As a parent, the start of the school year often means a return to routine...which tends to be appreciated after a summer full of spontaneous adventures, late nights and visiting new places. Today I'm sharing what could be a simple addition to your kids routine that can become a lifetime habit that positively influences their lives. That addition can be known by several different names but for my purposes, I'll call it 'positive affirmations.' In our home, we speak Christian affirmations, but the practice extends beyond the Christian faith....so whether you're a believer, still exploring or of a different faith....this principle can still apply to you. It's such a broad topic...but I'll try my best to make what I want to share make sense. Of course - if you end up having questions, ask away in a comment!! This is an area I'm passionate about sharing and discussing.
Personally, I developed the practice of speaking positive affirmations well out of college at a time in my life I needed to try and find a tangible way to see God working in my life. I found not only are they a great way to help you get the most out of every day, but they also provide a positive brain boost, helping you focus on specific goals and ideas that make the hurdles of every day life seem much more manageable. This topic is a blog post in itself for another day, but today - again, with the start of the school year, I'd like to share how you can instill this practice in your kids.
Our kids need to know that our words have immense power. Once released, words can't be taken back....so why not make them positive, life-giving words. One way to do that is by seriously considering the value of the words we speak. Does what comes out of our mouths build someone up or benefit someone listening (Ephesians 4:29 -- our church small group just did a fabulous study on this verse - let me know if you're interested)?
“Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. We can choose to use this force constructively with words of encouragement, or destructively using words of despair. Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate and to humble.” -Yehuda Berg
The power of words is also a Biblical principle. As Jesus's brother James explains in James 3:4-12....
3 We make a horse go wherever we want it to go by a small bit in its mouth. We turn its whole body by this. 4 Sailing ships are driven by strong winds. But a small rudder turns a large ship whatever way the man at the wheel wants the ship to go.
5 The tongue is also a small part of the body, but it can speak big things. See how a very small fire can set many trees on fire. 6 The tongue is a fire. It is full of wrong. It poisons the whole body. The tongue sets our whole lives on fire with a fire that comes from hell. 7 Men can make all kinds of animals and birds and fish and snakes do what they want them to do. 8 But no man can make his tongue say what he wants it to say. It is sinful and does not rest. It is full of poison that kills. 9 With our tongue we give thanks to our Father in heaven. And with our tongue we speak bad words against men who are made like God. 10 Giving thanks and speaking bad words come from the same mouth. My Christian brothers, this is not right! 11 Does a well of water give good water and bad water from the same place? 12 Can a fig tree give olives or can a grape-vine give figs? A well does not give both good water and bad water.
What are the things you desire most for your children? That they're kind to one another? That they make good decisions? That they pay attention in school? Then these are the areas in which you should speak over your kids, and teach your kids speak affirmations for themselves. Affirmations can re-program your mind, or in this case your kids' minds, to believe specific things about themselves. They can help create the future you desire for yourself (or for your kids) - I've seen this in my own life. Biblically God wants us to speak His promises. As our kids get older we'll help them back their affirmations with Scripture, but right now we keep it simple and choose simple statements that represent specific scripture.
We speak affirmations with our boys together every morning in the car.. For us it's a convenient time to remember to do this daily. Maybe for you it's during a lunch break, or on your drive to work. After a few weeks of having the kids "repeat after me," they can now recite them on their own. In fact we call it our cheer! With a little guidance they're able to remember them all, say them loudly and confidently, and set the tone for their day. Sometimes, as those of you who've raised or are raising toddlers know, the morning doesn't get off to the best start. Someone oversleeps, won't eat their breakfast, refuses to get dressed, etc... Taking a few minutes during your car ride to speak positive words loudly with authority can help all of us forget the chaos of the morning, remember what we're focusing on and reboot our morning to have a great day!
My goal in doing this with our boys is that they eventually see the long term positive effect for themselves, and use the practice to continue directing their lives independently as they get older. In other words, I don't necessarily care that they speak the exact affirmations I've chosen for them, I just want them to continue the practice and speak affirmations they've chosen themselves! It's up to you to choose how many affimations, and which affirmations to use, obviously you know your kids best. A gradeschooler will likely remember more affirmations than my 2-year-old....but for demonstrative purposes, I'll share what our boys say over their day each morning.
I am smart. (Proverbs 8:12)
I am brave. (Psalm 56:3)
I am strong. (1Corinthians 16:13)
I am kind. (Galatians 3:28)
I listen. (Matthew 11:15)
I love Jesus. (Matthew 22:37)
I will have a great day! (Psalm 118:24)
I encourage you to give the practice a try...and feel free to share your affirmations here! I'd love to hear your stories of the words you speak becoming reality in your life. If you're new to speaking affirmations....start with just a few...and add a few or drop a couple as you go. Eventually you'll create a list of affirmations that define areas of importance in your life.