In an increasingly digital world where “highlight reels” abound and real, but yet imperfect, seems to be “not enough,” it is so important to help our children build feelings of worth.
Our tween daughter will look at pictures of celebrities in magazines and social media where “perfect” is celebrated, and suddenly her muscular thighs will be an issue she needs to “fix,” rather than celebrating how far her legs can carry her. Our sons will see athletes on cereal boxes, and suddenly his artistic or musical ability will not seem “cool” enough.
Our job as parents is to meet our children where they are and guide them toward being able to see and appreciate all the unique parts of themselves.
Luke Glowacki (2020), author for Thrive Global, and believer in the use of affirmations in building self esteem, reports, “If you do not see these positive elements, try using one or more of these self-esteem affirmations for five minutes each day. Every time you repeat one, you’re encouraging the life qualities you want to cultivate to start growing”. Meaning, when we point out these qualities in our children on a regular basis, we are literally bringing attention to their positive attributes we hope continue to grow in their development journey. Additionally, we are teaching them how to recognize worthy positive qualities in themselves.
While there are hundreds of affirmations you can use with your children, here are five of my favorites!
Five Affirmations to Use with our Children to Build Self Esteem
I love you!
Seriously, you can never tell your child this enough. Tell them in the morning, when you pick them up from school, when you are big mad because the grumpy words are being tossed your way, before bed…just because. Over and over. Just because. We all need to be reminded that people exist who love us unconditionally and just because.
I love how you care about others.
Want your child to be caring and empathetic? Point it out when you see it. You get what you choose to see. The more you notice the good, caring, kind behavior, the more of it you will see from your child.
My life is better with you in it.
This one gets me. In my moments with my husband or children where I am at the very end of my rope, it is absolutely imperative that they know that no matter how angry or disappointed I may be, I still don’t want to do life with anyone else. This is another one they need to hear on the regular.
You are enough just the way you are.
I have this tattooed on my forearm. As a child, I always struggled with not feeling “enough.” I wasn’t quite as pretty as others as a tween (looking back, I was beautiful as is, just going through the typical awkward tween phase). I was smart, but smart wasn’t so cool then, so I sure wasn’t popular. I would have done anything to be just like everyone else.
Fast forward to my adult life, and I am enough exactly as I am. I tell my children they are “enough” every day. I am sure they’ll have to figure it out on their own like I did, but I make sure to tell them and introduce them to knowing their worth early on.
You are a gift to our family.
This one is important in all families, but especially in families with more than one child. It is so easy to feel “lost” in big brother or sister’s accomplishments. But, each child is a gift. My Grace has the biggest heart and is such a little empath. Matt could talk his way out of anything…a skill that will carry him far in life…ha. Mykenzie is headstrong and fearless, and she will be a powerful leader in whatever she decides to do. Each kiddo has individual qualities that I adore and add to the dynamics of our family. Tell them why they are special to the family often.
Cyndi Barber, writer for iMom, articulates, “Positive words are very important in building a child’s self-esteem. It can be difficult to remember to give our kids affirming words, particularly when life is busy. It doesn’t come naturally for me to encourage the people around me. I have a tendency to focus more on what needs improvement than what is already amazing. I need to intentionally remember to express appreciation to my family”.
Many basic discipline philosophies (Love and Logic by Jim Faye, Conscious Discipline with Becky Bailey, etc.) share the basic philosophy that we get what we focus on. If all we focus on are the parts of our children we think we need to “fix,” we will raise children that do the same thing. If we choose to place the focus on the positive characteristics of our children worth celebrating, we will raise children that look for the positive in those around them. Naturally, we can always be working on self improvement, but finding joy exactly where we are is important in the pursuit of true happiness as well.
Barber, Cyndi. 20 Affirmations to Build Your Child’s Self Esteem. Retrieved from https://www.imom.com/20-affirmations-to-build-your-childs-self-esteem/
Glowacki, Luke. (2020). 50 Self Esteem Affirmations. Retrieved from https://thriveglobal.com/stories/50-self-esteem-affirmations-repeat-them-daily-to-build-self-worth
This blog article is a part of The Lily-Jo Project’s International Weekend of Self-Care campaign which takes place in August. To learn more about this campaign and access additional self-care resources, visit www.thelilyjoproject.com/internationalweekendofselfcare.
Further Resources on Self-Esteem and Children
If you found this article helpful, check out these other resources provided by The Lily-Jo Project.
- Building Confidence in Our Children: 4 Simple Strategies to Try at Home
- 5 Harmful Things to Say to Children and What to Say Instead (Part 1)
- 5 MORE Harmful Things to Say to Children and What to Say Instead (Part 2)
- Boosting Your Confidence: 5 Simple Steps from Lily-Jo
About the Author: Brandy Browne
Brandy Browne is an early childhood educator in the United States, as well as a family coach and blogger for UnStuck (www.unstucks.com), her family coaching service aimed at helping families develop positive habits and breaking the cycle of generational trauma and poverty.
Her education is in early and elementary education, and she also has a masters degree in parenting and child/adolescent development. Brandy is a wife to her high school sweetheart of fifteen years, and together they share three children, aged ten, seven, and five. In her free time, she enjoys reading, gardening, writing, and distance running.