Two years ago, during my oldest child’s junior year of high school, it was at the conclusion of her volleyball season, she earned “Most Improved Player” which was a high accolade considering she stepped up and into a completely new position she had never played before as the setter…and then was recognized as one of the “Most Valuable Players” which was an unbelievably high honor considering she was the same girl that made varsity her freshman year with the knowledge that she may not play and in fact did not step foot out onto the court ONCE the ENTIRE season…
That 9th grade season the only time she stepped foot on the court during game time was when she warmed up before the game and congratulated the opposing team at the end of the game, all season long and that was IT. She didn’t see a single minute of playing time. So, while everyone saw her endlessly cheering her team-mates from the sidelines that season…what her father and I saw was quiet determination and hard work during the on AND off season as she set about the business of training, playing volleyball and the “can do, affirmative” conversations that lead her to learn the incredibly valuable life lesson that we have to stand by our decisions and to not give up.
“…she knew her time would come, it just hadn’t come yet!”
Did she get frustrated, of course she did…but she kept that behind closed doors and between her and I. She resolved herself to spend countless hours at every private, beach session, clinic, camp, played club, and decided to run high school track during her club season so it would translate to better speed, timing and jumping on the court…just to continue to perservere and get better at a sport she loved. She knew her time would come, it just hadn’t come YET!
In the end, those awards proved to her, you might not be THE best…but if you never give up at simply trying to be YOUR best…then your SPIRIT will not go unnoticed! And while that 9th grade season was a painful season to watch as a mom, – Ohhhh was it painful, but like I often reminded my husband, “if you think it’s hard for us, think how much harder it is for her, yet if she can do it, we can be by her side every step of the way,” and we were! Supporting her and the program, sitting at every game, cheering just as loudly as parents who’s daughters were playing and volunteering every step of the way – we also didn’t know at the time, that season would turn out to be one of the single greatest sporting season that could have unfolded during our developing daughter’s life…because it taught her more about life, both on and off the court then almost any life lesson… She learned grace, poise, determination, positive self talk and the life long strategy of YET!
“…if they can handle the tough stuff, they can pretty much handle anything in life…”
Fast forward two years and my three babe’s are still growing, changing, trying new things, developing, finding their truths, excelling, becoming independent and yup – still stumbling plenty too – I hope & pray to be raising children who will one day be adults that continue to have an inner voice that speaks of determination, not doubt!
I am pretty sure all mom’s hope to be raising children who will have the quiet determination, while learning the incredible value of life’s lesson to not give up because if they can handle the tough stuff, they can pretty much handle anything in life as it strengthens their grit, humility, spirit, grace and overall determination.
Most parents know that speaking overly negative to a child can influence that child’s idea of how they see themselves, their self-image and possibly cause them to behave differently when learning something new or just tackling life. So we avoid going there as much as possible, not to say we are perfect…but we try! Yet, it turns out, a child’s personal negative self talk can have a similar impact.
I have loads of stories, much like my oldest but beyond the biggies in life…we’ve all heard those little grumbles or mumbles coupled with half hearted attempts or a frustrated demeanor or maybe instinctively we just sensed it. After all, they are tackling big and little hurdles daily! Some we see, some we don’t, some we know about and some we won’t but whatever it might have been, for some reason we just felt the need to say something affirming to our kids!
So, I asked my kids to come up with some positive affirmations they recall me having said to them over the years that have helped lift their spirits or simply made them have a feel good, warm moment that brought them round. Maybe it wasn’t even over something that was a particular struggle or perhaps it was, regardless…between my three, (now ages 12, 13 & 18) we had an in depth conversation where two of them recounted their favorites while I typed and my oldest texted me hers.
As a result, here is their compiled list (12 per child) and insights as to what they felt made them feel more positive, upbeat and have liked or felt were helpful to them most over the years…and even say to themselves now too when needing that extra can do boost!
36 Kid Tested Mindset Affirmations
1. That was a good job!
(My son loves this one most, he says “good job” pretty much covers it all. He’s kinda right.)
2. I am proud of how you did that OR I am proud of you for managing that yourself!
3. You are loved, and don’t forget it!
(My girls like this one.)
4. You help make this family whole!
(They all like this one!)
5. I am sorry, I made a mistake. Turns out you were correct!
(They LOVE when I admit I am wrong and apologize for it.)
6. Don’t compare yourself to others.
7. Relax! Don’t be so hard on yourself.
(This is a favorite of my middle child, who happens to always set her personal bar really high!)
8. I’ll always be here for you or I am with you while you figure this out.
(They all like this one, they say it makes them feel safe when trying something new.)
9. It makes me so happy to see you follow through on that!
10. It’s okay.
(Turns out, they all three tell themself ”it’s okay” now)
11. I love you just the way you are.
12. You can try again next time, it’s okay!
13. We are in this together.
14. I respect your thoughts on that. Tell me why you feel that way?
(They all like feeling respected and heard, it makes them feel valued even when frustrated)
15. Do you need hug?
(Okay, to be honest, this one is a crap shoot yet my middle kid gave me great insight as to why! She said that while at the time of the frustration this phrase actually kind of makes her more annoyed yet comforted too, because she’s upset or frustrated, so she kind of wants to reject the hug because she’s annoyed and wants to lash out (so me and my hug become an obvious target) but really deep down she wants the hug and so by me asking, it allows her to be comforted and soothed before she tackles it again.)
16. Are you having a hard day? It’s okay if you are, we all do.
17. You were right!
(Who doesn’t like being told they were right?!)
18. You mean the world to me.
19. You always have such great ideas!
20. You don’t have to be perfect.
21. I love you more.
(Fav of all three)
22. You make me smile.
23. You are so funny and make me laugh!
(My son likes to make jokes, it’s his coping skill when frustrated but you have to pay attention to catch them. He likes when I catch them on the fly.)
24. You are one clever kid to think of that!
(My son loves this one because he loves being told he’s clever!)
25. There is only one of you in the entire world.
26. I was blessed the day God brought you to me. (Fan favorite of my oldest)
27. Everything about you is beautiful. (Another favorite of my oldest, who doesn’t like being told their beautiful in every way?!)
28. Congratulations on (fill in blank)! You did it!
29. You’re growing up to be a wonderful young (fill in blank – ex: kid, child, boy, girl, woman)
30. Wow, you did an awesome job on that!
31. Thank you honey, that was very helpful!
32. You got this kid!
(My middle one says this to herself all the time now, especially at her volleyball practices and even to her team-mates in huddles, only replace “You” with “We” and drop the kid. It’s like her battle cry!)
33. You can do this!!!
34. I am one blessed Momma! (Fan fav)
35. Thanks buddy!
(I call my son buddy a lot and he likes it!)
36. Don’t sweat this, it will come!
The Single Greatest Strategy is YET!
However, I think for the best results when teaching optimism, grit, and the necessary perseverance we like to see in our kids as they continue their effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties or potential failure, the word YET is truly magical! I’ve seen it’s power and used it first hand, multiple times!
”…something seems to be bothering you, what’s up?”
This is kind of how it goes in my house. If/when I hear or sense them in that funky mind space… I ask what’s going on and engage in conversation about the source of frustration. Avoid the hazardous yes/no questions or the conversation has a good likelihood of being over very quickly and it will deflate your attempts.
So if/when I hear my child engage in negative self-talk, I might ask, “What’s going on, you seem frustrated?” or “Something seems to be bothering you, what’s up?” The reply, “I can’t get these Algebra problems figured out! I am no good at this!”
At which point, I add “…yet” to the end. Such as, “You can’t get these Algebra problems figured out YET…” or “You aren’t good at this YET…”
EMPATHY not sympathy!
Then I quickly follow up with EMPATHY!!! Not sympathy…no one, including our kids, really like the impersonal gestures of sympathy but empathy is a whole different story! Let your kid know you are with them and hear their voice on the matter by saying “I can see that you ARE very frustrated.” or “It seems like you’re nervous that you won’t figure this out.”
Now flip it quick before they have a chance to get mentally bogged down! Ask your child a question to engage their problem-solving skills so they can move forward in a positive way. For example, “How can you try this a different way?” or “What part isn’t making sense yet?” or “Is there somewhere you can go to get the necessary help?”
There is NO Exact Parent Proven, Sure Fire Method!
Now let’s be honest, there is no one fail safe way we moms can immediately stop all negative self-talk in our kids…but by adding “…yet” it is a simple and positive response that can help shut that pesky negative self-talk down and flip it into a positive mantra for your child. The more often you guide/model/navigate them through, the more often they will practice, until eventually you will find them doing it themselves! It’s like a gradual release… I do, We do, You do!
Thanks to these mindset motivators, lots of problem solving situations and conversations – my kids have internalized powerful, positive affirmative mantras and a way to self-talk their way through the hard work and the proven knowledge that sticking with a problem will continue to help their brains grow – and will help them develop in to the people they want to be. I see and sense their successes with it regularly, after all, they are tackling big and little hurdles daily, whether I am with them or not!
…and as always,Go in love,