In a world full of pressure, comparison, and stress, it is more important than ever to help build our children’s self-concept and shape their inner voice.
Our self-concept is the way we see ourselves. It is our view of our abilities, behaviors, and characteristics. Our self-concept creates a mental picture of who we are physically, socially, and emotionally.
Our inner voice is also known as our inner monologue. Are you hearing yourself read this in your mind? That is your inner monologue. Have you ever had to make a presentation, and you’ve calmed your nerves while talking to yourself in your mind? That is your inner monologue. Or have you made a mistake and talked down to yourself in your mind? That is also your inner monologue.
The way we speak to our children helps build their self-concept and shape their inner voice.
In our home, we have this quote hanging in our living room: “We should speak to our children as though they are the wisest, most kind-hearted, beautiful, and magical souls we’ve ever known; for what they believe is what they will one day grow to become.” -Brooke Hampton.
I think it is safe to say that I’ve read it hundreds of times and each time it touches every part of my heart.
A couple of months ago, my boys and I began doing positive affirmations each night during their bedtime routine. A positive affirmation is a statement that we say to ourselves to help reprogram our mind to think positively about our self-concept. Positive affirmations help kids to gain confidence, contribute to a growth mindset, and help kids to truly believe in themselves.
After their bedtime story (or stories, if we are being honest!), we say these together:
- I am special.
- I am loved.
- I am kind.
- I am smart.
- I am funny.
- I am fast. (They added this one themselves. #boymom)
- I am confident.
- I am trustworthy.
- I am patient.
- I am strong.
- I am brave.
- I am wonderfully and fearfully made. (Psalm 139:14)
- I am a special gift from God.
We have most recently begun adding affirmations to our morning as well.
A mother I have followed on Instagram for a while, Lindsey Gurk @lindseygurk (you may know her for the “Get Your Pink Back” movement), does an affirmation chant with her children each morning. It goes like this:
Are we caring?
Are we kind?
Do we love all of our body and our mind?
Are we creative?
Are we courageous?
Is the light and love we show just so contagious?
Are we going to have a good day?
These are two ways you can incorporate positive affirmations in your bedtime routine and your morning routine, but how about throughout the day?
As a boy mom, I am constantly teaching the boys safe ways to play that don’t include hospital visits. IYKYK. Anyways, when the boys are playing unsafely or too rough, I will tell them, “You are too special to be hurt.” My oldest (5 years old) has even said this to me when he’s caught himself doing something that could possibly get him hurt, and he will stop and change what he is doing. Another habit I have created is when my boys call for me, instead of saying “what,” I will say “Yes, love.” In the thick of the daily tasks or even in a stressful moment, there have been times when my boys have called for me, and I have responded with a “what” with irritation in my voice. Even if they had done absolutely nothing wrong at the moment and I was irritated with something else, they received an irritated response. Has this ever happened to you? By creating this habit of intentionally answering with something positively affirming, they will feel love when addressed and that they are an irritant.
Being completely honest and vulnerable, I have tears welling up in my eyes right now. I am so madly in love with my two boys, and the thought of them ever feeling a negative thought about themselves physically pains me. I have always said that I want my boys to know they can come to me when things get hard, or they make a mistake. I don’t want them to feel like they can’t come to me because they are worried about my possible response.
Whether your children are wobbly walking babies, teenagers trying to figure out their place in the world, or grown adults conquering the world, it is never too late or too early to begin affirming them to build their self-concept and to positively shape their inner voice.