Have you ever heard your child put themselves down or say that they’re not good at something? Maybe something like, “I’m not good at drawing”, “I hate reading” or “I’m the slowest in my class.” Did you say or do something to convince them otherwise?
“I’m not good at math, I hate math” was what my daughter used to say about her math homework two years ago. Now when I ask about her math homework, her response is, “I did it already, it was easy.”
Now I’m not going to tell you that I gave her a mantra which magically empowered her math skills.
** “Ohm….I am a math rock star….ohm…oh yes I am….” Tada, math is easy for her!**
I will tell you that starting your children off with mantras and affirmations at a young age will empower them in all areas of their lives. Anxiety in children is on the rise, think back to when you were a kid, did you know anyone with high anxiety? I didn’t know anyone when I was a kid but now I know at least 10 kids that have high anxiety.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, lifetime prevalence of anxiety is roughly 25% of 13 to 18 year olds. According to Dr. Jeffrey Bernstein, in his article “The Rising Epidemic of Anxiety in Children and Teens”, “Girls are more likely than boys to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Median age of onset is 11 years old. Anxiety is among the earliest of developing pathologies. Anxiety in children and teens often overlaps with depression.”
Anxiety can lead to self-esteem issues, panic attacks, eating disorders, even suicide.
Mantras & affirmations are a tool that you can use with your children to empower them when they’re feeling anxious or down. For young children, starting them with mantras and affirmations will give them a greater sense of security about themselves.
What is a mantra?
What is a mantra and why should you use it? According to Webster’s Dictionary, it is:
“a sound, word, or phrase that is repeated by someone who is praying or meditating”
“a word or phrase that is repeated often or that expresses someone’s basic beliefs”
I use the word mantras and affirmations interchangeably although there is a distinction. Mantras can be a word (i.e. “peace), sentence or even sound (“om”) repeated over and over. Affirmations are positive statements but are not necessarily said repeatedly.
I like using short, positive affirmations repeatedly which is why I use those words interchangeably. Go with me on this one =).
How to use mantras to help your children:
Below are a few ways that I have used mantras. Essentially you are instilling positive self talk into your day.
I recently heard that we are programmed by 8 years old with our subconscious identity. The subconscious identity is formed by the messages we receive from anyone and anything around us. Young children don’t know how to filter what they hear and see, so they subconsciously adopt identity beliefs which may or may not serve them as they go through life.
For building self-esteem and values…
Instead of telling my kids what they are (i.e. “You are smart), I have them repeat after me:
I am smart
I am strong
I am kind
Select words that resonate with your child. For instance, instead of “I am smart”, they could say, “I am a hard worker”.
Mantras have always served as an effective tool for keeping me focused.
However, using it as a daily exercise for them hadn’t crossed my mind until I saw the movie, “The Help”. The little girl is repeatedly told, “You is smart, you is kind, you is important.”
The housekeeper wanted to instill this mantra into the neglected little girl. This is when it dawned on me that I should use mantras with my kids every day, not just occasionally.
For making good choices…
When my youngest child started going to school, sitting down for circle time or other activities was new for her and her classmates. I talked to my daughter about being a good helper at these times. When her teacher is helping another student, she could be a good helper by being a good listener.
I said this mantra and she repeated it:
I am a good listener
I am a good helper
I make good choices
Once you pick up a rhythm and start saying it together, it feels so empowering and bonding.
I also visualize these characteristics being embedded into my child while I’m saying the words. Similar to meditation, you will get more out of the experience if you visualize what you are affirming.
A great way to help the mantra stick with your child is to combine it with something physical. Why does this help? Because attaching the words to a physical activity focuses your child on what you are doing and leaves them less open to distraction. For example, you can rub your child’s back while you’re saying this or do it while brushing their hair.
Your child can do jumping jacks, clap their hands or even stomp their feet. You can squeeze their hands or even do a little dance. Do something that feels good for your child.
For reminders of how special they are…
I am special
I am beautiful
I am a great sister
You know your child better than anyone. If they’re feeling put down from an experience they had that day, you can give them this self-care exercise. When I want to lift my kids up, I remind them of the beautiful things I see in them. Kids feel things so intensely, giving them specific reminders of what makes them who they are will help them when you’re not around to tell them.
I am a great daughter
I am a great friend
I am loved
For reaching their goals…
Once kids start doing this, they will want to adopt their own mantras. What I love about this is that unknowingly, we all have something in our subconscious identity holding us back. Children looking for positive mantras to adopt, are instilling something positive in their life. Each child’s mantra can look very different.
I am a great student
I am a great dancer
I am really creative
This is a fun discussion to have with your kids, because you will find out what is really important to them. Mantras are a great gateway into further goal setting activities with children. Think back to your own childhood, did you have any positive affirmations or mantras? If you could step back in time, what mantras would you give your younger self?
How to use mantras to help you:
To lift your spirit…
Have you ever had a time where you scolded your child or were not your best self? You’ve had a long day but you made sure your child had a great dinner and everything went well with their bedtime routine. But he just wants one more story so you read him one more story.
You think, “Great now it’s bedtime and I can finally have time to myself” and then he’s up because he needs to use the bathroom. Or wants a drink of water. And then he needs the bathroom again and you lose your cool. Am I the only parent who has gone crazy after a long day of keeping it together?!
For times like these, when I’ve lost my cool and I’m feeling terrible afterwards, I need to mentally pick myself up.
I am patient
I listen to my children with love
I am a great Mom
Another one that I like:
I am happy
I am strong
My heart is full
I have used mantras for different things for myself over the years – weight loss, achieving goals, being a better mom, etc.
I am healthy
I am vibrant
I am fit
We all receive direct and indirect messages daily. Some messages affect us more than others. Some of them affect us and we don’t even realize it. Having a daily mantra that you sprinkle throughout your day not only keeps you focused on your goals, it expands into your everyday life.
When to do your mantras:
Okay if you’ve made it this far, maybe you’re considering incorporating mantras into your life. Or maybe you have done them before but they never stuck.
The easiest way to incorporate mantras into your life, is to do them while you’re doing a specific daily activity. By doing this, you don’t need to find time to do your mantras because you’re pairing them with an activity that you’re already doing.
Aim for doing this at least 3 times per day and you will see that after a week, the mantras pop up when you least expect them. They may pop up when you’re sitting in traffic or waiting in line. And that’s great – they’re reminding you to focus on what’s important.
With your kids…
– In the morning, you want to set your kids on with good intentions, do the mantras with them while brushing their hair.
– Some children benefit from a sensory brushing protocol, adding a mantra while brushing them is a perfect way to fit it into their day. To find out if your child will benefit from brushing, consult an occupational therapist that is familiar with this method.
– When you’re walking with your child, they may even want to skip or gallop while they’re saying it.
– Have them say it while they write the infinity sign in the air with their arm outstretched, this one does take extra time but is so good for their brain development. How does this help brain development? Because you’re having your child cross their midline which helps the different sides of the brain communicate with each other. This helps with many daily tasks such as writing, concentration, gross motor skills, etc.
– At bedtime, when you’ve gone through their bedtime routine, going through their mantras is a great way to end the day. Full of positive affirmations and gratitude for who they are.
– In the morning, you can do it while brushing your teeth. Start your day with your mantras rather than having your mind go through all the things that you have to do today.
– When you’re getting water. I don’t know about you, but I drink a lot of water. I drink out of a water bottle every day so I don’t have to worry about spills and also because I will drink more this way. When I’m standing at the refrigerator filling my water bottle, I go through my mantras. It will become automatic for you to go through your mantras whenever you get water.
– When you’re waiting – in line at a store or for your kids to get out of school. You’ve got 2 minutes to wait – doing your mantras is time well spent.
– When you’re walking – this won’t work if you’re with the kids. But if you’re walking by yourself or walking the dog, this is a great time to go through your mantras.
Sometimes I just want to quiet my mind, at these times my mantra is:
Repeating these words in my mind blocks out other things that may be causing me stress. Do you have a favorite mantra or affirmation? Do you have ones that you use with your children?
Teaching children mantras and affirmations that they recite each day will plant the seed for positive self identity. By doing this every day, you will strengthen their sense of self and they have a better chance of rejecting negative messages that come their way.
Your child may want to offer you a mantra. If he/she does, that’s wonderful! They want to lift you up the same way that you have uplifted them. My youngest started saying, “I am a good mommy, I am love, I am you.” I wasn’t sure what she meant by the last part but my heart was full when she said it.
FREE WORKSHEET – I like having reminders handy so I created a free worksheet which has my favorite mantras/affirmations. There is a template so you can write your own as well. Cut them out and put them where you will remember to recite them such as your bathroom mirror, the refrigerator, or your computer screen. You can find them in my FREE resource library. Go here to access it!
If you had all the time in the world, is there something that you would like to accomplish? Maybe learn how to play the piano or take dance lessons? Get in better shape? Create lasting traditions and have more quality time with your family? Are you so exhausted by everything that you have to do that you can’t even imagine what you would like to do? If so, I encourage you to start dreaming and grab the free downloads from my resource library so that you can get back your time and stay focused on your goals each day. Get access to my FREE resource library here.