If affirmations for kids sound like something that’s not for you and your family, think again. Although they are often seen as a “hippy-dippy,” alternative practice, nothing could be further from the truth. Today, those who use affirmations are just as likely to be found in the boardroom as they are in a yoga class.
What exactly are affirmations, how can affirmations benefit kids, and how do they use them appropriately? Let’s take a look.
What Are Affirmations?
Affirmations are short, positive phrases that a person repeats to themselves.
These phrases are intended to overcome negative thoughts and improve self-esteem (1).
Some people believe that by reciting affirmations, you can make things happen. This is known as manifestation.
However, in this article, we will stick to the “positive self-image” aspect of affirmations and leave others to discuss their views on manifestation.
Do Affirmations Really Work?
Unbiased, scientific research shows that, in certain circumstances, affirmations are effective (2). For affirmations to work, they must be practiced on a regular basis.
However, they are not universally helpful. In some cases, if a person is suffering from low self-esteem to begin with, positive affirmations can be harmful.
Benefits of Affirmations for Kids
Depending on their focus and use, affirmations have been proven to be effective in:
- Reducing levels of unhappiness, dissatisfaction, stress, and stress-related physical symptoms.
- Improving levels of physical activity and promoting other positive habits.
- Increasing academic achievement.
- Helping to overcome negative thoughts or patterns of behavior.
- Maintaining focus and perseverance.
How to Use Affirmations for Kids
When turning to affirmations, it’s helpful to know when not to use them. Don’t try to have your child use affirmations when they are in a state of heightened emotion.
Instead, help your child identify when they are most relaxed and suggest they try affirmations then.
You should also be careful to remain realistic and not to overdo it. You can tell your child how much you like a drawing they have done and encourage them to draw more. But don’t become overly gushy and start telling the world that you have a budding Van Gogh.
This will feel false to your child and undermine any other positive affirmations.
Other than simply reciting them together, you can use affirmations for kids in a variety of ways:
- Create a scrapbook or affirmations binder together: Talk with your child about their achievements and positive attributes, then record those things. Encourage your child to look through the scrapbook or binder every day, and any time they are feeling a lack of confidence.
- Make a plan: Sit down together and, using age-appropriate language, ask your child what they want to achieve. Then lay out the steps your child will have to take to reach their goal. Discuss how they can take these steps, what affirmations might help them achieve their goal, and check-in with on-going support.
- Show them: Take the time to tell your child how much they are loved, outside of the usual times you might say this. Leave notes in their lunchbox, on their pillow, or with a favorite toy.
- Use variety: Affirmations are shown to be most effective when they are used in different ways. So, encourage your child to say them aloud, write them down in their own journal and read them.
- Be flexible: Some kids do well by speaking affirmations aloud to themselves in the mirror. Others feel ridiculous or embarrassed doing this but do well by writing their affirmations down, listening to a recording of them, or speaking them to a favorite toy. You can even sing affirmations.
Affirmations for Kids
When choosing and using affirmations for kids, don’t tell your child which affirmations to use. Make suggestions with age-appropriate language and allow your child to use affirmations that resonate with them.
Affirmations that have worked for our children and children we know include:
- I am loved.
- It’s ok to be wrong.
- Mistakes are opportunities to learn.
- To achieve — insert goal here — I must work hard.
- Nobody is perfect.
- People do not start out being good at something. They have to practice and improve.
- I will get there.
- I have friends who enjoy my company.
- Everyone feels anxious sometimes.
- It is ok to be afraid.
- I can make a difference.
- I deserve happiness.
- It is ok to be myself.
- I do not have to change for other people.
- It is ok to say no.
- Life is an opportunity I will not waste.
- It is ok to put my feelings first sometimes.
- I do not have to do things because my friends do.
- Everyone has different strengths.
- I can do it.
- My strength is xxxxx.
- I am good at xxxxx.
- I am wanted.
- Everyone feels lonely sometimes.
- Lonely is not the same as alone.
- I am not alone.
- Today is the day.
- I have people who care about me.
- I can share my problems.
- It is ok to ask for help.
- There is nothing wrong with making mistakes.
- Making bad choices does not make me a bad person.
- I can control my emotions.
- I know when to control my emotions.
- It is ok to be overwhelmed by emotions sometimes.
- Nobody is good at everything.
- I am no more valuable nor any less valuable than anyone else.
- My feelings are valid.
- I am allowed to be upset.
- I do not have to hide my feelings.
- Today will be a positive day.
- I am a positive person.
- I choose to think positive thoughts.
- Problems have solutions.
- Being strong means knowing when to ask for help.
- There is no such thing as a “real” man/woman.
- I deserve my success.
- My hard work has made good things happen.
- I do not have to be good at something to enjoy it.
- Everyone has their own, unique value.
- If friends do not like my personality, I need to find new friends.
- Changing who I am for other people will not make me happy.
- Changing who I am because I want to be a different person is a good thing to do.
- I do not need the approval of other people.
- I will not be pressured into doing things I do not want to do.
- Today is a day that I will be strong.
- I will not do things I know to be wrong, just to “fit in.”
- I will stand up for other people.
- I will be true to myself.
- I will be true to my values and beliefs.
- Problems are challenges by another name.
- I do not have to be a leader.
- I am a leader.
- Happiness is a balance between what I want and considering other people.
- I am a role model for others.
- I will make someone else happy today.
- Difficulties do not last forever.
- I will point out the good in the day.
- I will write down the things for which I am grateful.
- Doing nothing is a choice I will not make.
- I will not set aside who I am because others want me to.
- I will help other people achieve their goals.
- I will support my friends in their positive choices.
- True friends are not afraid to tell each other the truth.
- Today I will be successful.
- I can work through this.
- Good things happen when you work hard.
- Bad days happen for everyone.
- I can get over this.
- It is not the end of the world.
- A setback is not a step back and I will move forward again.
- I enjoy learning new things.
- I can learn in the way that is best for me.
- There is a role for me in the world.
- I do not have to achieve perfection.
- I trust my inner voice.
- I can be relied upon to do the right thing.
- Everyone has a different pace and I can work at mine.
- Things do not make me happy.
- My attitude is my choice.
- People do not make me feel a certain way, I allow myself to feel a certain way in reaction to them.
- My words have the power to do great good, and great harm.
- I am not defined by the opinions of others.
- There is nothing wrong with who and what I am.
- I am strong.
- I am resilient.
- I am enough.
- I dictate my emotions, not other people.
- Giving up is a choice I will not make.
- I will work to become the best version of me I can be.
- I will be mindful.
- I will be patient.
- I will be kind.
Repeat After Me
When you use affirmations correctly, they can give a powerful boost to your child’s overall mental health and self-esteem in particular.
By helping your child find affirmations that resonate with them and techniques they can get behind, you are helping them develop a practice from which they could reap lifelong benefits.