My husband, Kevin, and I first introduced affirmations to our daughter when she was about two and a half years old. I know—that feels a little young, right? I thought that, too…until months later when I observed my kid trying and failing to do something on her own. I heard her whispering to herself, “I can do hard things. I can do hard things!” as she continued to try. After that, I was a believer in the power of positive self-talk. Just call me the Positive Affirmation Mama (trademark not pending) from now on.

Positive affirmations have been getting their much-deserved time to shine in the last several years, but is there any truth to them? Science says yes, in fact. Self-affirmation theory, coined by social psychologist, Claude Steele, is a psychological theory that suggests people are able to maintain their sense of self-worth by repeatedly telling themselves what to believe. Empirical evidence shows self-affirmation can help people cope with stress and may also help improve their performance and health outcomes. 

During my years working as a personal trainer and wellness coach, I often repeated to my clients, “The body achieves what the mind believes.” And more often than not, I noticed a boost in their confidence. But I don’t think positive self-talk is confined to the weight room. I think it has its place in our lives and in our children’s lives, too. While the days are long in these early years of being a parent, the years are short. Shaping the way my children think about themselves is my highest honor and priority as their mother. Here are a few affirmations I’ve said during my six years as a parent:

You can do difficult things. 

Your opinions matter.

You have a voice inside of our home.

You are loved just the way you are.

There’s nothing you can say or do to change my love for you.

You are not what you do.

You’re a good kid. 

Having feelings—no matter how big or small—is normal.

Your time and energy are invaluable.

You don’t have to be perfect to be powerful.

You are strong and confident even when you’re afraid.

People’s opinions of you may change, but what God thinks of you never will.

Do you have any affirmations you say to your kids? What would you add to this list? I encourage you to take some time this week to write your own list of affirmations, put them some place visible, and say them over and over to your kids (and yourself!). Let’s all be a part of a movement to nurture a generation of positive, self-affirming thinkers.