Do you remember the last time you heard a little voice inside your head telling you that you can't do something? That voice that makes you doubt yourself and your abilities? That's your inner critic, and we all have it. 

The inner critic is a natural part of the human brain. It evolved to keep us safe by warning us of potential danger and preventing us from making mistakes. 

When we focus on our doubt and negative chatter, the negativity can persist too long and create a significant barrier to our progress. 

Doubt can manifest as fear, anxiety, or indecision, contributing to a lack of momentum. As PureGame works with kids through our school partnerships, we have found this to be a significant issue with today's young people. The levels of anxiety, depression, and loneliness are increasing, and our kids' health reflects this problem.

As adults, it's essential to teach children about the inner critic and help them normalize it. We must teach them that doubting themselves is okay in moderation and doesn't mean they're incapable. 

Here are some ways we can do that:

Name it: The first step to normalizing the inner voice is to name it. Explain to children that this voice in their head is part of being human and is the brain trying to bring the confusing outside world inside to make sense of it. These conversations can help them recognize when it's happening and understand that it's normal.

Accept it: After normalizing the voice, we can accept it. Hearing and accepting the voice allows us to see it as a tool to advance our growth instead of something that holds us back. We will want to listen to and act upon elements of what we hear. But there are also elements that we should treat with a healthy disrespect. In other words, we listen to what it says, nod our heads, and move on.

Reframe it: The inner voice can be negative, telling us we're not good enough or will fail. But we can reframe those messages into more positive ones. For example, instead of "I can't do this," we can say, "I'm still learning." Help kids learn to replace negative self-talk with more positive, growth-focused language. 

Use it as a tool: The inner critic can be valuable for growth and self-improvement. Encourage children to use it as motivation to improve themselves and strive for their goals. For example, if the inner critic says, "You're not good at this," turn it into a challenge - "What can I do to improve?"

Encourage self-compassion: This is probably the most important thing to teach young people. It is at the core of everything PureGame does through our school partnership program. It's essential to teach children self-compassion. It's okay to make mistakes and experience doubt. Remind them they're not alone, and everyone experiences this feeling at some point. Encourage them to speak kindly to themselves and treat themselves with the same kindness and compassion they would offer their friends. 

You can help PureGame kids, and any young person in your life, by becoming a Wisdom Champion. Visit this page to learn more.

The inner voice is a normal part of being human. By teaching children how to embrace it and use it as a tool for growth, we can help them build resilience and overcome self-doubt. 

Let's help children become confident, self-aware, and compassionate individuals whose inner voice does not hold back.

Tony  Everett

Tony Everett

Founder & Chief Playmaker

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