Creating positive affirmations for kids, when done consistently and correctly, can bring lifelong benefits. Science says so. Just like a piece of clay on a potter’s wheel, children’s brains can be “shaped” as these develop. This is called neuroplasticity. Simply put, it is the ability of the brain’s neural networks to adjust their behavior in reaction to new information or stimuli. When you surround your children with statements and actions that reflect encouragement and unconditional love, you are, in fact, influencing their brain architecture positively for the rest of their lives.
Now, the question is: which affirmations work? And how should you perform them so that they make a difference in your children’s lives?
The following positive affirmations for kids may help you raise happy, confident, and holistically healthy children. Have your kids recite them aloud every morning and evening or say them silently whenever they are feeling overwhelmed. Every affirmation in the list below is paired with a question that you can work into your conversations with your kids. (You don’t need to ask these after they say each affirmation. The questions are just meant to guide conversations on mindfulness with your kids.)
Daily Affirmations for Kids
1. I accept all of me—my strengths, my weaknesses, my quirks.
Your kids’ self-esteem gets a healthy boost when they learn to accept—and love—who they are. According to international speaker and child discipline expert Madelyn Swift, high self-esteem is essential for children to grow up with good emotional health.
Ask them this: What is your favorite thing about yourself?
2. I can do hard things.
By reminding your kids every day that they are determined, strong, and resourceful, you cultivate their grit and resilience in the midst of challenges. Armed with a healthy sense of self, children are more able to meet obstacles head on.
Ask them this: What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do?
3. My family and friends love me. I love me, too.
A study done at UCLA concluded that children who grow up in an environment of unconditional love become happier, less anxious adults compared to those who didn’t experience the same as kids. When your children are secure in the fact that they are loved, it does wonders for their emotional development.
Ask them this: What makes you so lovable?
4. I am brave and strong even if I don’t feel like I am sometimes.
Christopher Robin (through Pooh’s Grand Adventure: The Search for Christopher Robin screenwriters Carter Crocker and Karl Geurs) said it right—“You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” Imagine how powerful your kids would feel going through their day with this affirmation in their head.
Ask them these: Which activity will need lots of your bravery? When can we do it together?
5. I deserve to be loved and appreciated.
In 2020, actor and activist Grace Byers wrote a New York Times bestseller I Am Enough. Although her main objective in writing her book was to promote diversity and female empowerment, it also effectively teaches children that they are meant to be exactly who they are. I Am Enough echoes the affirmation above—believe that you are worth all the love in the world. Because you are.
Ask them this: What do you love most about yourself?
6. If I want to, I can do anything.
A growth mindset helps children handle transitions better, use criticisms constructively, and develop grit. This affirmation plants the seeds of determination in your kids. It tells them that obstacles are merely bumps on the road meant to be driven over.
Ask them this: What skill do you want to learn as you are growing up?
7. I am grateful for… (complete the sentence with what you’ve been blessed with today).
Psychologists say that gratitude is linked to happiness, optimism, emotional resilience, and better physical and mental health. According to behavior specialist Nora Camacho, in an article published by Rady Children’s Hospital, kindness and compassion are direct products of feeling and expressing gratitude. When you praise them for saying “thank you,” it may motivate them to do more kind acts.
Ask them this: What are three things you are grateful for today?
8. It’s okay to make mistakes.
In fact, it’s necessary to make mistakes. That is how they learn. If they don’t get it right the first time, or even the tenth time, but they keep going, they will eventually think of other ways of doing it. And they will have succeeded tenfold—in mastering a new skill and in practicing persistence and determination.
Ask them this: What would you like to learn to do today?
9. I am a kind and compassionate kid.
Parents are expected to reinforce their children’s good behavior. So when the kids also pat themselves on the back for being amazing, this affirmation hits differently. They are taking ownership of their goodness and empowering themselves to be kind and compassionate humans.
Ask them this: How do you feel when you help someone?
10. When I’m sad, I can always ask for a hug and get one.
When children trust the people around them, it equips them to build strong relationships. Asking for help is also an essential skill; one that they will use until adulthood. To ingrain this skill while they’re young, children need the assurance that they will always receive help—even if it’s just a hug during a bad day—whenever they need it.
Ask them this: Do you need a hug right now?
11. I have many talents. I know how to do lots of things.
Self-confidence is powerful. Believing that they are capable boosts children’s trust in themselves. This self-reliance helps kids grow up to live full lives because, like in the case of the little Engine that could, the sentence “I think I can” makes anything possible.
Ask them this: Can you show me one of your talents?
12. I am a work in progress, and am on my way to doing even greater things.
Contrary to what some people may think, admitting that you are not perfect is a sign of strength. Once they acknowledge that they are still learning, your kids can then focus their attention on becoming better and better at whatever they are doing.
Ask them this: What is something you want to be better at?
13. I can control how I react to my feelings.
The cornerstone of emotional maturity is the ability to manage emotions. When your children practice this every day, it teaches them that feeling feelings and expressing them are not signs of weakness. These are things they need to do to develop emotional self-regulation, which is a vital skill for everyone, not just children.
Ask them these: What makes you angry? How can you express your anger without hurting anyone, including yourself?
14. Life is an adventure and I am excited to experience every little thing in it.
Why do you fill your kids’ days with soccer practice, piano lessons and art classes on top of school? Because you want to expand your children’s horizons and show them everything that life has to offer. Instilling in your kids a thirst for new experiences helps usher them out of their comfort zone. It empowers them to know that when they step inside unfamiliar territory, they have within them an indefatigable spirit.
Ask them this: What new thing would you like to do after school today?
15. I forgive myself.
Yes, this one may be a bit heavy for little children to tell themselves. After all, if they have no experience of doing it yet, forgiveness may seem too abstract a concept. What this affirmation does is give them permission to let go of past mistakes. It tells them to “shake it off” so they can move forward. Taylor Swift knows what she’s talking about.
Ask them these: What recent mistake do you keep thinking about over and over? Are you ready to let it go?
16. My voice deserves to be heard. I matter.
From the moment they are born, children are automatically granted basic human rights that every person on Earth should enjoy. The Convention on the Rights of the Child is a universal human rights instrument that most countries accept and uphold. One of the most important points of this Convention, according to UNICEF, is that children “have equal status as members of the human family.” In other words, their opinions should be listened to, whether they are talking about what their teacher said in school today or their favorite band going on tour.
Ask them this: What would you like to do with the whole family this weekend?
17. My friends enjoy playing with me. And I enjoy playing with them.
Your children’s peer relationships are vital to their growth. These connections develop their social skills, teach them how to negotiate and compromise, and give them a sense of identity and belonging. There will be disagreements and maybe even fights on the playground. But unless the skirmishes are violent, these are all necessary for your kids’ social and emotional growth. It may be scary, but exposing your children to these challenges helps them to successfully deal with fear and anxiety for the rest of their lives.
The playground isn’t just for playing. It’s also for building up your kids’ armor.
Ask them these: Who is your best friend? Why do you like them more than your other friends?
18. My life is interesting and beautiful.
For over two years, Italian photographer Gabriele Galimberti flew to more than 50 countries to capture images of children posing with their favorite things in the world: their toys. He calls his project “Toy Stories”. Aside from showing the vastly different objects that children all over the world consider toys, Galimberti’s photo essay also proved that a beautiful life, in the eyes of children, is relative. One child smiled widely as he sat with his huge collection of miniature cars; another couldn’t hide his excitement posing with his one toy, a plush monkey.
Happiness and beauty are relative.
Ask them this: What are three things that make your life awesome?
19. I’m going to let my light shine today.
Let your children trust in their ability to make the world a better place in their own way. This is a potent antidote to insecurity and anxiety. TEDxYouth speaker Ciera Saundry, now 16, is all for people using their lives to help others. It doesn’t matter what your children do. They can invite the new kid at school to join their basketball game; tutor someone on their multiplication table; give a stray dog some food and water; just as long as they do something to touch another life.
This is what the 2000 film Pay it Forward is all about: using your life to improve the lives of others. The brightest light comes from a giving heart. When your children practice this daily, they will grow up to be happy, grateful, and content adults.
Ask them this: In what way can you make someone’s life easier today?
20. I am safe.
A sense of security contributes much to children’s happiness. This feeling of safety must cover their physical, mental, and emotional needs. If children worry about getting hurt, being bullied, or not receiving the support they need, it stunts their growth and development. Having to constantly look over their shoulder for physical or emotional danger is exhausting.
That is why it is vital for your kids to know that they are safe in all aspects of their lives. Focus on the ones you can control, such as their home and family life. As for the rest that are largely beyond your control—school and friends, for example—equip your child with the skills to navigate these so that they can ensure their own safety.
By doing all these, when your children begin their day by saying, “I am safe,” they can be assured that they are, indeed, safe.
Ask them this: What makes you feel safe?
How to Get the Most Out of Positive Affirmations for Kids
There is no shortcut to raising happy, confident, and kind children. Preparing positive affirmations for kids to read every day is not a magic potion that instantly creates well-adjusted adults. Yes, use the affirmations to encourage your kids’ brains to consider the statements as fact. But without following through with support, these affirmations may end up just being an interesting daily activity your kids had to do when they were growing up.
Positive affirmations for kids merely make up the first step. To make them work, you have to see to it that the following get done, too.
Make sure to raise your children in a consistently supportive and encouraging environment.
It will be difficult for your children to imbibe the message of their affirmations if they live in a home that doesn’t reflect sincere positivity. The fact that you are looking into starting an affirmation practice with them is a good sign. But your intent is just one aspect.
Run a home that is conducive to love, mindfulness, and support. Plant your children in good soil (i.e., a happy, supportive home) so that the affirmations can sprout and bear much fruit.
Do the positive affirmation practice daily and around the same time.
It’s a widespread notion that an action becomes a habit if you do it for 21 consecutive days. But a more recent study for University College London done by health psychology researcher Phillippa Lally says that it actually takes between 66 and 254 days for a habit to be formed.
Fortunately, children thrive on routine. Try to do the positive affirmations for kids at the same time every day so that their minds start to expect the daily nourishment. Do it the way taekwondo coaches run their drills—the same warm-up exercises at the beginning of training and the same cool-down exercises at the end. Muscle memory is powerful.
Seamlessly integrate this affirmation practice into your children’s morning and bedtime rituals by making it fun, relaxing, and sincere. By making it a pleasant experience for them, you are setting the foundation so that, hopefully, your kids keep doing their affirmation practice into adulthood.
Teach your children to be patient and realistic.
In some children, positive affirmations can manifest a change in their outlook and actions within days or weeks. It can take longer for others. Each child develops and grows at their own pace. Let them understand that growth is not a race; that they bloom according to their own body clock.
Additionally, to avoid frustration and self-criticism, make sure that the affirmations your children are saying aren’t improbable.
The affirmation “I am beautiful every day” is a wonderful way of advocating for one’s appearance. But there will be days when you may not feel as attractive as this statement espouses. It may be the same with your children. And having to say this sentence every day may take a negative turn. You could then adjust it to a more specific “I love that my eyes smile along with my mouth.”
Use affirmations that are specific to your children’s strengths and weaknesses.
There are hundreds of positive affirmations you can download from mindfulness websites. You can also find them printed on t-shirts, towels, home décor, even welcome mats. It’s perfectly fine to include some of these in your children’s list of self-love statements as some of them do talk about universal notions, such as, “I am worthy of love.”
To make them more meaningful to your children, though, customize some statements according to the reality of each of your kids.
For example, instead of just saying, “I am talented,” have a musically inclined child say, “I play the piano really well.” Instead of saying, “I am full of interesting ideas,” ask a child who loves computers to say, “I can teach anyone how to program a video game.” Instead of saying, “I am proud of my uniqueness,” have a child who is insecure about their height say, “I’m so tall that I’m the only one who can help my teacher reach the highest shelves in our classroom.”
Encourage your child to believe in the affirmations they’re saying.
Let the positive affirmations for your kids not be empty statements. For their messages to stick, your children should believe what they are saying aloud. Help them by staying in the room with them as they recite the affirmations. It would be as if you were the witness to their oath-taking. And, like witnesses at a presidential inauguration, you will be holding your children accountable to what they are saying. So they better believe the words coming out of their mouths since they speak the truth.
Besides, it will be easy for your children to believe in their affirmations because having pride in themselves—and talking about it—feels good. Encourage them to bask in the effervescence the affirmations bring.
Benefits of Positive Affirmations for Kids
Wrapping up, children’s growth and development get a boost from saying daily positive affirmations. This practice teaches them to believe in themselves and to focus on a growth mindset. It helps them be more self-aware and shows them the power of “reprogramming” their mind. They can then grow up to be happy, confident, and kind adults.
If you are as equally invested in this daily practice as your children are, you will all be reaping the benefits well into your kids’ adult lives.