Affirmations. They are powerful. Not only do I use affirmations personally, but I also use them with my psychotherapy clients to reduce anxiety, plant seeds of possibility, and present affirmations as a “good news story” my clients can tell themselves.
Affirmations can be a powerful tool for children as well. We can teach children to use affirmations to improve their well-being, boost their self-esteem, and encourage creative thinking.
But don’t worry -- doing affirmations doesn’t always mean standing in front of the mirror and repeating the powerful statements (not too many kids would get excited about that). Instead, try these seven fun and innovative ways of doing affirmations.
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1. Start by affirming them yourself
According to the neuropsychologist, Rick Hanson Ph.D., we all have a negativity bias in the brain. This means we hold onto stressful experiences in our life, including challenges with our children.
Doing this exercise can help you soak up the good in your children, creating a positive buffer against reactivity and negativity in the relationship.
Here’s what to do:
- Take uninterrupted time daily or weekly to look into your children's eyes and affirm them. You can say, ‘You matter. You’re loved. You’re enough.” This is especially valuable for children whose love language is affirmations.
- Concentrate on your child’s presence and personality as opposed to things they do or what you expect. Acknowledging your child’s unique strengths and talents, and what they have taught you, can increase their sense of confidence and belonging.
- End with a long hug to reap the benefits of neurochemicals, like oxytocin, that are released with physical touch. This will help ease stress and anxiety for both you and your child.
2. Create an affirmation board
You can help your child tap into the power of visualization by creating an affirmation board.
Grab a poster board, cork board, or small canvas. Together, draw or find pictures that describe their values, things they want to achieve, and/or who they want to become.
Encourage your kids to include
- positive things they believe about themselves
- their goals
- things they can’t do YET but want to learn
3. Draw affirmations on the mirror
Help your children use sticky notes or washable markers to place or draw affirmations on the mirror. This way, when they look in the mirror, they will see more than their physical appearance. They will be reminded of all the ways they matter and make a difference in this world.
4. Sing your way into a better mood and better health
Have you ever noticed how much more energized and motivated you feel after singing along to a favorite song?
Whether in the shower, in the car, or getting ready in the morning, we use singing to lift our spirits and make things like household chores a lot more fun.
Invite your children to turn their favorite affirmations into songs. They can sing their affirmations to popular tunes OR create their own original songs.
5. Build a treasure chest of goodness
To help offset the negativity bias in their brain, you can help your child learn to treasure themselves.
For this activity, you can use My Mighty Treasure Coins in the Self-Esteem & Confidence Kit.
Follow these steps:
- Buy or build a small wooden treasure chest or, alternatively, use an empty tissue box
- Ask kids to paint and decorate the chest or box with the words “I am” on the top
- Make some coins out of thick card or cardboard that are big enough to write on
- Then, for each coin, children pick out “I am” affirmations and write one on the front side of the coin.
- I am helpful.
- I am kind.
- I am a good friend.
- On the other side of the coins, they write down or draw a picture of a real-life example of when they lived this value. This will help them truly believe these affirmations. For example: “I helped set the table or carried the groceries.”
This could also be a great activity for siblings or classmates as a way to offer each other the gift of affirmations and appreciation. The coins could be displayed on a growth mindset bulletin board at home or in the classroom.
Don't forget to download our FREE Affirmation Bracelets. The affirmation bracelets are great for boosting a child's confidence!
6. Learn from the greatest
We all need mentors and positive role models. Growth mindset helps children see failure as part of the journey, not something to be feared or feel ashamed of.
Use the stories in the Big Life Journal 2nd Edition (ages 7-10) to help children learn from other people's experiences. Our popular journal helps children develop strong Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) and growth mindset skills through inspiring stories, colorful illustrations, and engaging guided activities.
Ask your child what they think these people told themselves or what affirmations they must have used to help them get back up and keep moving towards their goals.
This can also be a great time to practice empathy. Ask children how they think these people felt during their hardest moments and if they can relate to those feelings. You could then invite the children to choose which affirmations they like best and have them start saying or writing the affirmations out or adding them to their vision board, book, or mirror.
7. Ask, "What if?"
Daniel Siegel, Ph.D., author of “The Whole-Brain Child” recommends asking reflective questions to support the development of children’s frontal lobe, which governs executive functioning including planning and reasoning.
Find an adventure book where the main character has a goal and one or more obstacles to overcome.
When reading it together with your child, discuss how the story might change depending on what the character chooses to say to him or herself.
You could also expand on this and discuss how the story would change and how the character would feel depending on what OTHERS say. Discuss what happens when the character believes the affirmations versus the criticism.
The sky’s the limit to how you incorporate affirmations in your home and classroom. When children are struggling, it’s essential we validate their feelings and help them choose affirmations that can be encouraging and useful right now.
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