Talk to yourself…and be nice!


Mexican Bean Beetles in adult and larval stages

Some kids love bugs. Some kids…not so much. What I find so amazing  is the power of our thoughts.

The other day, a new student (second time in class) was asked to harvest beans. We learned the first time Jack was  in program that he had a terrible fear of all things bug. Now, of course we have a horrible infestation of Mexican Bean Beetles. (Small digression: Why do I say “of course?” Only because the bean beetle is number 12 on our list of “14 Bad Bugs” that our garden has endured this summer.)

Back to the moment: I was working with a few students near the shed when Jack came towards me, his gait a mix of walking and running. As he got closer I noticed his lips moving and even closer, I heard him repeating “I can do it, I can do it, I can do it.” I asked Jack what was going on and he told me urgently that he needed gloves. It clicked for me that Jack had just discovered that the beans he was about to harvest had also become a hot spot for bean beetles. Rather than give up and go “screaming into the night,” (slight exaggeration and not the norm in the garden) Jack was encouraged by staff to grab a pair of gloves and try to keep working.

Jack used a powerful coping tool: self-talk. And it worked.


Yummm, purple string beans!

Sometimes we are our own worst enemies. The track inside our minds might not be filled with the most positive thoughts or feelings about ourselves, our surroundings, our lives. But, by using mantras, affirmations, positive self-talk, whatever you want to call it, we can change how we perceive ourselves, our situations, our lives. It allowed Jack to move past his fear of bugs, harvest (and eat) some really delicious string beans and have a positive experience participating in class and being part of a group. Good moment.


About Green Chimneys Garden

Green Chimneys was founded on the belief that children will benefit from their interaction with nature and animals. Horticulture comes to life in our educational school gardens, allowing Green Chimneys students to heal, learn, and grow. Learn more about about our nature-based approach to special education by visiting
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