Affirmations with Toddlers – with a social justice slant
If you haven’t checked out the above video yet, take a moment now. It inspired me to do something similar with my toddler, but of course I have a social justice slant to my intentions. In a previous post I discussed gender boxes and how I change the lyrics of nursery rhymes to resist social ideas about gender. My approach to having a daily affirmation with my daughter is similar.
I thought about what characteristics are generally encouraged in girls vs boys. I considered what kind of characteristics I want to encourage in my daughters and I thought about the characteristics of those who, in their own way, actively resist systems of power, privilege, and oppression. She had just turned two so I also wanted to keep it simple and direct.
This is what I came up with…
I am smart. I am brave. I am strong. I am kind.
I aim for us to recite this twice a day, morning and evening after we brush our teeth. Sometimes for fun we’ll playfully recite it during the day and I’ll add all kinds of adjectives: amazing, brilliant, incredible, beautiful, whatever comes to mind. My daughter will jump around and yell out each one. As a mom, and a feminist, there is something really satisfying about watching my daughter jump around, throw her hands up, and loudly proclaim “I am brilliant! I am amazing!”
If you have a teen or preteen that is too cool to practice affirmations with you, an alternate idea would be to first notice when through their words and actions they are exhibiting the characteristics you want to encourage and then verbalize your awareness. This is simple. Just say, “that was kind of you,” “that was really generous,” “what a creative way to problem-solve,” “you were really considerate of their needs,” etc.
I don’t have a teen so I can not vouch for effectiveness, but according to people who study interpersonal relationships, people respond better to praise than criticism. I would love to hear from anyone with teens who has had positive experiences with encouraging positive characteristics!