Supporting your child’s emotional growth is more important than ever. The good news is, parents don’t have to be experts to help their kids develop the social-emotional skills they need to thrive. In fact, there are numerous tools readily available and easy to teach. One such tool that kids can learn and practice is affirmations. Discover how creating a healthy habit of positive self-talk and using affirmation son a daily basis can empower your child, boost their self-confidence, and foster resiliency.

What are positive affirmations for kids?

Positive affirmations are positive statements that are encouraging and motivational. Kids can receive positive affirmations from others, like their parents or teachers (“I believe in you”), and they can learn to use them in their self-talk (“I believe in myself”). Encouraging affirmations that you say to yourself are a type of positive self-talk that can be done anywhere, anytime. Typically, affirmations for kids involve simple scripted phrases that are either general or specific to a particular behavior. For example, a child who is struggling with anxiety might use a positive phrase like “I can do hard things” while a child who is struggling with anger might say “I can stay calm and in control” when faced with a challenge.

Affirmations for kids can be done in a variety of ways. Depending on your child, they may want to say their affirmations silently using their inner voice, visualize their affirmations, say them out loud in front of a mirror, or maybe even write down a few encouraging words they can glance at from time to time. Positive affirmations can be said as needed or as part of a daily routine. Morning affirmations are a great way to start the day with a healthy dose of self-compassion and positivity.

Why are affirmations important for children?

The messages we send ourselves are very impactful and play a significant role in our happiness, motivation, and overall well-being. They influence the way we feel about ourselves and the world around us. In therapy, one of the most common and effective types of work is called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT focuses on how thought patterns and self-talk influence your emotional and behavioral state. It is particularly important for children to adopt a positive mindset as their brains are growing and developing.

Kids who have a more positive outlook are generally happier and better equipped to handle stress. Affirmations not only boost self-esteem and promote a growth mindset, but they also help combat intrusive negative thoughts and those pesky Automatic Negative Thoughts (A.N.T.s). For this reason, affirmations are a powerful tool for kids who are struggling to manage emotions. If your child is prone to negative thinking, never fear! We can train our brains to think more positively.

Children’s brains have more plasticity than adults, making it much easier for them to learn and adapt. By teaching your kids the language of self-love and confidence early on you are empowering them to reach their full potential. Kids who actively fill their minds with positive thoughts and practice a growth mindset are more willing to try something difficult and persevere. Not to mention, having a positive mindset
creates a ripple effect that can be felt in all areas of life. For kids, this means at home, at school, and in their relationships with others.

Do positive affirmations help to manage anxiety?

Positive affirmations can be an excellent tool for navigating anxiety. For example, if your child experiences social anxiety, they may have some unhelpful thought patterns contributing to their discomfort in social situations. Perhaps they’ve developed a pattern of negative self-talk surrounding the idea of going back to school.

Messages like “No one will want to be my friend” or “I won’t know what to say” could be looming in the background. In this case, the negative self-talk can be positively re-framed into a helpful affirmations such as “I am kind and fun, others would be lucky to have me as a friend” or “It’s okay if I don’t know what to say, I can take my time.” Affirmations can also help retrain the anxious brain. If your child is having an anxious moment, they can learn to use a positive affirmation to help them regain control and balance. Some affirmations include stating a helpful coping strategy such as “I can take deep breaths and stay in control.” With practice, kids can begin to recognize the signs that anxiety is inching in and use a positive affirmation to keep it at bay. Positive self-talk isn’t a magical solution that will completely eliminate anxiety, but affirmations can certainly empower children by unraveling negative thought patterns, improving self-esteem, and supporting emotional regulation. Learn more about how to use positive self-talk to overcome anxiety here.

How do you teach and explain affirmations to children?

Parents can empower their children and support social-emotional learning by teaching them about affirmations and how to use them. It might be helpful to first have your child notice their thoughts and how certain thoughts make them feel. There isn’t a “right” and “wrong” way to feel, however some feelings and thought patterns serve us better than others. While we can’t always control the curve-balls life throws our way, we can change the way we think about them. Explain to your child that with a little practice and flexing of their mental muscles, they can choose positive thinking as much as possible.

Using playful language and a light-hearted tone can make this topic more approachable for children. Introducing kids to affirmations in a fun and engaging way is definitely encouraged. For example, ask your child to think about the types of things you would say to a friend if you were trying to encourage them or help them feel good. A great rule of thumb is to only say things to yourself that you would say to someone you love or care about. And when those pesky A.N.T.s start to creep their way in you can tell them to “bug” off and use a positive affirmation instead. Perhaps you can turn some of your child’s favorite affirmations into a song, or designate a thinking cap. When you put the thinking cap on, only positive thoughts are allowed in.

Creating a bulletin board of positive affirmations, quotes, and inspiring visuals could be another fun activity for the family to try. Teach your kids to be patient and gentle with themselves by practicing self-care yourself. Send a powerful message by letting them catch you doing affirmations using positive self-talk when you need it.

Examples of affirmations for kids

Short and simple positive phrases often work best for kids. Giving your child space to come up with their own phrases can be a powerful tool. Keep in mind that specific affirmations that focus on personality and strengths work best. For example, if your child struggles with self-confidence, have them come up with three things they like about themselves, e.g. “I am kind. I am hardworking. I am funny.” If they have a hard time thinking of qualities, it might be helpful to have a list of words handy to choose from. There are numerous resources available digitally, from lists of affirmations for kids, to free printable affirmation cards. Here are a few example affirmations to get you started:

  • I am strong
  • I believe in myself
  • My feelings matter
  • I am calm
  • I choose to feel happy
  • My brain is powerful
  • I can do hard things
  • There is only one me in the world
  • I am enough
  • I am loved

Affirmations for kids cultivate a habit of positive thinking and self-love that has far-reaching positive effects. Kids are never too young to start learning tools that will nurture their mental health and elevate their self-worth.