Before you write them off as corny or cheesy, consider the power of affirmations and positive talk and the effect it can have on young people. Whether you create an affirmations bulletin board or simply share them verbally with your students, these little nuggets of positivity can truly influence students and how they perform. In fact, according to an article in Psychology Today, “an emerging set of published studies suggest that a brief self-affirmation activity at the beginning of a school term can boost academic grade-point averages in underperforming kids at the end of the semester.” Sometimes, all you need are these short positive statements to reinforce students’ ability. Below, we share some of our favorites and why they work:
Being myself is glorious: The pressure to conform or to be “cool” can be overwhelming for kids and can lead to serious problems like depression, anxiety, poor performance, and social difficulties. Stressing the importance of uniqueness is a great reminder to kids that, as Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “to be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” Stressing this can make all the difference for the kid struggling to “fit in.”
I live in the moment: The idea of mindfulness is a great concept for young people to understand; not only can it help us to be appreciative of where we are, it can also reduce anxiety and help us stay grounded. The main idea is to observe your thoughts (positive or negative) without judging them or allowing them to take over and become stressful. This is a great lesson to learn early in life, and I wish I’d had a teacher explain it to me when I was young.
I treat myself with kindness: This is so important for students, who often have a tendency to be way too hard on themselves when they struggle. To the adolescent, a failing grade on a test can signal total failure and a skewed vision of what’s really happening. Being kind to yourself means accepting the fact that you will fail sometimes, and that to do so is human. This simple reminder can go a long way to ensuring that students give themselves the benefit of the doubt and treat themselves with dignity.
I respect other people’s boundaries: This makes for a great classroom rule. Kids often struggle to understand concepts like personal distance so reminding them to understand boundaries is important for overall classroom functioning and to create a safe learning environment for all students.
I focus on one thing at a time: There is so much pressure to multitask in our society despite the fact that research has shown that we’re actually much more effective when we focus on tasks one by one. This affirmation can help students to slow things down and stay organized, setting them up for good habits as they continue through school.
I keep improving: Don’t we all? Sometimes, though, it doesn’t feel that way. But from each struggle or shortfall, we learn and improve. To help our students accept difficulty, this is an important reminder that learning is a series of improvements and does not happen all at once.
I accept change: Whether this means a new classmate or teacher or a move into a different level of a class, students can often be unsettled by change. Teaching them to accept it as a natural part of life can help ensure that they are flexible and able to thrive in all different environments, even those that change.
I express anger appropriately: Much like understanding boundaries, knowing proper ways to express strong or unpleasant emotions is necessary in order for students to thrive in the classroom where sometimes things can be frustrating. Teaching coping skills and ways to deescalate can ensure a smooth-running classroom experience.
I matter: Letting young people know that they are important can help them to feel a purpose and to know that their efforts are truly appreciated. In the turbulence of youth, kids can sometimes feel that they’re not really that important or that going to school is just “going through the motions.” So, it’s incumbent upon us to remind them that they do, indeed, matter and are an integral part of the larger class.
Utilizing affirmations can enhance students’ experience in school, reminding them of their uniqueness, value, and ability. We hope you will use the affirmations above to inspire your students!
Written by Phil Lane