As summer comes to a close, it’s time to help prepare our kids (and ourselves!) for the transition back to the classroom. For many kids, this includes back-to-school jitters. Even if your child is returning to a familiar place with familiar faces, first-day nerves can still make an appearance. They can trigger separation anxiety or social anxiety.
Fortunately, there are many ways to help kids deal with the transition, including the practice of daily affirmations. Numerous studies have found affirmations have a wide range of benefits, including stress-buffering effects.
Affirmations are particularly helpful in situations where our positive self-view is threatened, like not doing well on a test or feeling left out on the playground. In these situations, affirmations can bolster their sense of self-worth and their ability to cope with potentially negative situations. Here are some affirmations to practice with kids, tweens, and teens as the school year begins.
Affirmations for Young Kids
Affirmations are a practice that even young children can understand and participate in, especially if they are kept simple, such as:
I am important.
The one thing children want to feel more than anything else is seen. They want to know they’re an integral part of whatever is happening around them.
I am loved.
Love is the best emotional protection a child can have. There is no such thing as too much love when it comes to kids. Making sure they understand how valued they are can make all the difference.
I can do hard things.
If everything were easy all the time, we’d never feel the satisfaction of accomplishment. This goes for spelling tests as well as having the courage to make new friends.
I am kind.
Sharing concrete examples of when you’ve seen your child be kind can help them internalize this affirmation.
I am a good friend.
One of the most important parts of school is making friends. This affirmation reminds them that being a good friend is the first step to having good friends. Ask questions about what they like about their friends and why. This can help kids think through what being a good friend looks like in practice.
I can ask for help when I need it.
Schools are full of helpers, but sometimes kids need to feel like they have permission to ask for assistance.
I can learn how to do anything.
This is the whole point of school! And even if they don’t have a natural gift for, say, long division, framing it as something they haven’t mastered yet can change how they think about their skills and abilities.
I forgive and learn from my mistakes.
Remind them that we go to school to learn new things, so of course, we don’t know how to do everything right away. This also applies to getting in a fight with a friend or missing recess to make up a homework assignment they forgot about. Now is the time for them to learn how to navigate these situations.
Affirmations for Tweens and Teens
As kids move toward the tween and teen phases, their emotional lives become more complicated, and social pressures increase. This is a good time to introduce affirmations that address some of these pressures, like:
Problems are challenges that help me grow.
Contrary to what social media might have them believe, they don’t have to have everything figured out. Give them permission to struggle and grow from it.
My past self is the only one I can compare myself to.
Sadly, the disease of comparison starts early. Kids need to understand that they never know what’s going on with someone on the inside—and they can’t compare their own inside to another person’s outside.
My goal is progress, not perfection.
The pressure to succeed at school is now hitting harder and earlier than ever before. Many students struggle with perfectionism and its resulting mental health challenges. This affirmation can help kids keep things in perspective.
I am making good choices.
Helping kids to feel more confident in their decision-making skills is a great way to encourage good choices.
I am enough just the way I am.
Though older kids might not let on, they need to believe people can love them just the way they are—starting with their parents or caregivers.
The only person I can control is myself.
As kids enter the phase where they want to do whatever their friends are doing, this is a great reminder that they alone are responsible for their actions.
To thine own self be true.
It never hurts to throw in a little Shakespeare, and what could be more important than this statement?
While a serious practice, affirmations can be fun, too! Encourage your kids to create their own affirmations. Make up some of your own. Say them together over breakfast, in the car, or post them on the mirror. This is a journey you can take with your kids and one that benefits everyone.