When I say "affirmations", what's the first thing that comes to mind? I may be giving away my age here, but the first thing I used to picture was that SNL sketch of Stuart Smalley, looking into the mirror and repeating "I'm good enough. I'm smart enough. And doggone it, people like me!"
I wouldn't have guessed that years later, I would be looking in the mirror and doing the same thing! But now, as an adult, a parent and a constant role-model for my kids, I have discovered the power of affirmations and why they are so important not just for our kids, but for us parents alike. Thanks SNL! Especially with today's Covid-inspired uncertainly and anxiety, affirmations can be a coping tool, a grounding practice and a means of empowerment. It's for these reasons that I was inspired to create our newest product, My Mindset Magnets, during the pandemic.
So what exactly are affirmations? Affirmations are positive statements that can help you to challenge and overcome negative thoughts. When repeated often and consistently, they help to change our mindset, build a positive and growth-centred mindset, and increase self-confidence and resiliency. Dr. Tanya Cotler, child and adult psychologist and one of our expert advisors who consulted on the creation of My Mindset Magnets, shares: "When we are struggling, affirmations allow us often to focus on the present moment and what we can control versus what we can't. They empower us to build resilience and hope. And we know, from research, that when we change our way of thinking or our thought patterns, there are bodily changes as well. There's a direct connection between mind and body - between our cells in our body and our thoughts. Affirmations have the power to affect both. These are very powerful words!"
This idea of focussing on the present and what is within our control was a big motivator for me in creating My Mindset Magnets. Yes - like My Kindness Calendar - they were created as a tool for kids to help them build emotional intelligence and important social-emotional skills like self-confidence, resiliency and a growth mindset. But - spoiler alert - I also created them for myself and the other adults out there. Covid has put so many more "what ifs" and unpredictability into all of our lives. And as a true A-type personality who loves lists, a plan and a sense of stability, uncertainly isn't the best ingredient for a calm, happy day. All of a sudden, I found myself worrying more about the future, trying to control every outcome, and second guessing decisions. To send kids to school? To not send kids to school? To attend that outdoor birthday bbq? To not attend that party? To sanitize my groceries and mail... or not? Decisions - the big ones and also the seemingly small - all of a sudden became weighty and anxiety-inducing.
I felt myself needing certain reminders that I haven't needed as much before. I can do hard things. I can make positive choices. I am trying my best. I am raising resilient kids. As parents, we are there to tell these things to our children and teach them to be able to tell themselves the same empowering words. But who's there to remind us to do the same thing when we need to change our inner monologue? So I created this tool to make it easy, consistent and fun for both my kids and me to build this practice and positive mindset.
Like My Kindness Calendar, I wanted to create something that was child-driven. Kids are not told what to say - instead they are encouraged and empowered to use their own creativity and choose the words that resonate with them on any given day. With a set of over 200 inspiring magnetic words (colour coded by nouns, verb, adjectives etc. to help build literacy skills along with the social-emotional skills), kids and parents can create positive statements every day as they reach for a snack in the fridge. Easily and conveniently putting things in writing and keeping them visible as a consistent reminder to keep that positive mindset makes it simple to practice building these affirmations every day.
Consistency is the key to an affirmation practice, so it becomes a ritual. As Dr. Cotler adds: "Consistency is really important, for an affirmation practice and for kids in general. It makes things more predictable. It makes us feel safe when things are unsafe. And an affirmation practice can become a way of building connection between a parent and child, fostering that secure and safe attachment which is vital to the parent-child relationship. And as with all things, consistently practicing affirmations will lead to results and help you become what you express in words."
Jennifer Wu, another one of our expert advisors and creator of the positive mindset journals for kids, Spark Journals, has seen the impact of a consistent affirmation practice in her kids, and has also used the power of affirmations to inform the journals she developed. Why? "Connecting with empathy, kindness and instilling confidence becomes their inner voice, and also radiates out into how they relate to others" says Wu. And when you see it in practice, it's so rewarding. "We were riding scooters one day this summer and my youngest fell. Both older kids ran straight over to her to check on her. My heart melted when I heard my middle say to her sister “You are brave. You are strong. You can handle this. You are safe." It was the perfect proof of the power of affirmations!"
And so you have it - the story and value behind My Mindset Magnets. I truly hope this set will make it easy and fun for you to start creating positive affirmations and statements on a daily basis with your kids, as a means of connecting and building resiliency through this tricky time and beyond. Now off to my fridge to craft a statement for today... I need it! And in case you do too: YOU ARE BRAVE AND YOU CAN DO HARD THINGS. YOU ARE IMPORTANT AND BEAUTIFUL, MY FRIENDS!