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How Positive Words Help Kids Rewire their Brain for Wellbeing?

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Words have immense power; a beautiful compliment can uplift our mood, whereas a hurtful statement has the power to make us feel miserable. Words that we hear – and keep on hearing from others, ever since we were children, form our belief system and these beliefs become the guiding principles in life that provide direction and meaning in life. 

Extensive research suggests that positive words can change our mood, behaviour, physical health, and emotional wellbeing. The leading neuroscientists Andrew Newberg and Mark Waldman have stated in their book that a single word has the power to influence the expression of genes that regulate physical and emotional stress. The words we hear or use in our daily conversations impact our conscious and subliminal behaviour both. A simple affirmation uttered in the morning –I choose to be happy– sets the intention in our mind to focus on the positives of life despite adverse situations. So, why not enrich our vocabulary of positive words and share the power of affirmations with our children to spread joy?

What are affirmations, and do they really work? 

Most of us know that affirmations are positive statements that reinforce our positive beliefs and encourage us to act based on those beliefs. Affirmative statements can help us motivate, build self-worth, cultivate a positive outlook, overcome negative mental chatter and feelings when practised regularly. Many psychological theories and neuroscientific research suggest that positive affirmation can benefit us in many ways.[1]

However, many sceptical minds question whether affirmations really work? 

With the recent advancements in science, especially FMRI Scans, it is now possible to record how words impact the brain. Using positive, uplifting words like “love” and “peace” in our everyday lives can change our brains’ pathways and boost our cognitive reasoning[2]

When we change the way we use language, our course of thinking alters too. As we practise affirmations regularly, new neural pathways are carved in the brain, which ultimately helps us adopt a new belief system. The more we affirm our positive beliefs, the easier it becomes to control our negative emotions. 

Affirmations work miraculously in children too. It is much easier to cultivate positive habits in earlier years. A child’s brain is remarkably malleable in the early years of their life[3]. During this age, children develop several brain connections- neural synapses- through their everyday experiences. As adults, we play a vital role; our words and actions significantly impact their thoughts, feelings, emotions, beliefs and neurological architecture. Our mere opinions come across as facts to them. Everything they constantly hear, observe or practise creates and strengthens neural pathways that form belief systems and habits that eventually become the driving force governing their actions, reactions, and adulthood choices. 

Calming and encouraging words like ‘You can’ have a profoundly positive effect on children’s brains. They trigger the development and strengthening of neural connections between the regions that control emotion, cognition, and memory, ultimately enhancing their ability to manage and cope with their feelings, even the unpleasant ones. On the other hand, negative words such as ‘No’ can block their thinking systems.  

Affirmations are the potent tools to cultivate a positive belief system in children. By introducing affirmation at a young age, we can help children affirm their strengths and abilities. Carefully chosen positive statements can guide them overcome their fears or limiting beliefs and cultivate empowering beliefs, essential virtues, positive self-esteem, and a growth mindset. With regular practice, children can become confident in using positive statements to uplift themselves when facing adverse situation in life. By embracing this simple habit, we can help rewire a child’s brain for optimism and happiness that can benefit them in every sphere of life and beyond.

The best way to get started in harnessing the power of daily affirmations is to encourage your child to start telling them every day.  Keep practising and using those new pathways until they become their thinking style by forming and reinforcing new neural pathways.

[1] Positive effects of affirmations https://sites.lsa.umich.edu/sasi/wp-content/uploads/sites/275/2015/11/Critcher_AffPersp.pdf

[2] Words can change your brain- Words Can Change Your Brain | Everyday Health

[3]Brain Development in Children – The Early Years (parentingforbrain.com)

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