Try these magic words to raise a confident child

11. "I can ask for help when I need it."

positive affirmations for kids that build confidence

When my son turned four, his grandmother gave him a puzzle for his birthday—one of those 60-piece rectangular deals with a picture of dinosaurs. My son loved puzzles and had outgrown the chunky wooden puzzles of his earlier years. Brimming with pride and excitement, he sat down and got to work.

After a while, though, my son suddenly threw the puzzle aside and growled through his tears, "I can't do it! It's too hard!" He was angry at himself.

I took a moment to gather myself before calmly bending beside him. I offered to work with him, but he stomped off in search of something else, his excitement gone.

That night, when it was time to get ready for bed, I joined him at the sink.

"You see that little boy there in the mirror?" I asked him. "That little boy is a puzzle master. I have seen him practice and practice and get better and better at puzzles. Puzzles are not easy, but he is a hard worker. When he makes a mistake, he learns from it. Mistakes are okay. They help him. He is a puzzle master."

My son looked a little embarrassed and a little pleased at the same time.

"Tell him he's the puzzle master," I urged.

He blushed. "I'm the puzzle master," he murmured a bit sheepishly.

"Tell him mistakes help him learn."

"Mistakes help me learn," he repeated, his voice sounding a bit stronger.

"Tell him he's a hard worker."

"I'm a hard worker!" His chest puffed out.

"Tell him he can do it!"

"I can do it!" He was laughing now, standing tall and sticking his chin out proudly.

We repeated each of the phrases again and again, until they came easily and confidently. That night I heard him whispering to his younger brother, "I am the puzzle master, you know."

The next day, returning to the puzzle with a little encouragement and some more positive self-talk, I hoped that a switch had been flicked. I imagined him sitting down and magically completing the puzzle with ease. In my mind, we'd solved the problem.

Instead, there were no miracles. He still couldn't complete it.

What was different, though, was that he did not throw the puzzle or dissolve into a puddle of self-hating tears. When he was done working on it, he carefully pushed the completed section under his LEGO table and put the remaining pieces back into the box.

"I'm gonna save it for next time," he shrugged when he saw me watching.

My heart fluttered a bit with pride. This was the first time we'd used positive affirmations, but it wouldn't be the last.

What are positive affirmations?

Positive affirmations are a form of positive self-talk. When repeated often enough, this positivity can contribute to gains in self-esteem and overall positive thinking. When my son tells himself that he can work hard and overcome challenges, he replaces his negative thoughts with positive, happy thoughts that build self-confidence. If he says them often enough, he internalizes these positive things about himself, learning that he has the skills and knowledge to be capable, confident, and kind, even in the face of obstacles.

It's not just children who can benefit from positive affirmations. Practicing daily affirmations helps us all to replace the nagging voice inside that might tell us "I can't" with a positive mindset that tells us mistakes are OK and that we learn from them to overcome challenges.

How to use positive affirmations with your child

You can use affirmations with your child to encourage positive thought patterns and build a growth mindset. If your child comes across an affirmation that she truly does not believe to be true about herself, this is a great chance to have a conversation as a family around what that affirmation really means and whether it could become a self-truth over time. Affirmations work when they are practiced consistently, so create a routine around positive affirmations in your home and teach your child to practice it several times a day.

  1. To start, identify any negative self-talk that you'd like to change. In my case, I wanted to change my son's perception that he couldn't do his puzzle.
  2. Next, think of a positive way to change this thought process. I knew my son was frustrated because he made mistakes doing his new puzzle. He thought that mistakes meant he wasn't capable of doing it. I wanted him to know that mistakes are something we learn from and that, over time, his mistakes would help him learn to do the puzzle.
  3. Then, use the new, positive thoughts to create simple, positive affirmations that your child can repeat. Have your child practice these affirmations at least daily. Saying them into the mirror can make them especially powerful, and you can help by repeating them again to your child at bedtime.

Some families find it helpful to use affirmation cards so that remembering affirmations isn't part of the routine. Instead, your child can simply choose a card from the pile and read it to herself in the mirror. Families can even use these cards as jumping-off points for meaningful conversations together.

Positive affirmations to say with your child:

1. I can learn from mistakes.

2. I can help others.

3. I can do new things.

4. I can learn how to do this.

5. I can help myself.

6. I can think of great ideas.

7. I can be kind no matter what.

8. I can make others feel happy.

9. I can overcome challenges.

10. I can find beauty in anything.

11. I can ask for help when I need it.

For 40 more positive affirmations, see the printable list on GenMindful.

A version of this post was originally published on GenMindful.

Positivity and mindfulness take practice. Here are some of our favorite ways to do just that.

Sontakey 'I am bright' bracelet

sontakey kids bracelet

The sweetest reminder kept close enough that they'll never forget.


'Om the Otter'

Om the Otter

Through presence, compassion and breathing, Om the Otter provides little ones with the perfect introduction to a mindfulness practice that will help nourish the voice inside their head.


Big Life Journal

Big Life Journal

For slightly older kiddos, developing a growth mindset goes a long way in cultivating positivity. This guided journal is designed to be filled out with a loving "journal buddy" to help them face challenges with confidence.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

I felt lost as a new mother, but babywearing helped me find myself again

I wish someone had told me before how special wearing your baby can be, even when you have no idea how to do it.

My first baby and I were alone in our Brooklyn apartment during a particularly cold spring with yet another day of no plans. My husband was back at work after a mere three weeks of parental leave (what a joke!) and all my friends were busy with their childless lives—which kept them too busy to stop by or check in (making me, at times, feel jealous).

It was another day in which I would wait for baby to fall asleep for nap number one so I could shower and get ready to attempt to get out of the house together to do something, anything really, so I wouldn't feel the walls of the apartment close in on me by the time the second nap rolled around. I would pack all the diapers and toys and pacifiers and pump and bottles into a ginormous stroller that was already too heavy to push without a baby in it .

Then I would spend so much time figuring out where we could go with said stroller, because I wanted to avoid places with steps or narrow doors (I couldn't lift the stroller by myself and I was too embarrassed to ask strangers for help—also hi, New Yorkers, please help new moms when you see them huffing and puffing up the subway stairs, okay?). Then I would obsess about the weather, was it too cold to bring the baby out? And by the time I thought I had our adventure planned, the baby would wake up, I would still be in my PJs and it was time to pump yet again.

Slowly, but surely, and mostly thanks to sleep deprivation and isolation, I began to detest this whole new mom life. I've always been a social butterfly. I moved to New York because I craved that non-stop energy the city has and in the years before having my baby I amassed new friends I made through my daily adventures. I would never stop. I would walk everywhere just to take in the scenery and was always on the move.

Now I had this ball and chain attached to me, I thought, that didn't even allow me to make it out of the door to walk the dog. This sucks, I would think regularly, followed by maybe I'm not meant to be a mom after all.

Keep reading Show less

Time-saving formula tips our editors swear by

Less time making bottles, more time snuggling.

As a new parent, it can feel like feeding your baby is a full-time job—with a very demanding nightshift. Add in the additional steps it takes to prepare a bottle of formula and, well… we don't blame you if you're eager to save some time when you can. After all, that means more time for snuggling your baby or practicing your own well-deserved self-care.

Here's the upside: Many, many formula-feeding mamas before you have experienced the same thing, and they've developed some excellent tricks that can help you mix up a bottle in record time. Here are the best time-saving formula tips from editors here at Motherly.

1. Use room temperature water

The top suggestion that came up time and time again was to introduce bottles with room temperature water from the beginning. That way, you can make a bottle whenever you need it without worrying about warming up water—which is a total lifesaver when you have to make a bottle on the go or in the middle of the night.

2. Buy online to save shopping time

You'll need a lot of formula throughout the first year and beyond—so finding a brand like Comforts, which offers high-quality infant formula at lower prices, will help you save a substantial amount of money. Not to mention, you can order online or find the formula on shelves during your standard shopping trip—and that'll save you so much time and effort as well.

3. Pre-measure nighttime bottles

The middle of the night is the last time you'll want to spend precious minutes mixing up a bottle. Instead, our editors suggest measuring out the correct amount of powder formula into a bottle and putting the necessary portion of water on your bedside table. That way, all you have to do is roll over and combine the water and formula in the bottle before feeding your baby. Sounds so much better than hiking all the way to the kitchen and back at 3 am, right?

4. Divide serving sizes for outings

Before leaving the house with your baby, divvy up any portions of formula and water that you may need during your outing. Then, when your baby is hungry, just combine the pre-measured water and powder serving in the bottle. Our editors confirm this is much easier than trying to portion out the right amount of water or formula while riding in the car.

5. Memorize the mental math

Soon enough, you'll be able to prepare a bottle in your sleep. But, especially in the beginning or when increasing your baby's serving, the mental math can take a bit of time. If #mombrain makes it tough to commit the measurements to memory, write up a cheat sheet for yourself or anyone else who will prepare your baby's bottle.

6. Warm up chilled formula with water

If you're the savvy kind of mom who prepares and refrigerates bottles for the day in advance, you'll probably want to bring it up to room temperature before serving. Rather than purchase a bottle warmer, our editors say the old-fashioned method works incredibly well: Just plunge the sealed bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes and—voila!—it's ready to serve.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

Becoming a mother has been life-changing. It's been hard, tiring, gratifying, beautiful, challenging, scary and a thousand other things that only a parent would ever understand.

It is these life-changing experiences that have inspired me to draw my everyday life as a stay at home mom. Whether it's the mundane tasks like doing laundry or the exciting moments of James', my baby boy's, first steps, I want to put it down on paper so that I can better cherish these fleeting moments that are often overlooked.

Being a stay-at-home-mom can be incredibly lonely. I like to think that by drawing life's simple moments, I can connect with other mothers and help them feel less alone. By doing this, I feel less alone, too. It's a win-win situation and I have been able to connect with many lovely parents and fellow parent-illustrators through my Instagram account.

Keep reading Show less
Work + Money