As important as it is for parents to encourage, love and support their children, it is just as important that children learn to create these positive emotions within themselves. It is very empowering for a child to create positive thoughts and feelings of self-worth, so it is much harder for people to tear them down.
As our children learn behaviours and wire their brain, affirmations are very effective in nurturing wellbeing in childhood. Affirming positive messages are like acts of kindness and love towards themselves that build self-esteem and self-belief which will stay with them throughout their life.
We all develop our belief systems about ourselves and the world around us from our environment. Our family and friends, role models, television, magazines, and advertising can either be nurturing or damaging. It is essential that we learn to take control of our beliefs and the younger that we learn, the easier it is. It can be as simple as affirming the positive beliefs that we would like to grow up with. Negative beliefs can impact our lives greatly and can be hard to shift as we grow older.
Affirmations are a powerful and holistic way of building a positive mind and happy children. Nurturing their authentic self and helping them to enjoy the magic of childhood.
What are affirmations?
Affirmations are positive phrases or statements that you say to yourself to challenge unhelpful or negative thoughts. You may choose positive affirmations to motivate yourself, encourage positive changes or boost your self-esteem. If you often find yourself getting caught up in negative self-talk, positive affirmations can be used to assist you. You can train your brain to think in a more positive and beneficial way to promote wellbeing.
Put simply, an affirmation is to affirm to one’s self. Positive words that are absorbed by the mind to create your belief system.
“Affirmation takes advantage of our reward circuits, which can be quite powerful. Many studies have shown that these circuits can do things like dampen pain and help us maintain balance in the face of threats.”
- Christopher Cascio, PhD.
How do affirmations work?
Once affirmations are learned, they work by coming to mind when a belief is challenged.
If your affirmation is "I am wonderful just the way I am", and you are told you are stupid, the affirmation will be recalled remind you of your belief. Instead, you will think, "I’m not stupid, I am wonderful!”
Without a positive belief, you may take on the one you just heard and start to believe that you are stupid. The more an affirmation is repeated, positive or negative, the stronger it becomes.
It is important that we learn to take control of our belief systems and the younger that we learn, the easier it is. It can be as simple as affirming the positive beliefs that we would like to grow up with. Negative beliefs can impact our lives greatly and can be hard to shift as we grow older.
Affirmations are a powerful and holistic way of building a positive mind and happier children. Nurturing their authentic self and helping them to enjoy the magic of childhood.
The evidence behind positive affirmations
One of the key psychological theories is ‘self-affirmation theory’ (Steele 1988). There are studies that show that we can maintain our self-esteem and integrity by telling ourselves – affirming, positive thoughts. The development of this theory has led to neuroscientific research, aimed at seeing changes in the brain when we say affirmations. There is MRI evidence that shows certain neural pathways are increased in the prefrontal cortex when people practice self-affirmations.
What is also noted is the effect they have on your mood and feelings. They are a simple tool that can literally turn around your habitual negative thoughts. Affirmations can assist you with self-regulation, self-worth, self-awareness, and self-confidence.
Saying positive phrases to yourself can also help you move through tricky situations. “I can do this!”
What we think about ourselves, is how we develop
If we feel we are worthless, we will behave like we are worthless. If we believe that we are special and loved, we will behave like we are special and loved.
This is why affirmations are so important to help children develop positive foundations on which to grow. Once we have matured, it is hard to change those foundations.
Affirmations also provide us with the opportunity to learn to look at ourselves in the mirror. This is the most effective way to say an affirmation and learning to do this as a child makes it much easier to do. Many of us find it quite confronting to look ourselves in the eyes, let alone say “I love you” as we do.
Why we need to be kind to ourselves
This leads to the next benefit of affirmations. They teach us positive self-talk, to speak to ourselves with kindness. As we grow, we can develop a habit of criticising ourselves, harming our own self-confidence and lowering our resilience. For children to learn positive self-talk from a young age, helps prevent self-criticism, as a strong and positive belief system has already been created from within.
As bullying is such a huge issue that many children face at some time, self-confidence is the very thing that will help them deal from these situations. Keeping a positive mind is essential. This can be really difficult when children are dealing with anti-social behaviour. By developing positive mental pathways, children are more resilient and self-assured, coping much better than if they had a low self-esteem.
Many children who bully lack confidence, feel a need to belittle others to make themselves feel better and more in control. Children with a positive self-image feel less inclined to bully others. Uniting a class with a quick two-minute affirmation at the start of a school day could make the world of difference to troubled children.
Creating an inner confidence as children can shape our whole life. Every aspect of our life is affected by our self-confidence. It affects our ability to learn and participate at school, socially, creatively, our relationships, achieving our goals and dreams, and most importantly our standards. With little self-confidence, we often lower our standards or ‘settle’ for what we believe is achievable.
Just a few positive words spoken to ourselves each day can, amazingly, make such a difference to our whole body, our mind, our heart and physically too. There is much research on how the heart and mind are wired to communicate and how a happy and positive mind can improve overall health.
Make today the day that you try affirmations with your children. Helping them to shine with confidence as the unique individuals that they are.
Introducing your children to affirmations
Affirmations can be implemented into your daily routines very easily. Only taking a few minutes each day.
It is a good idea to talk to your children about using affirmations so they understand what they are for and how they work. Keep it fun and encouraging. “Affirmations teach you new and positive ways of thinking. They can help you believe in yourself, feel happy and help you to feel better when you are angry or sad. Let’s try them and see what we think!” "Affirmations encourage kind and happy ways of thinking, you will remember them when you need them most."
Another way to introduce affirmations to your children is to place affirmation cards around the house in areas that they will see them. Just reading the words will help them affirm positive beliefs. On the mirror in the bathroom is a great spot or on the breakfast table.
It will also help if you were to lead by example and read the affirmations as well. You may like to do your affirmations together. You may find that this allows you the chance to discuss emotions or issues that they may be experiencing, opening doors for conversation. Working together on your affirmations may just have you shine together.
Looking in the mirror
One of the most valuable lessons affirmations offer, is being comfortable looking at yourself in the mirror and learning positive self-talk (talking to yourself with kindness and positivity). Many of us find it hard to look at our reflection without being critical, judgmental, or negative about ourselves.
Affirmations are the most powerful when we say the words to ourselves whilst looking into a mirror. These positive words are literally building our own self-belief. Young children introduced to this concept feel more comfortable and far less confronted looking at themselves in the mirror. If you find that your children feel it is difficult to look into the mirror to say their affirmations, it is best not to push them. Affirmations are still very effective by just reading the words aloud to yourself. Children that are visually impaired will use this technique.
Affirmations are more effective when repeated and it's best to repeat an affirmation 3 times, saying the words louder and with more confidence each time. This helps affirm the belief. You may like to work on one affirmation a day or one a week, depending on how confident your child is with each affirmation. If they seem to struggle with an affirmation you may like to continue working on that one longer.
You could also take a little time to discuss the affirmation and how your child feels about it. Perhaps even write a long list of their qualities to help boost their confidence and help them to recognize their values. Some children may prefer to work on the affirmations on their own and this is ok too.
It is important to show respect for your child and their feelings and not to push them too hard if they're feeling uncomfortable. Positive affirmations should always be introduced in a fun and exciting way. Use them to help children be the best that they can be and to nurture happy and positive feelings.
Never should affirmation cards be used for punishment, in time out, or in relation to any bad behaviour. As affirmations are such a wonderful tool, it is important not to bring a negative tone to them.
Children using affirmations under the age of 5 or 6 when they're not yet reading, can be read the words by their parents for them to repeat. This works very well and affirmations used at this age create strong and healthy foundation.
AUTHOR: Roxanne Wilkins - Nurture Cards
Roxy created Nurture Cards in 2009 after her own personal and family struggles with her young children. As she saw other young children suffering with low self-confidence, bullying, negative self-image, anxiety, effects of divorce or unhappy family dynamics, she wanted to create a tool to help them through these tough times.
Nurture Cards are used worldwide by children, counsellors, therapists, primary teachers, early childhood centres, disability services and much more. I also have other resources for improving sleep and self-esteem.
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