We need both praise and affirmation to help build a healthy self-image. Here is the difference: praise is a positive statement about your behavior. You did something well. Affirmation is approval for just being.
Praise without affirmation teaches us that love is conditional. We have to keep doing something (making good grades, remembering chores, etc.) or to maintain some trait (smart, funny, considerate, or whatever the trait may be) to earn love. Examples of affirmations are: “I’m glad you’re here. I love you just the way you are. I’m glad you’re a boy/girl. It’s nice that you have such strong ideas about what you want. It’s okay to make mistakes. All your feelings are okay with me. You can trust your own instincts. You don’t have to do tricks to please me. I love you no matter what.” I’m resolving now to affirm my kids every day.
Credit for the ideas summarized here goes to author and psychologist Ann W. Smith. If you liked this post, please leave a comment. What are some examples of affirmations that you use with your own kids, spouse, coworkers, or friends?