Introducing Shut the Duck Up!

In 2016 Stride has adopted a new program to help young people challenge and reframe their internal voice.  The following article explains why this is necessary, what students can gain from positive self-talk and some strategies to use with young people in their journey towards success. 

The power of self-talk

Every day we interpret what is happening around us, to us and within us.  Our inner voice plays a huge part in how we understand our experiences and this inner voice is often described as ‘self-talk’.  Our self-talk is often guided by our assumptions and beliefs and can enable us to overcome enormous obstacles.  It can also hold us back and limit what we think we are capable of.  What we say to ourselves about people, situations, achievements, disappointments and ultimately about ourselves determines how we see the world and what we think of our ability to interact with it.

For young people just starting out in their experience of life, what they say to themselves can have a huge impact on their pathway towards adulthood.  How a young person behaves socially, emotionally and academically can be enormously impacted by the messages they tell themselves.  A young person’s self-talk can be motivating, enabling and positive but it also can be demoralising, limiting and negative.

The difficulty is that self-talk is unseen.  Unless the messages young people tell themselves are expressed and challenged, the impact of self-talk may go unnoticed or be misunderstood.  During such a sensitive time of social and emotional learning, teenagers are prone to distortions in their perceptions about people and situations.  Challenging negative and unhelpful aspects of self-talk can help young people to reframe their thinking and approach situations in a more helpful way.  It can help them to interact more confidently with others and enable them to achieve better outcomes at school.

Strategies to enable positive self-talk

Recognising this issue, Gavin Freeman, a performance Psychologist, developed a program to challenge negative self-talk and enable positive thinking in school aged children and teenagers.  Gavin has vast experience as a sports Psychologist and a business coach and applied this understanding to working with young people.  Gavin has now partnered with Stride who offer his program to schools across Australia.

Shut the Duck Up is a program that aims to help young people to identify and challenge negative self-talk using the analogy of a quacking duck.  The program encourages students to imagine their negative thoughts to be like a duck quacking and challenges students to Shut the Duck Up, reframe thinking and use more helpful strategies in approaching social, emotional and academic situations.

Some of the key elements of Shut the Duck Up can be used to help any person to identify, challenge, reframe and redirect self-talk to be more helpful.  These are:

  1. Identifying pressure situations (day to day stressors), associated thoughts and behavioural responses.

What situation gets me really upset or worked up?  What do I say to myself in this situation?  How do I behave in this situation?

  1. Identifying and challenging negative thoughts and behaviours.

           Is what I’m thinking really true or going to happen?  Is this behavior actually helping?

  1. Developing strategies to prevent and cope with negative thoughts.

           Are there more positive ways to behave in response to this situation?  

  1. Applying positive strategies to deal with pressure situations.

           What’s going to work for me?  Putting it into practice.

  1. Setting a commitment to do things differently.

           Writing down your plan or telling someone you trust what you are going to do differently.

Further information about Shut the Duck Up can be found here.  Please let us know if you would like any further information or to book a program for your students.

Karen Holmes – Stride Manager