful little book called Mind Coach: How to Teach Kids to Think Positive and Feel GoodDr. Amen points out 9 different types of ANTs. He challenges children and teens to monitor their thoughts, identify the ANTs, and exterminate them.

If we don't challenge our negative thoughts, we just might believe them. Learning to notice our negative thoughts and talk back to them gives us the power to think positively and feel good.

Don't let ANTs infest your brain.
For more information about ANTs or the book Mind Coach, go to

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