Being a kid isn’t easy and often the conditioning and beliefs we create as children are responsible for the emotional baggage we lug around as adults. Negative messages from parents, teachers and other adults (even well-meaning ones) can sow the seeds for false beliefs and self-doubt. Messages like “don’t be upset” or “you mustn’t cry” discredit the difficult emotions that are a normal part of our human experience, and install the message in our children that only happy emotions are welcome or even valid.
How often do you find yourself distracting your child when they’re upset about something, or try to cheer them up when they are struggling with a feeling that you find too difficult to connect with? Even though as parents we try our best to offer our children emotional security and availability, it’s frequently tripped up by the fact that we may have not had that modelled in our own childhood, making it harder to implement now that it’s our turn.
Negative messages from parents, teachers and other adults (even well-meaning ones) can sow the seeds for false beliefs and self-doubt
One of the reasons I created my kids range of YESMUM cards (yesmumMINI) was to introduce the benefit of affirmations at an early age, so that the use of positive language and emotional mindfulness becomes a normal part of daily life. The cards offer a quick, straightforward way for your child to access the power of positive programming and start each day with strength and self-assurance; building empathy, resilience and compassion (for themselves and towards others) along the way.
The idea would be to place the pack on their bedside table and encourage them to turn a new card over each morning, read aloud five times and embrace for the rest of their day. Alternatively, keep the pack on the breakfast table to inspire a discussion about everyone’s feelings as the day kicks off.
The idea is to offer a quick, straightforward way for your child to access the power of positive programming and start each day with strength and self-assurance
For younger children, you could explain that they are cards for strength, and that if they say them often enough they’ll have the power to become true. For older children they can be used for specific issues, so if they’re having a hard time learning a new skill or with homework, pick out “I can do difficult things” and encourage them to recite it until they feel more capable and calm.
A simple habit of positive thoughts will help establish a happy mindset, and this will directly affect the way your child experiences the world around them. The more they tell themselves something, the more they will believe it, and ultimately the more they will live by it.
I’ve picked out five of my favourite cards and talked a little about the message behind them…
“I am a good friend to myself and others”
This card promotes self love and appreciation at the heart of other relationships. In order to give the best of ourselves to others, it’s so important that we learn to nurture ourselves first.
When we feel loved and accepted by ourselves, we can offer that love to those around us, and whilst this could prove a tricky concept to explain to kids, asking what a good friend is and then encouraging them to apply it to themselves is a great place to start.
Of course it’s important that we model that for them, too, so instead of saying yes to everyone at our own expense, it’s important to demonstrate healthy boundaries and a loving routine and example of self-care.
“I don’t need to copy others because I enjoy being myself”
Thanks to the advertising we’re surrounded by, the idea of following the crowd and fitting in is rife in Western culture from an early age, and I think originality and authenticity are really wonderful traits to nurture in our children.
Identifying what’s different between themselves and their peers can be just as empowering and enlightening as noting similarities. What do they bring to the party that makes them unique, special and an asset to their peers?
“I am a winner”
Because what kid isn’t, right? Encourage your child to think about what they’re the best at and don’t underestimate the power of you child saying this out loud to themselves. It could be telling jokes, giving cuddles, making the tastiest cakes or doing killer cartwheels – never be afraid to praise them for being GREAT.
“It’s okay for me to say how I feel”
I think this is one of my favourite affirmations. So often we see happiness being encouraged and sadness being brushed under the carpet or distracted from, and I think as parents we need to be really mindful of not going down this route, even if it’s what we had modelled by our parents.
Nurturing and helping your child to articulate difficult feelings like anger, sadness, frustration and confusion means you’re providing a safe arena in which these feelings can sit and be shared, rather than your child having to keep them all to themselves. When children share feelings of vulnerability with us, we have the opportunity to help them navigate the trickier emotions of being human, and what a wonderfully empowering gift that is to our children.
“I am good at lots of things”
One thing I’ve experienced with my own son is his frustration when he doesn’t understand or achieve something with ease. When he gets fixated on what he can’t do, I encourage him to think about all the things he’s really good at and we make a list.
I think talking about and writing down a list of their skills and talents is a great way to tangibly promote self-esteem and also to help them realise that the things they’re now good at took practice and patience on their part.”
You can buy a pack of yesmumMINI cards for £10.50 at yesmumcards.com or find Hollie on Instagram/Twitter @theyesmummum