Embrace the Challenge! Moving Away from Self-Doubt to Self-Efficacy

Let’s face it. Life challenges are unavoidable. As humans, we collectively experience moments in our day-to-day lives where we are asked to take on a task that may feel challenging. How do we show up for ourselves when we are faced with a challenge? In this lesson, we will look at identifying limiting beliefs and self-doubt that may creep in when we feel challenged and how to transform these limiting beliefs in order to learn, grow, and find success even through our most difficult times of struggle. 

Elementary Lesson


  1. Ask students to raise their hand if they have never experienced anything in their life that felt challenging (chances are, no student will raise their hand). “If we look around the room, we can see that everyone here has experienced a time where we have been asked to complete a task, whether at school or home, that has felt challenging.”  
  2. Watch the video labeled “Growth Mindset for students - Episode 1/5.” While students are watching, students can look to identify Mojo’s challenge and what beliefs hurt and help him with working through his challenge.
  1. Discuss the questions as a group at the end of the video: 
    • Can Mojo become smarter? Why do you think this?
    • Do you have the ability to become smarter? How?
  2. Draw a two-column table on the board or chart paper - on the left side, write “Hurtful Statements/Beliefs” and “Helpful Beliefs/Statements.” Have students share examples for each column and write them down on the board. 
  3.  “When we are faced with a challenge, we may experience self-doubt as Mojo did and tell ourselves limiting beliefs such as, “I’m not smart enough for this.” These thoughts are normal, and everyone experiences self-doubt from time to time. But just as we heard in the video, we have the power to change how we feel and think about ourselves when we face something that is difficult.  

3. Students will complete the following handout as an activity.

When finished, have students share one helpful statement that they will use next time when experiencing a challenge.

Secondary Lesson


  1. Have students watch this video:
  1. After the video, state the following to your class. “When we are faced with a challenge, our minds can stray to unhelpful thoughts that are limited and actually impede us from what we want to accomplish. We can follow three simple steps when this occurs in order to help our limited beliefs into statements that are beneficial for our well-being. These three steps are:
    1. Observe- pay attention to your thoughts when challenges arise. Notice what comes up for you.
    2. Identify- decide if these thoughts are helpful or hurtful in accomplishing the challenging task or situation.
    3. Re-frame- change the limited belief into a statement that will support you. 
  2. Activity- Students will complete the following handout. When they are done, have them share with someone else their positive self-talk statement they will use when faced with their next challenge.

Teacher Tips

Words are powerful! It may be helpful to share with students a personal story of a time when limited beliefs/statements did not help you work through a challenging situation. This can easily be modeled by thinking aloud in real-time when you encounter a challenge during the school day. If students are familiar with the term “growth mindset,” this lesson ties nicely with this concept.