Positive affirmations are a powerful tool that promote positive self-talk. They are self-esteem boosters and anxiety reducers that lead to improved well-being for both children and adults.
Of course, this makes them a great addition to any classroom—especially for kiddos who struggle with confidence or may not receive much positivity at home.
Examples of positive affirmations include:
- I am enough.
- I am a good friend.
- I am kind.
Positive affirmations can also foster a growth mindset through statements like:
- My brain can grow!
- It’s okay for me to make mistakes.
- I can do hard things.
- I view challenges as opportunities for growth!
When we think of positive affirmations, we often imagine reciting statements like these in front of a mirror—and that doesn’t exactly sound like something that would excite or inspire most children. Luckily, there are tons of creative and fun ways to incorporate positive affirmations into your classroom.
Let’s look at a few ways you can fuel your students’ confidence with positive affirmations!
1. Model the use of affirmations yourself
One of the best ways for children to learn is by example. Start by modeling what affirmations look and sound like. Share a few of your favorite affirmations or explain how you use them in your own life.
If you aren’t accustomed to using affirmations, now is a great time to start. Integrate affirmations into your daily routine by choosing a consistent time (first thing in the morning, right after lunch, etc.) to repeat an affirmation out loud or in your head.
You can also provide sentence stems to help children understand how to create affirmations. Sentence stems may include:
- I am…
- I can…
- I will…
- I am willing to…
- I choose to…
Finally, affirm your students. Look them in the eyes and say affirmations like:
- You matter.
- You’re loved.
- You did it!
- That’s your best effort yet!
- You must have been practicing.
- You’re helpful.
- You make a difference.
By affirming your students, you model how they can affirm themselves. In addition, self-talk is shaped by the way our caregivers speak to us. As an influential adult in the lives of children, you can help shift negative self-talk in a more positive direction.
2. Hang posters that promote positivity
Make your classroom a welcoming, positive space by hanging positive affirmation posters. When students are surrounded by these messages on a daily basis, using positive affirmations becomes more natural.
The posters also remind you to use positive self-talk, affirm your students, and promote a culture of positivity in your classroom.
3. Create a space in the room for social-emotional/feeling awareness and provide access to positive affirmations
Whether you call it a Safe Place, a Composure Corner, or another name, it’s helpful to have a classroom space where children can go to regulate their emotions and calm down when they feel upset.
Ideally, the space would be equipped with items that can help children calm. This may include stuffed animals, storybooks, photos of students’ families, pillows or blankets, etc. You will also need to teach students how to use the space, along with calming techniques like deep breathing. Once children feel calm, they can rejoin the class ready to learn and have positive interactions with others.
If you have such a space in your room, equip it with positive affirmations. You can write positive affirmations on notecards or craft sticks. Students who are feeling sad, angry, or scared can benefit from reading these affirmations as they regain their composure.
4. Pass out affirmations and ask students to reflect
Write or paste affirmations onto a set of index cards, then pass them out at random. Ask students to reflect on how these affirmations are true in their own life (or not true).
Remember that the goal of affirmations is not to have students recite statements that they don’t believe. In fact, doing so can be harmful. The power of affirmations comes from internalizing these statements and believing them.
This exercise can help children internalize statements that do ring true for them which can also provide insight on which students may need extra help with their self-esteem.
5. Present affirmation cards to students after seeing them exhibit the behavior/idea on the card
Notice your students by presenting affirmation cards or Post-It notes after you see them demonstrate a positive affirmation (like, “I can do it if I keep trying!” or, “I get smarter when I practice!”). This encourages and celebrates your students and helps them notice their own accomplishments too. As they realize that they do live the positive affirmations you discuss in class, they’ll start to truly believe them.
When using this method, be sure you’re not giving affirmations to the same students over and over. Celebrate even the smallest successes of all students.
Another idea is to carefully select messages and give them to students who may benefit from hearing that specific affirmation.
Students who struggle academically often feel shut out or invisible at school, where only “A’s” and “B’s” are celebrated. Make a special effort to notice and appreciate when these students practice, try, improve, and demonstrate other valuable qualities like kindness and helpfulness.
You may have heard the saying, “What you focus on, you get more of.” By focusing on your students’ positive actions and accomplishments, you’ll reinforce these behaviors.
6. Display a daily or weekly affirmation
Choose an affirmation to prominently display either daily or weekly. Then have your students journal about the affirmation and/or discuss how they can apply the affirmation in their own lives. What does it mean? How would it look in action?
Encourage students to use the affirmations that feel true to them. As students become more comfortable using affirmations, have them take ownership by creating their own. Consider having a suggestion box for students to submit a daily/weekly affirmation.
7. Set it to music
Depending on the age of your students, they may enjoy setting their favorite affirmations to music. Students can create their own original songs or sing affirmations to the tune of popular songs.
Catchy songs tend to stick in our minds, and music can be a powerful motivator and mood booster.
Self-talk is shaped by the messages we hear and see daily. Help your students transform negative self-talk into positive self-talk by consistently using positive affirmations.
These activities are integrated into your daily classroom routines and don’t take away from instruction. In fact, they can even promote literacy and critical thinking.
Plus, confident students will be more willing to tackle challenges, try again, and learn from mistakes. They’re also more likely to treat their peers with kindness and respect.
Spending just a few minutes on positive affirmations weekly can provide your students with powerful benefits that last for a lifetime.