A Daily Plan to Practice Empowering Self-Talk
Self-talk is a powerful strategy that helps children with ADHD develop the metacognition that powers confidence, persistence, and positive self-esteem. Here, learn how to bolster it.
Metacognition is the executive function (EF) that helps us reflect on and manage our thoughts, attention, effort, organizational skills, and emotions. It is the internal dialogue that tells a student, “You’ve done work like this before; you can do it again.”
When a child with ADHD says, “I can’t do math” or “I hate writing,” that is a sign of under-developed metacognition skills that require intervention strategies and supports — namely, structured, open-ended questioning. Guided questioning eventually leads children to develop their own self-talk and do their own thinking, direct their own attention, and recognize and regulate their emotions.
Paired with common daily struggles, the recommended questions below are the same for teachers and parents. That is intentional. Through repetition and experience, children begin to internalize these questions and develop a metacognitive strategy to guide their own self-talk through any struggle — academic, social, or emotional.
Metacognition: Self-Talk Strategies
|EF Skill||Day-to-Day Challenges||Questions|
|Emotional regulation||Feeling frustrated, stressed, overwhelmed, upset, angry
|Initiation and activation||Avoiding assignments, procrastinating on homework, studying, or chores||
|Planning and organizing||Getting stuck on a word or complex text, feeling unsure of next steps on a multi-step math problem, forgetting homework, missing deadlines||
|Sustain attention, effort and working memory||Feeling distracted or unmotivated, not completing assignments, falling off-task||
|Self-monitoring||Failing to calm down and/or complete work, handing in assignments filled with errors, interrupting, carelessness||
Adapted from The Metacognitive Student (Cohen, R., Savage, J., Opatosky, D., Darrah, E., & Stevens S., 2021)
ADHD Metacognition & Self-Talk: Next Steps
- Share: This Chart as a Free Download
- Free Download: The Ultimate Executive Function Guide
- Read: The Power of Self Talk in Controlling an ADHD Brain
- Read: Four Steps to Independence: How to Support (Not Enable) a Child with ADHD
Schoolhouse Blocks: Foundational Executive Functions
Access more resources from ADDitude’s Schoolhouse Blocks: Foundational Executive Functions series exploring common learning challenges and strategies to sharpen core EFs at school.
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