Help Your Child Build Self Esteem With Affirmations

Help Your Child Build Self Esteem With Affirmations

Do positive affirmations really do anything?

The science says YES, but there's a catch. 

Affirmations are a simple self-help tool your child (and you!) can use to help build self-esteem, self-worth, and confidence.
But how do you use them to help your kid?

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You’ve probably practiced affirming yourself on occasion without even knowing it! Think about the last time you had to do something that made you anxious - an interview, public speaking - you may have reassured yourself with phrases like, “I got this” or “I’m an excellent worker, they’d be lucky to have me.”

Reassuring yourself before a seemingly scary situation can help shift your focus away from your perceived inadequacies and toward your assets.

Those are essentially affirmations. 

But saying them didn’t technically change anything, so what was the point?

Repetition and Consistency

While regularly repeating “I am strong” might seem a little silly, if your child is faced with a bully at school you want her to know deep down that she is strong enough to face them. 

To get her there, tell her she is strong and then have her own it through practicing these affirmations. Have her repeat them in the mirror to herself each day. Because when we’re faced with a situation that has the potential to make us feel powerless, we can draw strength from our affirmations (Albalooshi, S., 2020).

So, the key to self-affirmations is repetition (say them once per day), consistency (every day), and what else?


If the affirmation (no matter how well-intentioned) conflicts with a deeply held negative belief, then not only will it not work, it may even make their negative belief stronger! 

All they'll gain out of repeating an affirmation that feels false is an internal struggle and tension in their body (Henshaw, 2014)

So what do you do if you want to help them overcome a negative belief about themselves?

Challenge Negative Beliefs

If your child has a negative belief firmly in place, you can't simply tell them to affirm the opposite. 

For example, if your child believes they're ugly - children as young as 5 have expressed body image issues and are aware of dieting as a means of controlling weight - you can't simply tell them to say "I'm beautiful" every day and expect it magically change their mind (Davison & Birch, 2001).

While we can't make our kids see themselves through our eyes, we can help them change their viewpoint through encouraging them to question their negative beliefs (Senay, Albarracín & Noguchi, 2010).

So, start asking them questions that challenge their negative beliefs. 

For example, ask them to consider: "am I ugly? Is there anyone who looks similar to me, do I think they're ugly?" Or: "what if I am ugly, what does that mean?"

Potential answers might be: "Sadie looks similar to me, I don't think she's ugly." "If I'm ugly I'll never get married."

Then, of course, you'll need to dive deeper with more questions, challenging each. "If you don't think Sadie is ugly, then why do you think you are?" "If you never get married, what would that mean? Is a life only worth living if you have a spouse? Are there other paths people choose to find happiness?"

Keep going until your child no longer feels they are ugly or until they start to see how unimportant looks are.

When Else Might They Not Work?

If your child already has high self-esteem, they probably won’t see much benefit from affirmations. But that’s a good thing! You’ve already managed to instill in them a strong sense of self-worth.

Something else to keep in mind is that self-esteem issues can also be related to mental health concerns, including depression and anxiety. Unfortunately, there aren’t any quick fixes for these things and seeking help from a professional might be necessary.


We gave away this affirmation printable for FREE in our August 13th, 2021 email newsletter. 

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