- Have affirmations for everything:
Affirmations have truly been transformational for my kids, especially my sensory-sensitive anxious 5-year old. It took us a few weeks to get into the habit of saying them on a daily basis and for me, it also took a minute to let go of the goofy feelings that sometimes come with the affirmation territory.
Now, my kids weekday morning routine consists of eating breakfast, getting dressed, brushing teeth and saying affirmations while they look at themselves in the mirror.
If you’re a nerd like me and are fascinated by brain science, do a little Googling on the power of “I am” statements, and read Mel Robbins’ book, The High Five Habit. In short, “I am” statements and high-fiving yourself in the mirror are crazy powerful ways to get your brain to concentrate and quickly change your attitude, mindset and behavior.
You can have affirmations for potty training, trying to get kids to stay dry at night, trying something new, not getting along with friends .. or even for every day playing outside. Literally anything that needs a little fuel and love.
I am strong
I am brave
I am smart
I am kind
I am good
I am funny
I can do this
I can do it, I can stay dry (our personal affirmation/rap for learning to stay dry at night)
I am a big kid
I am learning
2. Incorporate positive and educational shows and activities
You know that saying “you are what you eat?” Well, the same goes for what you consume. You are what you consume. There’s no shame in letting your kids chill out in front of the TV – just monitor what they’re watching because there’s a lot of weird ish out there!
There’s plenty of good shows and movies that are designed specifically to empower, educate and celebrate kids so choose more of those. Here are a few of our go-to shows that we love:
- Team Umizoomi on Amazon
- Blaze and the Monster Machines on Paramount+
- Bluey on Disney
- Story Time on Netflix
- Creative Galaxy on Amazon
- Ada Twist Scientist on Netflix
- Wild Kratts on Netflix
- ABC Mouse for educational tablet time
To balance out the TV and tablet time, have kids color, write in a journal, do a puzzle, play outside, read/look through books, play with dolls or stuffies, etc.
To make this part easy, join The Cool Kids Club: a $5/month membership of coloring pages, writing practice sheets and activities that you can print at home. Each month is a different theme and is all centered around empowering, educating and celebrating kids. Think affirmations meets self esteem building that’s educator approved, but without the goofy cartoon vibe. Each month also comes with conversation starters for parents to help guide the conversation to an empowering one.
3. Spend INTENTIONAL quality time together
- No phone
- Intentional eye contact
Can you tell I’m highlighting the intentional part?
This one is not a revelation but stop to think about how busy your days usually are and analyze how much time you spend with your kids. Now think about how much of that time was quality time? Quality time where you weren’t looking at your phone, you made eye contact, weren’t distracted doing other things and worked on something or playing together.
This might sound lame, but an easy place to start is to schedule it in.
With my very sensory-sensitive little guy, I realized that when I didn’t give him my intentional attention and eye contact, he was so much more needy, and whiny, and moody, and all the things toddlers are really good at.
So I make it a point that every day when my kids get home from daycare/school/camp, I spend the first 15 minutes giving them my undivided attention. If your like me and spent most of the day apart from your kids, this will help make them feel seen and a priority right when you reunite at the end of the day.
All that matters is that you find any amount of time to intentionally make them your priority. I promise they notice and it’ll build up that self esteem in the background.
4. Let them decide WHAT to play, but not HOW to play
If we want to raise kids that are compassionate and accepting of others, we can’t let them dictate our every move when we play with them.
I would guess the majority of parents are somewhat uncomfortable with pretend play and have no idea what to do, so we just go along with whatever they want us to do, right?
But think about what this indirectly teaches them.
By going along with literally whatever they say and do, it indirectly teaches them (to a certain extent) that they can control other people and that their way is the better way.
There’s a difference in throwing around ideas and making suggestions and controlling exactly what to do.
They learn how to be human beings by watching and playing with us. So speak up when they are telling you HOW to play and kindly demand that they play with you the way that you would want them to play with friend.
5. Pay attention to the art and messaging in their bedrooms or playrooms
Words matter and kids are so much smarter than we give them credit for. If you have positive quotes up in their room, talk to them about what it says.
Does it say Kindness Matters? Point to that quote when they aren’t being kind and need a reminder. Does an art piece say something about being brave? When they’re scared to do something new, point to that artwork and remind them to choose their brave side.
Talk to them about the art and words on the wall – they WILL remember it.
I’ll reiterate the fact that I’m a nerd about the brain science, and I can tell you that words matter and have a lasting impact on your subconscious mind.
6. End the day with talking about highlights
When you’re tucking your child in at night, recap the day and tell them what you loved, what made you happy or what you noticed:
“I thought you were really brave when you did this”
“My favorite part of my day when when you said/did this – I thought that you were really funny”
“I loved seeing you do/ask XYZ – that was really smart of you”
“My favorite part of the day was when you did this cute thing”