Thought Chain – My Most Used Therapy Tool

Thought Feelings Behavior Chain

Think of any situation that is causing difficulties. For example, sitting down and getting homework done. Identify that it’s not about the situation it’s the way we think about the situation that causes trouble. The thoughts around it that might be causing problems are this is going to take too long, I don’t know how to do this, I’m just not a math person. All of those thoughts make us feel not so great, inadequate, dumb. For kids that really hard, they don’t know how to understand that. So, what do they do, they avoid it, push back, have big outbursts, or do one million other things instead of getting in the chair, sitting down and starting their work. So often times we don’t want to force compliance because we aren’t going to get great effort out of them just by getting them physically in to the chair. We want to help them understand different ways of thinking about homework. That starts with understanding the thoughts that we can help shift and make more helpful and realistic. Then being able to have better feelings and behaviors or choices because of that. Doing a situation, thought, feelings, behavior chain is something that is so helpful in lots of different situations. We find that if we end up doing some more helpful thoughts for example instead of “This is too hard, I don’t know how to do this, I’m dumb” –“This is going to take a lot of practice, I’ll ask for help when I need it. I’m smart at a lot of things Ex: I’m great at Science and I’m great at English but maybe this isn’t my strength but  that doesn’t mean I’m dumb” When we shift our thoughts around it all of sudden we feel a little bit more motivated, a little bit more positive about it. We’re able to sit down and start the task and see “Hey maybe it’s not as bad as I thought it was” or “even though I got two wrong I got eight right and that’s pretty great”. When we’re able to get the ball rolling and get that initial buy in from kid’s we see a much better outcome.

Hopefully that’s something that can be helpful. Breakdown any situation and try to understand your kid’s perspectives and thoughts around it not just what we’re assuming is going on with the situation. Often times, parents misunderstand and think their kid is just lazy, unmotivated or they don’t care about school. Sometimes that couldn’t be further from the truth. We just need to really understand what their perceptions are about themselves or about the situation going on.

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