In the Relax Kids programme, we use seven steps to relaxation; this is applied to all our classes, whether they are with babies, children or adults. Every so often, I tune into a specific step, really focusing in on it and practising more myself. Recently, it's been the turn of step 6:
In this step, we think about affirmations. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, the word "affirmation" comes from the Latin, affirmare: to emphasize, confirm, ratify. Affirmations confirm that something is true for us. They are clear, positive statements that help us make positive changes. They help us to visualise and believe in what we are saying and create a healthy sense of self-worth and self-esteem. Even if we don't particularly feel it in that moment, it's the acknowledgement and belief that we have the capacity to feel it, to be it.
How many of us remember having to "write lines" at school: to repeat a phrase over and over, with the teacher's intention being that it would cement it in our brains and we would not make the same mistake again? There's no need to write out affirmations ad nauseum, but you can introduce the practice of choosing and saying an affirmation a day, as part of your daily routine.
Physiologically, repeating affirmations can help to release endorphins into the system, promoting a sense of happiness and well-being. In the same way that physically exercising our muscles can produce endorphins, positive affirmations can increase the flow of these "happy hormones" in our brains. If practised daily, they can have a significant impact upon our emotional well-being. Affirmations can help create positive beliefs and lead to positive behaviour. Further benefits include increased patience, focus, concentration, listening skills, empathy and improved communication skills.
And, it's never too early to start. Giving your children affirmations from an early age can increase their self-worth and self-confidence, helping them to build secure attachments. And don't be afraid to use complex words with them: build up their vocabulary. After all, if a three year old can say "stegosaurus", they can certainly try saying "unique". We have an affirmation calendar up in our kitchen. Every morning, my daughter checks it and we talk about the affirmation for that day. Recently, my three year old piped up that he wanted to say one, and independently offered up, "I am friendly, I am fabulous, I am safe!"
Affirmations should be in the first person, "I", and should be in the present tense (for example: "I have" or "I am") and, of course, be positive. Try writing an affirmation, or choosing one from the list below and repeating it, perhaps first in your head, then out loud. Experiment with it: how does it feel if you say it hunched or slummed? Now try saying it standing tall and straight. Perhaps, look at yourself in the mirror as you say your affirmation. As with anything new, it can feel a little funny at first. Perhaps even uncomfortable. But keep trying. One day at a time. Start small, and see how it feels.
Here are 10 positive affirmations for you to try:
I am OK
I am enough
I am worthy
I am unique
I am special
I choose thoughts that make me feel good about myself
I deserve to have good in my life
I love and respect myself
I believe in myself I know that I make a difference to those around me
I am confident
Make it fun!
- I wrote affirmations on some wooden blocks, we built them into a tower and the children read them out as they pull out the block (being careful not to topple the tower!)
- Write affirmations on a beach ball and throw it to each other: wherever your thumb lands, is the affirmation you read.
- Write affirmations on a dice and roll it - call out the affirmation it lands on.
- See if you can write an affirmation for each letter of the alphabet.
- Think about affirmations that start with the same letter as your name.