Can I boost my kids’ self-esteem and confidence by them practicing positive affirmations?
There is an undeniable attractiveness to the “positive affirmations” concept. The possibility of being able to rewire your brain so that you overwrite negative thoughts and turn them into positive self-talk is a powerful proposition.
There is however controversy about how effective positive affirmations really are. Plenty of research backs the effectiveness of this self-esteem boosting tool. But, as always in research, there are a number of factors that influence the outcome.
Table of Contents
- What are Positive Affirmations
- Benefits of Affirmations
- Can Positive Self-Statements Backfire?
- How Does Positive Self-Talk Work
- How to Practice Positive Affirmations
- The Ultimate Guide to Positive Affirmations for Kids
- How can they help kids
- Are there times when they may be especially useful?
- How to explain positive self-talk to your kids
- How to practice affirmations with your kids: 17 Helpful Tips for Families
- 130+ daily affirmations for kids + FREE printable (at the end of this post)
- the affirmations list includes self-esteem/self-love, anxious kids, anger control, morning and night routines, positive energy, students before exams, and friendship and family
- Research on Positive Self-Statements
What Are Positive Affirmations?
Positive affirmations are positive statements that we tell ourselves for self-motivation or to challenge negative thoughts.
Self-affirmation theory (Claude M. Steele) asserts that we are motivated to maintain the integrity of the self. When our self-competence is threatened, our self-system moves to restore our sense of self-worth. Reflecting on sources of self-worth, such as core values (even if those values are irrelevant to the threat itself) can help us restore the sense of self-competence.
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What Are the Benefits of Positive Affirmations?
Research suggests that self-affirmation can help:
- Mitigate the effects of stress
- Improve your self-esteem
- Enhance positive mood
- Reduce depressive rumination
- Cope with a psychological threat
- Enhance sports performance
- Promote social pro-social behaviors
- Improve problem-solving abilities under stress
- Improve performance on tasks related to executive functioning
- Combat stereotype threat
- Accept threatening information
This is just to mention some of them (I´ll be linking to a number of research resources at the end of the post)
But here is the twist.
Research has also found that practicing affirmations may “backfire”. People with low self-esteem problems may feel worse when practicing this type of positive self-talk.
How may this happen?
There is a clear reason. When the person practicing positive affirmations has low self-esteem, those statements create a “cognitive dissonance”. A mental discomfort caused by contradictory beliefs.
As the new statement contradicts your deep beliefs your mind just disregards that information. And, what is worse, that contradictory statement may just make you focus more on your negative beliefs.
How Do Affirmations Work?
When our sense of self-competence is threatened, self-affirmations can help restore the sense of self-competence by allowing us to reflect on sources of self-worth, such as core values.
Focusing on our values and other important aspects of our lives, help us realize that our self-worth will not be affected by that specific threat. It is a coping mechanism that helps us protect our sense of personal integrity.
How to Practice Positive Affirmations
Tips to start practicing affirmations (these are general tips for adults, keep on reading and you will find specific tips for kids in the next section):
- Write them down
- Formulate affirmations in the first person: “I am…”
- Write them in the present tense.
- Phrase them in a positive vs a negative way
- Repeat them regularly
- Repeat them when a negative thought intrudes
- Prepare affirmations that link to your personal goals and to ways to achieve them
- Find the practice method that best works for you:
- repeating them aloud
- writing them down and reading them to yourself (these affirmations worksheets are great for the little ones)
- looking at your reflection in the mirror while saying the affirmations
- linking your affirmations to visualization of how you will achieve your objectives
- keeping a gratitude journal where you write down your affirmations
- creating affirmation cards that you randomly extract and repeat
- practicing just when a difficult situation presents (worry, anxiety, fear of failure)
The Ultimate Guide to Positive Affirmations for Kids
The importance of developing a positive sense of self during the childhood years can´t be emphasized enough. During childhood, kids develop their belief systems. And it will influence them throughout their lives.
It is not a surprise then, that lots of people have turned to affirmations as one more strategy to help kids develop a positive sense of self.
I am personally not too worried about how effective this specific exercise is. But I have my special reasons to add it to our fun family activities:
- I want to be intentional about promoting positive self-talk
- I want my kids to think about how wonderful they are
- I have a kid with special needs. I want to be ready for the day reality hits him and he realizes the number of things others do that he can´t. When that day comes, I want him to be absolutely confident that we love him exactly the way he is, that he has amazing qualities and gifts and that he is very aware of his special talents.
Related: Positive Affirmations Worksheets for Kids (Letter Tracing)
How can positive affirmations help kids?
There are a number of benefits to practicing this activity:
- Building a positive mindset
- Being reminded of how wonderful and loved they are
- Developing a can-do attitude
- Helping develop or improve positive self-esteem
- Focusing on their strengths and their positives
- Understanding that mistakes are good and are a great tool for learning
Also, research has shown that kids with a positive sense of self are less likely to bully or be bullied by others.
Are There Times When Positive Self-Talk is Especially Useful?
There are moments in our kids’ lives when affirmations may be an especially useful tool.
Your kids may benefit from an intentional approach to positive self-talk when they:
- Are transitioning into adolescence, and peer comments may influence/affect them more
- Have a tendency to focus on negatives
- Are prone to saying or thinking negative things about themselves
- Have anxious or intrusive thoughts
- Are very critical /harsh on themselves
Just remember the warning I mentioned at the beginning. If your kid has low self-esteem, it is important to do this the right way.
Keep on reading for my special tips.
How to Explain What Positive Self-Talk is to Your Kids
If you want your kids to engage in this activity, you obviously need to explain to them why this could be not just fun but also beneficial.
“Affirmations teach you how to think in positive ways. They help you believe in yourself. They can help you feel better when you are sad, angry or anxious”
How to Practice Positive Affirmations with Kids: 17 Beginner Tips for Families
1. Make them a fun family activity
2. Don´t push them if they don’t feel like doing them
3. Be a role model. Show them how you practice them and in which situations they help you.
4. As a warming up exercise, you may ask them to write a list of things they like about themselves. And also prepare a list of things you love about them. It will help them come up with lots of ideas.
5. Let them phrase them the way they prefer. Affirmations are usually stated in the first person, but I feel that may be a bit of a stretch for smaller kids.
6. Go beyond just writing them/repeating them:
- Write love/positive notes that they will find in unexpected places (a book they are reading, their pillow, their lunchbox, in the mailbox – note: you know your kid better than anybody else and will know and learn how to do this. My daughter was actually embarrassed that her peers would see my little “I love you note” in her lunchbox)
7. I don´t do them every day But I have them on display so that they can go to them if they need a reminder
8. Keep them realistic (to avoid going against their deep beliefs) but optimistic
9. Try formulating them as “ I…because” so that you can use them to challenge negative beliefs or an action plan for their goals.
For example, instead of “I´m great at sports” “I will manage to climb a rope because I will practice every day.
10. Phrase them in positive: “I am a great boy” instead of “I am not a bad boy”
11. Find the way to practice affirmations that best works for your kids:
- Practice them aloud or just self-talk in their heads
- Practice daily or less often
- Writing them down and put them up on display so that they can work as visual reminders
- Creating a binder that they can keep themselves or that is easy to access
- Articulate them as a gratitude journal (more on gratitude activities for kids)
12. Prepare positive affirmation rocks (Related: Gratitude rocks for kids/ How to use them, tips & tutorials)
13. Identify a time of the day when it may work better to practice affirmations (probably a quiet time
14. Remember that creating routines around new activities always help stick to them, so you may initially want to do that.
15. Tailor them to what your child needs.
I´ve read affirmation examples that state things like “I´m the smartest boy” “I´m the best at sports”. I actually don´t like that type of statement. It puts pressure on performance. I rather focus on celebrating hard work, effort, progress, and values. My eldest kid has special needs. For us, writing “I can read” or “I am great at writing the shopping list” is a celebration of achievements.
16. Try letter tracing affirmations worksheets for younger kids, or for those with fine motor skills issues or special needs. It’s never too early to start. And fine motor skills issues have not stopped us!
17. Try hand-lettering affirmations. It’s another fun way to practice affirmations.
Let me share now, some inspirational self-statements for kids:
133 powerful affirmations (includes self-statements for kids struggling with anxiety and anger control)
130+ Positive Affirmations for Kids
This daily affirmations list may help you as an inspiration if you are looking for positive words for your kids or students.
But remember, it is about them coming up with these positive statements about themselves and writing them down.
Don’t forget to grab your free printable positive affirmations for kids at the end of this post!
I’ve organized these daily affirmations and positive phrases in themes so that it is easier for you to find the ones you wish to practice with your kids or students.
In the sections below, you will find the following daily affirmations:
- Self-Esteem & Self-Love Affirmations for Kids
- Morning Routine Affirmations for Kids
- Motivation / Growth Mindset Affirmations
- Affirmations about Friendship and Family
- Positivity / Positive Thinking Affirmations
- Night Time / Nice Dreams Affirmations for Kids
- Affirmations for Anger Control
- Positive Affirmations for Anxious Kids
Self-Esteem Affirmations / Self-Love Mantras for Kids
Examples of daily affirmations to help kids work on their self-love, confidence, self-esteem, and positive self-image:
- I love myself, I´m a great boy/girl
- I love myself exactly the way I am
- My family loves me. Or even adores me!
- My family loves me exactly the way I am
- I am a kind person
- I am polite
- I am generous
- I am trustworthy
- I am very special
- I am patient
- I am enough
- I am unique
- I am smart
- I am capable
- I am brave
- I’m talented
- I am optimistic
- I am cool
- I am blessed
- I am resilient
- I am fearless
- I am valued
- I have a great sense of humor
- I am fun to be with
- I am proud of myself
- I have special talents
- I have an amazing imagination
- I have a great memory
- I come up with great ideas
- I am very good at learning languages
- I am beautiful inside and outside
Affirmations for Morning Routine
Examples of morning affirmations for kids that we can include in their daily routine to help them start the day with a great attitude:
- I am going to have a great day!
- I am going to be happy today.
- Today will be full of new opportunities
- I’m going to have fun with my friends today
- I’m ready to enjoy my day
- I’ll work hard today
- I will learn something useful today
- I’m excited about today
- I feel restful and energized
- I’m ready for some action
- Today, I’ll be gentle with myself
- I’m feeling full of energy
- I can deal with anything today brings
Affirmations for Kids: Motivation / Growth Mindset
Examples of growth mindset affirmations to keep our kids motivated:
- I love learning new things
- Every day, I am a little bit wiser.
- I am going to learn something interesting today
- My teachers like me and want to help me learn and become the best person I can be
- I am to be a better person every day
- I learn from my mistakes. They teach me valuable lessons
- I learn more from a mistake than from a success
- Challenges help me become even wiser!
- I am a problem solver. I like to look for solutions
- My mistakes don’t define me
- I work hard
- I persist until I reach my objectives
- I’m always willing to learn
- My opinion matters
- I create my own success
- My inner strength helps me cope with anything
- My unique perspective deserves to be heard
- My thoughts matter
- My feelings matter
- I am unstoppable
- I am always growing
- I will overcome this situation
- It’s okay to mess up. It happens to everybody.
- Failure is just one step toward success
11 Positive Affirmations for Anxious Kids
Examples of positive statements for kids who struggle with anxiety and worry:
- I can control how my thoughts make me feel
- I can control my emotions
- I can change bad thoughts into good thoughts
(negative thoughts into positive thoughts)
- Today I´m going to have a great day
- I am feeling relaxed
- I am going to be happy today
- I do my breathing exercises and I manage to control my anxiety
- I feel anxious but I can cope with the situation
- I am feeling calmer
- I can overcome my fears
- I will let worry go
Affirmations about Friendship and Family
Examples of friendship and family affirmations to remind our kids how great they are:
- I am a good brother/sister
- I am a good son/daughter
- I am a good friend
- I am helpful. I help with household chores
- I am helpful. I like to help my classmates.
- I care about others
- I am valued
- I am a loyal friend
- I am thankful for good friends
- I’m going to have fun with my friends today
Affirmations for Positivity / Positive Thinking
Examples of positive thinking affirmations to help kids get rid of negative self-talk and focus on positive attitude and happy thoughts.
- I am grateful for the good things in my life
- I make things happen when I work towards my goals
- I make my dreams come true when I plan and work towards them
- I make good decisions
- I love my life!
- I believe in myself
- I am a good vibes person
- I am enthusiastic
- I will overcome this situation
- I feel motivated
- I am awesome
- I can feel good things coming up
- I can feel positivity rising up my system
- I am a can-do person
- I can always find the positive side of things
Affirmations for Kids for Night Time / Nice Dreams
- I had an awesome day today
- I learned something new today
- I’m going to give my body a nice rest
- I’ll have beautiful dreams tonight
- I am thankful for the good things that happened today
- I am ready to recharge my energy
- I feel safe in my dreams
Affirmations for Kids for Anger Control
- I can control my temper
- I can express my anger without hurting others
- I can use my inside voice to express my anger
- I can express my anger with respect
- I will take my time to calm down
- I will take deep breaths to calm down
- I can fix what is bothering me
- I will look for solutions
- I am responsible for my anger
- I will burn my negative energy with exercise
- I will think about my happy place
- I will think about something that makes me happy
- I choose to change my angry thoughts
Affirmations for Students Before an Exam
- I’ve studied for this test and I’m well prepared
- I will pass this test
- Tests are kind of fun and can show how much I’ve learned
- Deep breathing relaxes me and helps me think better
- It’s not about the result; it’s about learning useful things
- I am a great student
- I will focus and nail the exam
- I will achieve my goals
- I will feel relaxed while I take my test
Free Printable 130+ Positive Affirmations for Kids
I´ve converted this list into a beautiful printable PDF that you can put up on a wall or stick to your fridge for inspiration. (UPDATED TO 133 POSITIVE AFFIRMATIONS & NEW DESIGN)
Research about Positive Affirmations or Positive Self-Statements
- Self-Affirmation Improves Problem-Solving under Stress – Plos One
- Self-affirmation increases self-compassion and pro-social behaviors- Frontiers in Psychology
- Self-affirmation may be an effective way to stop ruminative thinking- APA PsycNET
- Self-affirmation as a deliberate coping strategy: The moderating role of choice – Science Direct
- Self-affirmation improves performance on tasks related to executive functioning – Journal of Experimental Social Psychology
- Combating stereotype threat: The effect of self-affirmation on women’s intellectual performance –Journal of Experimental Social Psychology
- Accepting Threatening Information: Self–Affirmation and the Reduction of Defensive Biases – SAGE Journals
And an article that highlights those situations in which practicing positive self-talk may backfire:
- Positive Self-Statements: Power for Some, Peril for Others – SAGE Journals
Interesting Related Articles on Building Self-Esteem:
- How to Build Confidence in Kids: Fun Self-Esteem Activities for Kids & Teens
- Actionable Tips to Teach Positive Self-Talk to Kids
Positive Affirmations for Kids: A Powerful Tool for Self-Esteem & Positive Mindset