Positive Affirmations for Our Kids
Written by Bethany Harold
I was talking to a friend the other day and she was asking about my kids and how they were doing with their dad being gone again (he was gone for 5 weeks in August-October and again for the month of November). I told her how they are adjusting just fine and I mentioned how I just make sure to tell them extra affirmations when putting them to bed. She asked what I meant by affirmations, and I explained it’s something we naturally do by saying they are smart, funny, cute, silly, etc. etc. Her asking me that got me thinking how helpful it could be to others to understand “the why” behind these positive statements and how impactful they can be.
A little background about me is that I have a Bachelor’s degree in Movement and Exercise Science and a Master’s degree in Sport and Performance Psychology. This means I work with individuals on cognitive skills that address having a consistent, optimal performance and increase their well-being. So when I had kids I knew I wanted to incorporate these skills that I have spent years utilizing with athletes and soldiers.
I base the statements in the theory of Growth and Fixed Mindset coined by Carol Dweck. She describes her research as, “Looking at these mindsets, their role in motivation and self-regulation, and their impact on achievement and interpersonal processes.”
Growth mindset is described as believing our intelligence can be developed which leads us to have a desire to learn and a tendency to utilize resources that will allow us to grow. This includes embracing challenges, persisting when we face setbacks, we see effort as the key to mastery, we learn from feedback (whether it is positive or negative), and we are driven from the success of others. As a result, we tend to believe our future achievements have no limit. More on this in a minute.
Fixed mindset is described as believing our abilities are static which leads us to have the desire to look skilled and therefore we tend to disregard resources put in place to help us. This includes avoiding challenges, giving up easily in the face of obstacles, we see effort as fruitless, we ignore feedback even if it is helpful, and we feel threatened by the success of others. As a result, we plateau early and we achieve less than our potential because we believe we are born with a set level of intelligence/athletic ability/skill/etc. and there is nothing they can do to change that. What this can sound like is telling our kids they are smart but never saying what they are doing to make them smart or telling our kids that they did a good job but not describing what they did that led to the good job. Again, making it seem like they were just born this way even if that wasn’t our intention.
The incredible thing about a growth mindset is that we are teaching them (early) that their effort is what makes them succeed. We are telling them that being able to listen to people is what will help them learn and achieve success. By promoting a growth mindset we are aiding in their understanding that setbacks or obstacles are learning opportunities and it is their effort and persistence that will help them overcome these challenges. From all of this, the biggest thing we are promoting with our kids is that their future is unlimited, their success can’t be capped, and their achievements are in their control. How I present the affirmations for Brooks and Baylor is I say that they are smart because they put in effort. They are smart because they listen when people are describing things to them. They are leaders. They are fun to be around because they cheer on their friends and they are nice to others. And so forth. They can develop these areas. They have control in these areas. Therefore encouraging a mindset that promotes…growth.
I hope this was helpful. We have such a positive impact on our kids and what a better way to promote such a positive mindset than doing what we are already doing? By telling our kids how amazing they are and how amazing they will always be.
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