How To Feed Your PETs Instead Of Your ANTs.


When I’m coaching kids I like to keep things simple and memorable.

I like to open their eyes to what is really going on for them and show them how they can get their brain working in the right way.

I often start with their ANTs, because I have yet to meet someone that doesn’t find their picnic being highjacked every now and again.

We have thousands of thoughts every day.

They control how we feel about ourselves and the world around us.

Positive thoughts lead to us feeling good and negative thoughts drag us down.

Sometimes our thoughts happen so quickly that we don’t even notice them, but they can still affect how we show up.

These are called automatic thoughts and are often negative and irrational ANTs.

The great thing is that ANTs – automatic negative thoughts can easily be changed into PETs – positive empowering thoughts.

It all starts with some awareness- for big kids too.

Start by tracking your ANTS and noticing when they happen.

You can then start to challenge them by changing them into PETs instead.

It’s up to you who you feed!

Recognise any of these ANTs?

1. Negative Labelling
Having a negative belief about yourself and thinking it applies to everything you do.
“I’m crap at tech. I’m useless. Everything I do is rubbish.”

2. Setting the Bar Too High
Thinking that you must be perfect in everything you do, otherwise, you’re no good.
“I better nail 10k views on this blog in the first week. Or I’m finished.”

3. Self-blaming
Blaming yourself for anything that goes wrong around you, even if you had nothing to do with it. Something doesn’t work, you think it’s entirely down to you.
“They screwed up. It’s my fault.”

4. Feelings as Facts
Believing that if you feel something, it must be true. I feel useless, so I must be useless.
“I feel like I’m terrible at learning, so I must be terrible.”

5. Should Statements
Believing things have to be a certain way. “I should be able to do it by now.”
“I should always be happy.” “I should never be down.”

6. Ignoring the Good
You pay more attention to bad things and ignore when something good happens. You get one answer wrong on a test, and all you can think about is the mistake. You score two goals, but all you can think about is the one you missed.

7. Blowing Things Up
Making a really big deal out of something small, or making something unimportant seem like the worst thing ever. You make a tiny mark on your car and think it’s ruined.
“I’ve screwed that up. My life is over!”

8. Fortune Telling
Thinking you know what will happen in the future- and of course, it will be bad.
“I know he’ll say no.” “I bet no one will be interested in this.”

9. Mind Reading
Believing you know what someone else is thinking. Or why they are doing something, without having enough information.
“They don’t think I’m good enough.” “They obviously don’t like me”

Any of those familiar?

It’s easily done.

It just means that out of your thousands of thoughts, you are focusing on the unhelpful ones rather than on the great!

Once you know your ANTs, you can turn them into PETs. Just pick a PET and feed it. Take it for a walk and throw it a bone.

It will be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Positive Empowering Thoughts- PETs

1. Focus on Strengths
Shift your attention to focus on what you are good at. Start with something you can already do well – even if it’s small. This will give you a positive to build upon.

2. Affirmations
Say positive affirmations to yourself that empower and encourage you. What do you need to hear to feel your best? Focus on how you want to feel. “I am strong. I am loved. I am confident. I accept and trust myself and believe that I can do it!”

3. Growth Mindset
Believe in your ability to learn, grow and improve. Celebrate failure and embrace learning. Look at how far you have come and know that talent isn’t fixed. Chalk it up as experience.

4. Solution Focus
Flip your focus away from the problem and towards the solution. What do you want to achieve? How would you like it to be instead? What can you do to solve it?

5. Self-Love
Give yourself a dose of love and kindness. It starts from within. Treat yourself how you would a loved one or friend. Be supportive, encouraging and appreciative of all you are.

6. Gratitude
Think about all the things that you are grateful for. By shifting your thinking you will start to notice more positives than negatives. There is so much to be appreciative of. Just see it.

7. Being Present
Stay present in the current moment. There is no point worrying about your past or the future. The magic is in the moment. What can you see, hear and feel right now?

8. Reframing
What positives can you take from the situation? Look at it from a different perspective. What can you learn or discover? How can you make this a positive instead? Shift the context.

9. Modelling
Think of someone you know that can do it, does it or is a great example of it. How do they show up and what can you learn from them? Imagine stepping into their shoes and seeing the world through their eyes.
If you want to learn more about teaching this to kids you can grab a copy of my ANTs and PETs PDF. Imagine how amazing it would have been to have learnt this stuff when you were a kid!

About the author:
Emily Harbrecht is a Coach, Trainer and the founder of Mind Tools For Kids. She teaches the tools and strategies kids need to be happy, resilient and confident.

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