From Louise-Ann Paris-Riviere MSc


Posted at : 15, Feb 2018 12:02 PM

ByLouise-Ann Paris-Riviere

As part of one of his poems,English author and poet James Allen penned the words, (the oak sleeps in the acorn).  Our children are like acorns, and within them sleeps the potential of a mighty oak tree. Just as a plant needs water, food and sunlight to grow, our children need to be nurtured also and it is up to us as parents and carers to believe in our little acorns and nurture them so that they grow into mighty oak trees.Essential to nurturing our little acorns, is facilitating the development of a strong sense of self confidence and inner resilience attributes which will help them pursue their dreams, face life’s challenges, bounce back from difficulties and have the confidence in themselves to be great at whatever they choose to pursue.

A simple and effective way of facilitating this development is by empowering our children through affirmations. An affirmation is a confirmation or validation of a truth. It is saying that this prior judgement or thought is true. In the case of your child it may not have been a prior judgement in their own minds but in yours. An affirmation can also do the inverse in that it will also disprove a prior judgement or thought.  We know the old play ground rhyme sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me. I remember repeating this so often as a child and teenager. But oh how falsean assertion it was and still is. Words are powerful and can harm just as badly and even sometimes far worse than sticks and stones can ever do. In their book ‘Words Can Change Your Brain’Andrew Newberg, M.D. and Mark Robert Waldman, explain that (a single word has the power to influence the expression of genes that regulate physical and emotional stress.) They state that, positive words can alter our genes, strengthen our brains and improve cognitive function. Conversely, one negative word can cause theamygdale,that part of the brain responsible for fear, to increase its activity,releasing stress hormones and neurotransmitters that interfere with the functioning of our brain. Imagine now the impact of positive words of affirmation on your children.


I know you may have heard of the power of using self affirmations for your own personal development. A very current point of discussion in modern day self help conversations.You may or may not have given any thought yet to affirming your child. So how does one affirm achild?  Practice repeating positive statements of affirmations to him or her. Say it gently and with confidence. Try qualifying the affirmation to them even with the simplest of examples so asto create a more concrete pronouncement. For example, instead of just saying (you are such a clever boy), support your affirming words with an example of when your child exhibited clever behaviour. E.g. (when you figured out how to use that app on the tablet this morning I was so very proud of you. You are such a clever boy).

You not only want to affirm your child, but you want them to learn through your example how to affirm themselves as well. Learning to repeat their own affirmations is far more powerful than the affirmations received from you. Confident self affirmations work, as they have the ability to program the mind into believing the stated idea. This is because of the work of the RAS or Reticular Activating System. In neuroscience, the RAS is the part of your brain that carries instructions received from the conscious mind to the subconscious mind. Our RAS does not know the difference between what is real or fantasy. As a result, it instructs us to fulfil the affirmations we give it.Whatever you confidently say to yourself with a supporting emotion attached is received by the mind as truth. The RAS can do a positive work with positive affirmations, but can also do destructive work with negative input. It is important that we begin affirming our children from a very young age so as to develop deeply rooted positive beliefs and restrict the development of negative self-limiting beliefs.


A recent report in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience provided scientific evidence in support of the effectiveness of repeating affirmations. With the use of magnetic resonance imaging they were able to show that participants who practiced affirmations (when compared with participants who didn’t) demonstrated increased activity in the particular regions of the brain responsible for the brain’s self processing and self valuation systems and went on to predict changes in future behaviours for these participants.


Why not begin a practice of affirming your child today.Attached are 10 statements of affirmation you can use to get you started.Affirm, empower and grow a mighty oak tree. Always remember that “The oak sleeps in the acorn” - James Allen.


Tip - It is important that we do not allow our own self-limiting beliefs to influence our children’s chances of becoming mighty oaks. Within the next few months we will further discuss self limiting beliefs, the importance of understanding ours, where they come from, how they influence the way we parent and what we can do about them.

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