The Impact and Power of Uplifting and Affirmative Words

Cover photo by Katrina Wright | Unsplash
“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.”
Proverbs 25:11
The words that we speak carry power; they affect those around us; they can either build up or tear down; bring hope or despair; foster either love or hate.

Positive words uplift and foster feelings of hope, while negative, judgmental words make a person feel shame, fear, and doubt. Uplifting and affirmative words have power and impact on our children's and grandchildren’s lives.

As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.

heart pendant with positive words beside wall
Photo by Nick Fewings
What a child hears you say about them, they grow up believing about themselves. You, as a parent or grandparent, are the authority figure in their lives. Because you’re the adult, they believe everything you say.

Life and death are in the power of the tongue. The words we say can bring encouragement or discouragement.

Focusing on speaking words that build up and benefit our children, we’re laying the foundation for success. Our positive, affirmative words build their confidence and sense of worth. They help develop their character because the way they see themselves is the way they’ll show up to the world.

We want our words to foster character traits like compassion, courage, resilience, and integrity.

We hope they’ll grow up being able to express themselves in meaningful ways. We want to see them gaining independence and being resourceful.

In her poem, “Children Learn What They Live,” Dorothy Law Nolte wrote,
If a child lives with encouragement, he learns to be confident.
If a child lives with praise, he learns to appreciate.
Our children are precious to the Lord and worthy of love.

The words we speak over them and to them build a sense of worth and belonging in their hearts. A child already has enough negative thoughts about himself. And since our words affect the way, a child sees himself, let’s use our words to build up, rather than tear down.

Positive, affirming words affect the brain.

“A soothing tongue is a tree of life, but perversion in it crushes the spirit.”
Proverbs 15:4
The things we tell our kids become the soundtrack of their lives. You know how powerful that is.

How many times have you gotten a song stuck in your head, just to have it play over and over again? The words we speak to our children and grandchildren act in the same way.

Have you ever thought of the power of your words and how much they affect your child’s development?

Dr. Caroline Leaf, a communication pathologist and cognitive neuroscientist, wrote about the effects of our thoughts on our brains in her book, Switch on Your Brain. In it, she discusses the importance of what we think about and how our thoughts actually change our brains.

Since words are the seedbeds for thoughts and thoughts for actions, we can see how important it is to give positive, affirming words to our children and grandchildren.

Words affect how our children’s brains develop. Newberg and Waldman, who co-authored Words Can Change Your Brain, say positive words “can alter the expression of genes, strengthening areas in our frontal lobes and promoting the brain’s cognitive function.”

Positive, affirming words help develop a healthy brain in children, whereas negative words create stress and interrupt the brain’s performance.

Proverbs 16:35 says, “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” Focusing on and speaking positive words can be a source of healing for a child who’s struggling.

Our words can cause our kids to thrive if we use them graciously and sincerely.

The difference between compliments and affirmative words

The words, “I BELIEVE IN YOU. BELIEVE IN YOURSELF! BE POSITIVE.” inscribed on brick.
Photo by Alex Bracken
I can live two months off a good compliment.
~ Mark Twain
While compliments are good, and we all love to receive them, there’s a difference between compliments and affirmative words.

A compliment tends to be about external things such as one’s looks, clothes, or singing voice. Uplighting and affirming words go deeper and focus on a person’s value.

To affirm someone requires pausing and giving some thought about what you appreciate about them: their perseverance, the conscientiousness of their work, their sense of justice, or their efforts to get along with others.

The more specific and sincere you are, the more effective your words will be. Affirmative words spoken sincerely have the potential of staying with the child and molding their perception of themselves for a lifetime.

Positive, affirming words are the gifts that keep on giving, and you may be wondering how to get started.

What are some positive, affirming words I can speak over my child or grandchild?

Sometimes when learning a new skill, we need a little help. Here’s a list of positive, affirming things you can say to the children in your life.

  • I love the way you play with your little sister. You’re a good big brother.
  • Thank you for helping me bake cookies. You’re a good helper.
  • I saw the way you shared your toys with the neighbors. You’re very kind.
  • Thank you for picking up your toys because you knew I was tired from work today. That was really thoughtful of you.
  • I’m so happy you can tell me how you feel. You’re learning to be a good communicator.

And that’s just a start! To learn more affirming statements, take a look here.

Our desire is to empower and encourage you in your role as steward over the children in your life. For a list of resources and our community initiatives, please check us out at