help4yourfamily

Create the family you want to have

Parenting with affirmations

what are word for?

what are word for? (Photo credit: Darwin Bell)

Written by, Kate Oliver, MSW, LCSW-C

My children are learning new and wonderful things every day.

I am loving and supportive to my children.

My children are loving toward me.

As a huge fan of Louise Hay, the mother of the self-help movement, I have come to find the wonderful healing work that can be done via the use of affirmations.  Ms. Hay would tell you that every statement is an affirmation.  Typically we think of affirmations being statements we say to help us to feel better.  I am loving and loveable is a common affirmation people try to say over and over to help change internal beliefs.  But people can also say other, unhealthy or damaging affirmations, without even realizing they are doing so.  I hear affirmations all the time like this, for example: everything I do turns out wrong, and it seems like everyone I love leaves me.  I know it may seem simplistic to say that affirmations can change things but take a moment to see if you can remember words that may have changed your life.  Hurtful words, loving words, thoughtful words, all may have played a part in helping you to form who you are.

I remember overhearing my mother say once that my sister was a smart as I was pretty.  These words carried a lot of meaning for my twelve year old self.  From them I deduced that my mother thought I was pretty (nice), but not that smart (ouch).  While I know she would never have wanted me to feel like I was not smart and she has told me many times since that I am smart, I know that those words were powerful and impacted how I felt about myself.  As parents our words are formative for our children.  In the same way we can use affirmations to help us feel better about ourselves and to retrain our brains and our internal belief systems, we can use them to help our children form their own internal beliefs and set of understandings about how to feel better when life is hard.

One good introduction to affirmations for children is Louise Hay’s children’s book, I Think, I Am.  In it, Hay uses child friendly language to teach children the power of affirmations.  I have been using affirmations in my parenting for well over a year now, and can tell you it has made a huge difference in my children’s day to day happiness (mine as well).  One thing that I think keeps people away from using affirmations is that they believe all affirmations have to be said in this nicey, nicey tone that feels syrupy and sweet.  In my time using affirmations with my children, I can tell you this is absolutely not so!

My then  six year old daughter, used to have reactions ranging from grumpy and reluctant to downright nasty upon waking up each morning.  I actually got pretty irritated with going in to her room each morning to wake her up with a nice song only to be greeted with a moan that I needed to stop singing and demands for me to help her get dressed.  However, I was determined to stay positive toward her and to try to set limits.  One day, I got fed up with it and said quite firmly something along the lines of, “You know, the things you say right when you get up set the tone for your day.  Do you want to wake up saying how rotten things are all the time or would you like to start your day showing love for all you have?”  Here comes the affirmation, which I then stated out loud.  “I am chosing to start my day happy and to be around people who are being kind to me.” Then I walked out of her room.  I can assure you that I did not sound remotely close to sweet and syrupy.  I also stated that I was going to take care of myself by leaving the room because I did not want to start my day feeling angry and sour.  I believe my tone and questions are what caused my daughter to sit up and took notice.  Within a few minutes she had dressed herself and come downstairs to tell me she did want to start her day right.  Since then she has mentioned this desire several times.  Sometimes in the morning when I wake her up now she still mentions that today she is going to have a happy day and I can tell you that morning wake ups have completely changed for her making our entire morning smoother for everyone.

Perhaps this sounds too simplistic.  I know it’s not always so easy because I know you might tell me how your child would follow you out of the room and around the house demanding that you do such and such or this or that.  Affirmations are not magical.  They do not immediately change the people around you just by you saying them, however, they do help you to change your inner world and your outer world is forced to change as well.  Be what I call a “broken record” with your affirmations.  As your child follows you around giving you a hard time, continue to state them out loud.  It can be the same one over and over again- you know, the same way you have to say “no” twenty times before they get it.

Now that you have read this, I would strongly encourage you to take a moment now to think about the affirmations you are saying to and about your own children.  Would you like to change them?  If so, write down what you would like to change them to.  Need help finding an affirmation?  Give me a try.  I’ve gotten pretty good at this 🙂

For more information about affirmations, I would strongly recommend you read Louise Hay’s classic book, You Can Heal Your Life.  It has been around for a while but it is actually a timeless work.  No time to read?  I bought it off itunes and listened to it while walking and I highly recommend this way as well.  You can easily find this book by clicking on the Amazon widget link at the top right of this page.  Please read my disclaimer page first.

Cover of "YOU CAN HEAL YOUR LIFE"

Cover of YOU CAN HEAL YOUR LIFE

April 11, 2012 - Posted by | affirmations, help for parents | , , , , , ,

12 Comments »

  1. I’m so glad that there are experts who advocate this kind of parenting! This is how I get my daughter to do the things that she needs to learn to do, for instance picking up toys. “Fiona, you are such a responsible kid. You pick up your toys. That’s responsible!” All with a smile on my face, and away she trundles to be responsible.

    Comment by unhappymommy | April 26, 2012 | Reply

  2. I know, it’s like doing the Jedi mind trick on them- if you get it right, they get so happy, they forget they were going to give you a hard time about it. It really is one of my favorite parenting techniques. Also, if it doesn’t work the first time, you just say it again until it does.

    Comment by help4yourfamily | April 26, 2012 | Reply

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