"I never do well on math tests."
"I am someone who has a hard time making friends."
The internal dialogue we carry on with ourselves has immediate and measurable effects on our abilities and performance. This effect has been documented by sports researchers at Purdue, and Tim Wilson, a psychology professor at UVA.
Dr. Wilson found that through a brief 45 minute process of story editing in which people changed the self defeating negative part of their internal dialogue, they were able to improve their grades. A similar study at Stanford helped students to feel more at ease and have more successful social interactions.
In groups we do several activities designed to give kids their own expertise in story editing. We have a great game called The Storymatic and another, for younger kids, called Story Cubes. We also take time at the beginning of each group to give each member a chance to share a victory or challenge story from the week.
Facilitators use reflective and empathetic listening to draw out the important elements of the story and then reframe them in ways that emphasize the child's strengths. During the story telling time, other group members can make connections to their own experience, or ask questions. The group members who have been there a while often help their friends with reframing!