Is there a culture of discouraged negativity in your home? And is that negativity quickly contagious? One person becomes negative and discouraged and in no time they “share” or offload that attitude onto anyone nearby. Especially in light of all the stressors you may be facing, it can be really tough to change momentum and build a culture of encouragement in your family!
So what’s the answer?
You’ve probably heard about self-affirmation before, as it’s a common topic in a lot of self-help literature. Unfortunately, if you’ve heard people making hollow or forced sounding self-affirmations, you might have mixed feelings about it. An early pioneer in this movement suggested that you repeat to yourself, up to 20 times per day, “Every day, in every way, I’m getting better and better.” Sounds more like wishful thinking than “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15) to yourself. And research shows that if you try to repeat affirmations that you don’t really believe, it can increase not decrease discouragement.
But you and your kids can learn to speak the truth in love to yourselves as you celebrate things that went well. You can be confident in the biblical fact that God made each of you unique (Psalm 139: 13-14) and did a great job at it! God wants you to understand and enjoy the gifts you’ve been given, and be confident in how He comes alongside you and helps you grow in using those gifts!
In a hectic world, teach your kids to self-affirm what went well
Life is fast. It’s easy to focus on what goes wrong, and miss noticing what we do well. It’s even harder to notice God’s role in strengthening us to learn and grow.
When our children were young, we often felt burdened by the logistics of making life work and solving all the problems that arose. We frequently struggled to notice what went well, or connect joyfully with our kids. We were often discouraged, in spite of our good intentions to bring encouragement and joy into our home.
“I feel happy of myself!”
This delightful 1-minute video of a young boy learning how to ride a bike was a simple tool we used to teach our kids to value what they did well. We started playing this video repeatedly with our young adult kids when it first came out in 2011 and enjoyed it so much it became part of our family culture. When someone felt good about something they had done, that person would often comment, “I feel so happy of myself!!” And if we were together, we would spontaneously sing phrases from the song for each other for little accomplishments along the way.
If you enjoyed the original, you might really like this music mash-up! (Note: it will be stuck in your head all day.)
While it would have been amazing to have this phrase rooted in our family when the kids were younger, we’ve found it is never too late to build a culture of self-affirmation!
Self-affirm the joy of walking in our gifts
Then it occurred to us that the phrase “I feel happy of myself” describes the God-given joy of walking strongly in our gifts, working hard at something, conquering a challenge, or being a blessing to someone. So let’s celebrate well, and give God the credit for being our teacher as we learn and grow.
Use this video to teach simple self-affirmations to your kids
To get an encouraging momentum going in your home, you can share these videos with your kids, and then ask, “What is something that you are ‘happy of yourself’ about?” And then, “How do you think God might have helped you learn or accomplish that?”
In case your kids can’t answer, have a few things in mind that you’ve noticed them doing well. Simply talking about what they’ve done well will often strengthen that accomplishment and increase the likelihood it will happen again.
Self-affirmation is good for parents too
Don’t forget to frequently ask yourself, “What parenting moment am I ‘happy of myself’ about?” There are many things you are doing well as a parent, so stop and encourage yourself, even out loud. “I feel happy of myself that I calmed down and asked you a question, instead of yelling.” “I feel happy of myself that I stopped doing dishes and snuggled with you, because that was most important.” And then maybe, “I wonder if God prompted me to do that?”
Your self-encouragement will help you do those things more often, and is also a great example to your kids!
So whether “What are you happy of yourself about?” becomes part of a dinner/bedtime routine for your family, or this question happens spontaneously, it can help you bring joy to your family. You’ll gradually build a culture of encouragement and gratitude for God’s presence with you.
The Holy Spirit is present in our accomplishments, big and small! So let’s celebrate that and give God the praise and honor!
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