Practical PSED activities with Talking Hearts - Provide children with daily positive affirmations to boost self-esteem, psychological wellbeing and overall self-appreciation
Talking Hearts with positive self-affirmationsTalking Hearts are a perfect learning resource for Personal, Social and Emotional Development, (PSED). They are geared towards providing children with daily positive affirmations intended to boost their self-esteem, psychological wellbeing and overall self-appreciation. Shaped in the form of a red heart, each time the device is pressed, it will randomly play one of its thirty positive affirmations to your child. The affirmations possess a roster of different purposes, ranging from simple affirmations such as “I am creative” and “I try my best” to others with more emotional complexity, including “I can make a difference” or “I choose to include others”.
Daily implementation of positive affirmationsResearch surrounding the impact of affirmations has shown that their daily implementation can improve self-confidence and self-esteem, promote positive self-talk habits, and enhance levels of emotional intelligence, (1). Furthermore, these benefits have been positively associated with child demographics who are highly responsive to positively weighted stimuli during their developmental period, (2).
To better contextualise, developmental psychologists have demonstrated that children between the ages of 5 to 12 undergo an intense phase of neuroplasticity where their brain acts as a sponge that absorbs new information and experiences with exceptional ease, (3). Due to this, integrating methods of imparting positive information to children during this period is crucial. More importantly, it is during this time of development where a child will form their thinking habits that unfold throughout the rest of their lives.
Keep in mind that growing up and navigating countless new environments can be extremely daunting, and the critical mediator in how a child will overcome these challenges is how they respond to them. This is one of the many challenges that Talking Hearts seeks to address, and through this article, we will outline the various methods and contexts in which Talking Hearts can be applied. Whether it be in the classroom or family home, we have come up with many activities that you can use to bring positivity to your child’s life.
Emotional Intelligence ActivitiesAs a child grows up, they slowly discover their inner world and actively try to understand their emotions. However, this can be highly challenging for them, and the difficulty is apparent during the multitude of emotional outbursts they display throughout this period of development (much to the chagrin of their parents!).
To address this, we have made sure to integrate affirmations with additional emotional complexity for a parent or teacher to use and explore with a child. If we get technical for a minute, let’s look at one of our affirmations: “I can be a leader”. Beyond simple emotional concepts such as helping, happiness or belief, when we consider the word leadership, it acts as a complex noun that includes concepts such as guidance, understanding, duty and initiative. Although these terms may be difficult to relay to a child, they provide the opportunity as a teacher or parent to support them with discovering the nuanced emotions associated with them, ultimately helping the child cultivate their emotional intelligence.
As an activity, this can be implemented in the classroom, in a group or at home in a 1-1 context. In the classroom, each child can take turns pressing Talking Hearts and unpack, with the help of the teacher and classmates, the underlying meaning behind each projected affirmation. This also acts as a robust speech and language activity that promotes the integration of new words and concepts that are key to understanding complex emotions. At home, a more intimate approach could be used whereby a parent goes through each affirmation with their child using metaphors and prompts to create a space for understanding and communication.
Changing Negative Self-Talk ActivitiesImagine a situation where your child or student has made a mistake and lost faith in their abilities, leading to negative self-talk. It is crucial to address this, as negative self-talk can have significant behavioural consequences for how a child acts, depending on the severity of the situation. Consider the difference between these statements:
1. “I’m a failure and will never amount to anything.”
2. “I can do hard things, and I can learn from my mistakes”
(Examples of affirmations included in the Talking Hearts)
Studies into affirmations have shown that how a situation is framed within a child’s mind can strongly influence how they will respond to it, (4). Hence, your child’s self-talk must be oriented towards positive and productive statements instead of negative and self-deprecating ones.
Integrating this into an activity, teachers and parents can use this as a supportive tool in periods of adversity. Psychological research shows that instances of adversity and challenge can act as significant developmental learning opportunities that have the potential to help a child grow and understand important lessons, (5).
In a classroom, Talking Hearts can be used before important assessments to help children reframe their perspectives for a given task or challenge. It can also be used in addressing difficult grades or helping the child understand that they can use failure to improve and showcase their improvements for future opportunities. At home, it can be used to correct negative statements or pessimistic behaviours, giving the child additional agency and independence to confront their challenges.
Confidence and Self-Esteem BoostA Talking Heart is a device that can be held on to throughout the day. Being small in size and very portable, a child can keep a Talking Heart with them and use it whenever they deem necessary as a reminder of how great they are. Science shows consistent daily affirmations foster confidence and increase self-esteem, (6). As the child consistently hears positive affirmations about their abilities, their positive traits and talents, they will progressively integrate them into their identity, leading to profound confidence and self-esteem benefits.
For a more significant impact, we recommend that your child use Talking Hearts before going to sleep, as studies show that positive affirmations before bed helps the brain calm down and replace negative feelings with positive thinking. When this becomes routine practice, the repeated positive affirmations start to define how the child perceives and frames their reality, subsequently influencing their behaviour in a positive and constructive way.
Talking Hearts can also be used in the classroom to boost confidence and self-esteem by using self-identifying stories for each affirmation. By pressing the heart, the child can recount a story of how they relate to the projected affirmation. For example, if the affirmation “I never give up” is played, the child can be prompted to tell a story of a time when he almost quit a challenging activity but persevered. If they have trouble doing this, they can be reminded that simple acts of perseverance count, such as getting out of bed in the morning and going to class when they didn’t want to or finishing frustrating homework they wanted to be done with.
Record and play your own affirmationsA voice recordable version of the Talking Hearts is also available. This allows you to record and playback your own voice messages using the built-in microphone. You can record your own affirmations, in any language, tailored to meet the specific needs of your child. Click this link: Voice Recordable Talking Hearts
Summary of Practical PSED Applications
The Bottom LineThere are many applications for Talking Hearts - You just have to be creative! Beyond these proposed activities, there are countless ways you can integrate positive affirmations into your child’s daily life and bring them an additional layer of positivity and learning into their developmental journey. Remember that during this period, they are most receptive to learning and applying new information, so what are you waiting for!
For more information and to see the full list of the affirmations stored on the Talking Hearts for Children, please visit the Talking Hearts Web Page. We have also developed additional versions of the Talking Hearts that include positive affirmations aimed at different groups of people. Whether it be to children, teenagers or even elderly individuals, we hope to impart everybody with the profound benefits that affirmations can produce in people. Click this link to view the range.
Article written by Matthias Laroche, (B.Sc. – Psychology and M.Sc. – Neuropsychiatry).
1.) Steele, C. M. (1988). The psychology of self-affirmation: Sustaining the integrity of the self. In Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 21, pp. 261-302). Academic Press.
2.) Downing, C. J. (1986). Affirmations: Steps to counter negative, self-fulfilling prophecies. Elementary School Guidance & Counseling, 20(3), 174-179.
3.) Costandi, M. (2016). Neuroplasticity. MIt Press.
4.) Cherry, K. M., McArthur, B. A., & Lumley, M. N. (2020). A multi-informant study of strengths, positive self-schemas and subjective well-being from childhood to adolescence. Journal of Happiness Studies, 21(6), 2169-2191.
5.) Calhoun, L. G., & Tedeschi, R. G. (Eds.). (2014). Handbook of posttraumatic growth: Research and practice. Routledge.
6.) Downing, C. J. (1986). Affirmations: Steps to counter negative, self-fulfilling prophecies. Elementary School Guidance & Counseling, 20(3), 174-179.