T(w)eens and Unhelpful Thinking Traps

Updated: Dec 5, 2018

Help! I Gave Birth to Eeyore!

I’ve always thought of myself as a positive, glass half full kind of person. But somehow, my child grew into Mr. Dark Cloud who forever sees the negative side of things! Lucky for him, I’m the mum who believes that these character traits are not fixed in stone. Just like I can help him learn how to add fractions with unlike denominators - I can give him the tools to reframe his thinking.

He - like all kids - Gets Stuck in Thinking Traps

This is where Merrell’s Strong Kids © program and something they call “thinking traps” comes in to the picture. A thinking trap (or – to use psychology terms - “cognitive distortion”) is any time a person gets stuck in a frame of reference that isn’t particularly helpful or accurate. My growing Eeyore isn’t alone in his doomsday thoughts. A lot of kids (and adults!) suffer from cognitive distortion. The awesome thing is that Strong Kids © puts it into language that kids can relate to.

Naming His Thinking TrapsPutting a name to my son’s Thinking Traps was the first step in helping him reframe his thinking. He now knows that he often exhibits “magnifying glass” thinking, meaning that he makes a way bigger deal about things than they really deserve. Like that time his meal at the restaurant was a bit too small to be satisfying and he made everyone feel that he had been starved.

He also knows that he has a tendency to “blame game” – holding someone else responsible for things that are really on him; like when he claims it’s his friend’s fault that he doesn’t finish his own class work. He also loves to spot his friends’ - like Black and White Thinking (thinking: you're either awesome or you suck!) and Fortune Telling (predicting the future without real evidence).

Knowing his strongest thinking traps (Strong Kids identifies the 8 most common thinking traps that kids suffer from) was the first step in finding his way out of them. From there, we’ve used cognitive reframing strategies to help him re-evaluate his thinking.

Now, I’m not going to lie and say that this method has turned my Eeyore into Suzy Sunshine. He still falls into a variety of thinking traps, but his ability to be more self-aware and more quickly move away from this unhelpful framing have truly allowed him to be less anxious and happier overall, which is - afterall - what all of us parents want for our kids. Right?

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