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(206) The Surprising Reasons Affirmations will Empower Your Kids

In this episode, Sara and Danielle discuss the protective factors for children's mental health and ways to support kids in dealing with tough situations. They mention the use of affirmations and power thoughts as tools for empowering kids and helping them develop a positive self-image. Danielle notes that the parent-child relationship is unique and that parents have the ability to set the standard for their interactions and the messages they send to their kids. She also emphasizes the importance of repetition in helping kids internalize positive messages and build strong neural pathways in their brains. The conversation touches on the idea that our thoughts can have a significant impact on our coping skills and ability to handle stress, and that helping kids understand the power of their thoughts can help them develop resilience and navigate the challenges of the world.

Hello friends and welcome to the Raising Resilience podcast. My name is Sara, I am the founder of Mighty and Bright. And I am here with Danielle Bettmann, who is the parenting support coordinator for the Raising Resilience Program. We are talking about the protective factors for kids mental health. So basically, what are the things that research says will protect our kids from having mental health crises in the future?

What can we do at home to help protect our kids from this scary world? And we are not talking about the scary world ... because it's scary. And we already know. So we're talking about what we can actually do.

And one of the things that we do in month six is affirmations. And it's fascinating, actually, the research is really solid that affirmations work. And it can feel kind of like hokey, I think, especially as grownups like, you know, you put a post it note or you write on your mirror or something like it's kind of embarrassing when your friends come over.

Like I'm pretty.

Exactly, it can be kind of embarrassing, but studies show it works. So do it, even if it means you take that sticky note off your mirror when friends come over. So Danielle, let's talk a little bit about kids empowerment, and how we can use power thoughts and power poses to help our kids deal with tough stuff.

Danielle 1:32
Yeah, this was a practice that I started to implement with the clients I work with. And I have nine, nine and eight year old daughters myself. So I am trying to learn and do everything that we're talking about at home as well. And I work with families that have kids from age one to seven. And the beginning of this practice was truly being able to give a tool into parents hands to help them be intentional with the messages they're trying to send. Because everything we're doing is sending a message all behavior is a form of communication. But the parent child relationship is specifically unique because of the attachment bond that we form with them, we get to kind of imprint and set the standard for our relationship where they learn a lot about themselves, through how we interact with them. And isn't It's very calming and reassuring for parents to be able to say, there might be times that I'm not sending the perfect message, there might be times that I am saying things I don't mean or showing up in ways that aren't perfect. But at least once a day, I am getting really intentional about the way that I talk to you. And ways that I hope that you talk begin to talk to yourself like this and kind of wiring their internal self talk or the way that they begin to see their own capabilities or see their own self image that is empowering, that is maybe a little bit more filled with self compassion, or having a growth mindset. And when we are able to kind of share these types of thoughts with our kids, they take them on like a sponge, because their brain is formed to do is they don't have a filter where we do where we start to really think about like, well, that's probably not true. And actually so and so's mad at me. So really, I'm not good at this. And here's all the reasons why they really pretty much take the world as is up until their you know, subconscious is kind of fully formed. And then after that, the biggest way to impact their subconscious is through repetition. And so when we're able to send home the same similar message and similar wording over and over and over again, it really does create a very strong neural pathway in their brain that says, you know, this is the way that I think this is the way that I am this is the way I see myself, this is the way I show up in the world. And this is what tools are available to me. And when we are able to help our kids harness that understanding of the power of our thoughts. That that really unleashes like a whole new realm of capabilities for coping with stress and dealing with the hard things of life because we're able to set ourselves up for so much better, more accurate understanding that doesn't just like pour a whole bunch more gasoline on the fire. It really helps us like find clarity and next steps. Yeah,

Sara 4:35
I think one of the things I would just like to point out because my daughter is older now— she just turned 12 and I have been working on these things with her for a long time. I think I saw a meme a long time ago that got me way stressed out. But basically that the voice like the way that we talk to their kids becomes their inner voice. And I wanted to make sure that I I mean, you find these things online. And a lot of the time, it's a lot of pressure to say things just the right way and do things just the right way, you're not going to do that you're not going to do that. But that one really got me because it was very open ended. And it wasn't like I don't say this do say this sort of, sort of thing. And so I wanted to encourage my daughter to have some of these thoughts that she could depend on and really educate her about the fact that our thoughts have an impact on our experience, and that the stories that we tell ourselves, especially after something, if we focus on the negative, that becomes what we remember about that situation. And that becomes our life story.

And so this becomes really powerful to like, kind of take a step back sometimes to like if something is wrong, and your kid is like, really focusing on that wrong thing, to just kind of take a step back and say, hey, you know, is there a way that we could think about this a little bit differently. And now I am noticing that my daughter has truly taken this lesson, and is implementing it into her day to day life consciously. And when I saw that she was doing that, I thought, I just feel like I want it parenting today, like that, like all of those years of doing this has finally paid off because the comparison of how who she is in seventh grade, to I was in seventh grade is night and day. And who I was in seventh grade, which was someone with low self esteem, who got picked on and didn't feel any sort of power or control over my own emotional experience, or, you know, those stories that I told myself developed into my way of looking at the world that took a lot of therapy to get through. And so to feel like these kinds of skills that I've taught my daughter have paid off is really healing for me to see. But to just kind of take a step back and and say like, this is not, by the way about finding silver linings and things, which we do talk about in, in this month's, you know, lessons, is this is not about finding the silver lining, and invalidating the experience, your very real experience that your child is having in a situation. So if they aren't, yeah, yeah, if they have are having an issue with a bully, this is not you saying to them, oh, hey, Jimmy, like, I'm sorry, but let's take a positive view of this kid.

Danielle 7:38
And everything's fine. 

Sara 7:42
This, that's not what we're talking about, we're talking about empowering them to be able to have more control in a situation and understand that their thoughts impact their experience, and they are capable of finding solutions to problems and solving the problem, rather than being the victim of a certain situation. So you are validating their experience. And then once they have experienced that emotion and move through it, you're taking that and trying to look at it in a different way and be more solution oriented about it, which is empowering them to, you know, cope better with what's going on and not just accept it for what it is.

Danielle 8:29
Right? Yes, totally. It's not just like a cupcakes and rainbows kind of thing. Because those emotions do need to be processed. And those are we haven't built for boxes for that. So those are, those are important skill sets that we want to be able to empower our kids with. But it's also they aren't born with perspective, they aren't able to understand that they do have, you know, solutions at their hand and that they can be solution orientated. And then they can take responsibility for you know, repairing a relationship or cleaning up a mess or you know, whatever, they just jump to that emotional reaction. And we can help empower them with more perspective so that they can be able to know what that looks like to take those next steps and know what thoughts they have that are serving them, and accurate and what thoughts they have that are a little bit twisted and tangled and not totally accurate as well.

Sara 9:24
Yes. So in this month, we are focusing on what those power thoughts are to make your kids feel more capable of dealing with the day to day and we also were taking some of the research about power poses, which is another thing that can be kind of embarrassing if you're doing it in front of other people. But basically, and we we linked to all of this research, but there was a viral TED talk of a researcher who was talking about how basically putting your hands on your hips like Superman can actually make you feel more capable and and later people were trying to refute, you know that this actually works. And then she came back with a whole bunch of more research that was showing that, in fact, it does truly work. And so we're introducing these concepts of what what these power poses are, you can take them, you know, and go into the bathroom privately and do them, where no one can see you. But if it's, it's a tool that your kids can learn, when they are faced with something that is maybe feeling intimidating to them, and that has been proven to actually work in helping them feel more capable.

Danielle 10:41
Mm hmm. And they do I, you know, do important phone calls, presentations, things like that, I can feel a shift in my energy. And I think that energy is what comes across, especially virtually it's kind of all I have. So don't discount the power of something that's seemingly so simple, because it works with how we're wired. And it really becomes something that, again, we can learn about ourselves and knows in our toolkit of things that help us handle when things are challenging, or a little bit scary or intimidating. And for our kids to know that like they're going into a big test or you know, standardized test week, or that they have to dive off the high dive or, you know, these these big things that they're facing in their lives, that they know that there's something that they can do about it, that helps them feel better about it, and helps them feel more empowered, that they can do it. I think every parent wants to give them every tool that we have.

Sara 11:45
Absolutely. And the cool thing is the empowerment tokens that we have the power thoughts, they we have this little hook where they can like hang it in their room, or they can put it in their pocket and just feel the power of that. And I have actually, I don't know if I told you this, Danielle, but I had someone reached out to me who took who took her power thought her she stole her child's power thought and took it took it with her to chemo, her first chemo. And she said it was we can do hard things. And she said it made a really big difference. And she was kind of surprised by how much it made her feel better. But those are the kinds of experiences that we we want our kids we want ourselves to feel empowered going into. And, you know, these thoughts that we can say to ourselves over and over again really did make a difference?

Dara 12:39
They do, they do! Yeah, well, we're kind of it's like our coding, you know, like our software that we're running off of. So when we can influence that to be able to make a more positive outcome. It's really powerful.

Sara 12:52
Absolutely. Thank you so much for being here with us today. If you have any questions about the research behind this or any questions about power thoughts or power poses, feel free to ask if you visit mighty and you can click on the button that says ask a question and we will answer it for you. So thanks again and we will talk to you next time.