Articles by Month: February 2019
Our FOCUS Fort Myers speech therapists must admit: We were a little heartbroken upon learning there would be no more Sweethearts Conversation Candy Hearts this Valentine’s Day (MISS U!). In addition to the fact they can be used in a bunch of fun kids’ speech-language therapy exercises, we had a great idea for a special speech therapy line: TALK 2 ME. I LUV SPCH. WORD UP. LETS LINGO. I HEAR U. SLPZROCK. Not to worry, though – our speech therapists have other ways of making you talk…
In the spirit of spreading the love (despite being candy heart-less), our speech therapists are sharing some of our favorite positive affirmations for kids. Positive affirmations are the kind of declarations that go a step beyond praise and shine a light on something that is special and inherent in that child. Instead of simply, “Nice work!” we say, “You are a hard worker!” Instead of, “Good job on that one!” we say, “You are so brave to try new things.” Rather than just, “Cool picture!” we might say, “You have such a creative mind!”
Praise and compliments obviously are great too, but positive affirmation is more specific. It shines a light on something that is both inherent and special to that person. It acknowledges the challenge and validates the effort. Positive affirmation can help a child gain the confidence to keep going – even when it gets hard. Research shows that children who receive regular positive affirmations will believe, internalize and be motivated by it. In speech therapy, we often see them excel farther and faster.
The positive affirmation boost is backed by extensive research. One analysis published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine found that children with cancer who practiced self-affirmation were overall more optimistic and coped better, achieved goals faster and ultimately had better health outcomes. Another study by psychology professors Carnegie Mellon University found that when people are under pressure, they can actually improve their ability to problem-solve by using positive self-affirmations. And a brain scan study published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience established that people who practice self affirmation had higher activity levels in areas of the brain associated with reward.
Our Speech Therapists’ Favorite Positive Affirmations
In building communication skills – the ability to understand and be understood – speech therapists must first spur engagement. For young children or those with significantly disparate expressive/receptive language skills compared to peers, we’ll use “communication temptations” such as a fun swing, new toy or favorite book.
But self-motivation proves a powerful driver in its own right. Some of the positive affirmations speech therapists offer our clients include:
- You are a very good listener.
- You are so energetic and fun!
- You are a very creative problem solver.
- You sure enjoy eating healthy snacks.
- You have such a positive attitude.
- What a great friend you are!
- I know that was a hard thing to do, but I love that you didn’t give up.
- I saw how you remembered to _. Really great thinking!
- You are so responsible.
- You really enjoy learning new things – I love it!
- You are getting stronger and stronger every day.
- You are so caring and thoughtful of others.
- I love the way your mind works! There is a really special job out there for you someday.
- You are a very skilled artist, especially with _.
- I’m impressed by the way you took a breath and stayed calm, even when it was tough.
- I can tell you really tried your best today because _.
- You are really becoming a leader!
- You can do hard things.
- Getting it right takes a lot of practice, but you did a fantastic job not giving up.
- You are amazing the way you are.
Whatever positive messages you convey, just make sure they are both believable and reachable. Teach your child to parrot a few of these back to you on occasion, beginning with phrases like:
- I can…
- This time I will…
- I choose to…
Giving them the confidence to succeed – in our book – is one of the best ways to show your love.
Dad and daughter inspire with morning affirmations, Sept. 22, 2016, By Ally Hirschlag, Upworthy, USA Today
More Blog Entries:
When a Child Doesn’t Respond to Their Name: Speech-Language Pathologist Insights, Jan. 8, 2019, FOCUS Fort Myers Speech Therapists Blog
As FOCUS Fort Myers occupational therapists, we help children with disabilities overcome impediments to independence, adapt to the world around them (or adapt the world to them) and acquire the tools necessary to navigate each day. One key component of this is learning appropriate socialization – particularly with peers. Through play-based approaches, our clients learn to recognize personal space, read body language, handle greetings, manage unexpected interactions, participate in conversations, take turns, avoid conflicts and understand and express their emotions.
Problems with socialization for children with disabilities can be compounded when peers’ reactions are overwhelmingly negative. To be fair: It’s natural for any child to be curious, hesitant or possibly even scared when encountering notable differences for the first time. Every parent has at least one story about the time their child said something mortifying in pointing out another person’s differences (usually very loudly, in public, and in a line where there is no quick escape). But the truth is: They’re still learning socialization skills too. It’s a teaching moment.
Talking to your kids about peers with disabilities increases understanding and acceptance, encourages inclusion and can even help reduce bullying (to which children with disabilities are especially vulnerable).
Long-practicing occupational therapists in South Florida know it wasn’t so long ago children with disabilities were far more isolated from society in daily life. The 13 percent of Americans with disabilities were often taught in different classrooms, denied accommodations allowing them access to the same facilities and arbitrarily boxed out of many career choices. The good news is that’s changing, most recently with the U.S. Department of Education’s new policy statement on inclusion in early childhood programs. The DOE policy declares unequivocally that inclusion of children with disabilities from a young age offers maximum benefit and should be every district’s goal.
That means if he or she is not already, your child will soon have daily interaction with at least one peer who has a disability. Helping them understand differences – and framing those differences in a positive way – can make a big difference.