ANTS Are Not What You Think!

family counselor child helpAnts are annoying insects at a picnic; however, this article is going to discuss another kinds of ANTS'Automatic Negative Thoughts. When an event happens, we have a thought about it which results in a feeling. If you change the thought then you can change the feeling.

We all have internal dialog in our heads called automatic thoughts by cognitive theorist Aaron Beck. We almost always believe our automatic thoughts even when they appear illogical upon further study. These automatic thoughts often predict catastrophe and expect the worst. These thoughts can be hard to turn off without conscious and concentrated effort. They often represent themes of anger, anxiety or sadness.

If you have some of these ANTS which, according to McKay, Davis and Fanning in Thoughts & Feelings: Taking Control of Your Moods & Your Life include the shoulds, personalization, magnifying, filtering, etc., it's important to try to eradicate them from your thinking otherwise you can help to develop the same 'tunnel vision' in your child. These thoughts need to be challenged!

For example, have you ever driven home and passed a friend. You waved, however, your friend didn't wave back. You assume your friend is mad at you and wonder what you did wrong. That would be an example of personalization'you related the situation to yourself. If there are no facts to back up your assumption that your friend is mad, then you must challenge that thought. You can ask if there are other possible causes for your friend not waving back which might include:

a. she didn't see you
b. she was distracted by traffic
c. she was daydreaming
d. she was singing her favorite song with the radio
e. she was talking on her mobile phone.
And you could check it out further by calling her if only to say hi and 'I saw you yesterday!'

Your child might repeat the same scenario by saying, 'Joanie didn't sit with me in the cafeteria today at school'I don't think she likes me.' This will cause your child to doubt herself and become insecure and sad'for no real reason! A perception has become reality to her.

Begin noticing your thoughts'especially those that are negative and can hurt you'because we will begin a series talking about the various ANTS and how you can rid them from your mind.

More in the ANTS series:

Part 1 - ANTS: Automatic Negative Thoughts
Part 2: Polarized Thinking
Part 3: Filtering
Part 4 Catastropizing
Part 5: Overgeneralization
Part 6: "Mind Reading"
Part 7: Magnifying
Part 8: "Shoulds"

Copyright ' 2009. No reproduction without written permission from author.

P.S. Please see my other column 'SmileNotes' about gratitude.

Sharon Scott, LPC, LMFT, is an internationally recognized family therapist with a private practice in north Texas. She is considered the leading expert on peer pressure having trained more than one million people across the U.S. and in Australia, Canada, Switzerland, South Africa, Spain, Malaysia, the Philippines, Turkey, and Micronesia in her proven techniques. For information on bringing Sharon to your community or school to present one of her 29 dynamic workshops for children, teens, parents, or educators, please see her website .

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Sharon is the author of eight award-winning books including four on the topic of peer pressure.

peer pressure reveral book coverThe guide for parents/educators on how to peer-proof children and teens is Peer Pressure Reversal: An Adult Guide to Developing a Responsible Child, 2nd Ed.


how to say no and keep friends book coverHer popular book for teens, How to Say No and Keep Your Friends, 2nd Ed., empowers kids to stand out'not just fit in! too smart for trouble book cover A follow-up book for teens, When to Say Yes! And Make More Friends, shows adolescents how to select and meet quality friends and, in general, feel good for doing and being good.


too smart for trouble book coverSharon also has a charming series of five books for elementary-age children each teaching an important living skill and 'co-authored' with her savvy Cocker Spaniel Nicholas who makes the learning fun. Their book on managing elementary-age peer pressure is titled


  child character building  books

Peer Pressure Experienced by Teens, Adolescents and School-age Children. Parenting Advice.

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