“I am more than my struggles.” Does your child understand this? Positive affirmations can be powerful tools in combating negative thoughts of oneself. The more it is repeated in a child’s mind, the more ingrained in their memory it becomes. Hence, children should be exposed to the concept of positive affirmations at an early stage. A variety of positive affirmations will help them to develop self-confidence and a sense of self-identity.
Positive affirmations are phrases that offer encouragement and reassurance to people. They can build mental resilience during times of hardship, reduce stress levels, and shape a positive mindset. Helping children to develop a habit of practising self-affirmations will be beneficial in the long run. They will be better prepared to face demoralising situations independently and have a deeper sense of self-awareness. Here are some ways to start practising self-affirmations with your child and harness the full power of positive affirmations.
A fun bonding activity and a good way to share life together would be journaling. Before journaling, parents can have frequent heart-to-heart talks with their children, asking them how their children’s day has been while sharing about their own day too. Parents can then probe their children with questions on positive traits or behaviours that their child has shown through their actions during the day, and what it reflects of them. For example, while recounting what happened at school, a child’s reply might be, “I fell down and I cried but I got up again. I am strong.” Parents can encourage children to pen down these thoughts in their journals. Overtime with many journal entries, children develop a habit of affirming themselves. This activity shapes their way of thinking, helps them process their emotions better, while making them become more aware of their good qualities. Parents can join in the activity and make journal entries too. It is important to set an example so that children can learn and follow suit.
Visual Cues on Everyday Objects
With visual cues in their home environment, children are constantly reminded of positive messages. Children can be encouraged to express their self-affirmations in creative ways, through writing on post-it notes, through painting, and sketching. These can be placed around their house or on objects that they typically use to serve as visual cues and reminders. Placing a quick sketch of a heart on the mirror of their bathrooms, for example, can be a good reminder that their self-worth does not come from appearances, that beauty comes from within. This can help to combat any negative train of thoughts that they might have on bad days, from comparing themselves with others on social media, or from receiving criticism on their appearances by others. Other prominent places that parents can encourage their children to place visual cues would be on refrigerators, in their diaries, and on their files or homework folders so that they can look at them while at school.
If children enjoy hands-on activities, encourage them to create a self-affirmation jar for themselves. Everyday, children can think of a positive affirmation for themselves and drop a note about it in the jar. Seeing the jar accumulate quickly with self-affirmations will help the child to see how much they have grown overtime in their personal development and become more confident of themselves.
Reflections on Stories
If there is a particular genre of stories that a child likes, use it to engage with them. Parents can curate storybooks that tell motivational stories, ones that focus on growth and self-development to inspire their children. For example, if a child is drawn to fairytales, parents can find books of this genre with a good plotline that demonstrates the resilient qualities of the main protagonist. After reading every chapter together, parents can have a short reflection with their children and question how the main protagonist felt during crucial parts of the story. Some questions that can be asked include, “How do you think he felt when he did not succeed?”, “If he chose to believe his enemy’s words, would he have succeeded in the end?”, “What do you think he told himself when he was discouraged?”, or “If you were in his situation, what would you have told yourself?” With every question, parents can guide their children’s thought processes to understand the importance of having a positive mindset.
Alternatively, if a child prefers real stories, parents can find non-fictional stories or biographies instead. They can also look up the news to find inspirational stories and use them as case studies for children to examine. “Why do you think she succeeded in opening up her business?”, “What do you think she told herself when other people thought she would fail?”, or “If you were in her position, what would you tell yourself?” are some probing questions that can be posed.
By exposing children to stories like these, they are able to see clearer how everyone encounters difficulties, and that struggles are a part and parcel of life, but some struggles are possible to overcome with a positive mindset. Understanding how positive self-affirmations can help them through difficult times through such reflection practices will help to shape their thought processes for the better.
DIY Affirmation Cards
These come especially in handy when children feel discouraged and need a little pick-me-up. Parents can provide their children with a set of blank cards for them to fill. With each card, children can fill it with positive affirmations to themselves, and they can decorate the cards however they like. “I am capable of anything”, or “I am good no matter what people tell me” can be some examples. These cards can be stored in card holders and taken out to look at with convenience. With these cards accessible at any time of the day, children are more equipped to remind themselves of their worth and how important they are during times where they struggle to see it.
It is important to teach children about positive self-affirmations, but it is just as important to give children enough affirmations for them to grow in self-confidence and have a grounded identity of themselves. Whenever your child has done something well, remember to affirm him or her too!