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5-10 minutes


Primary / Junior / Intermediate




To help students think positively in the face of stress or challenges by using affirmations to promote confidence, a growth mindset, self-regulation and resiliency

  • Provide students with an explanation of affirmations.
  • Ask students to write or think of a four-word affirmation. Consider brainstorming examples together (“I can do this”, “I can do division”, “I’ll try my best”, “I am loved today”, “I believe in me”, “Today will be awesome”, “I know my alphabet”, “I can decode words”).
  • Say “Each word you have chosen will match a finger in your hand. As you say your affirmation in your head, match each finger with your thumb; one finger per word.”
  • Invite students to use their four finger affirmation privately to feel more confident in stressful situations.

See our social-emotional learning poster series for a four finger affirmations classroom poster.

  • With older students, explain how thoughts are linked to emotions and behaviour. You can acknowledge that it is sometimes difficult to battle negative self-talk and that it takes practice to think more positively.

There is extensive evidence to show the relationship between thoughts, feelings, and actions. Practising using positive thoughts can influence our emotions and behaviours in helpful ways and can help with reframing negative events and providing a more optimistic outlook (Sherman, et al., 2013; Brandy, et al., 2016).

Sherman, D. K., Hartson, K. A., Binning, K. R., Purdie-Vaughns, V., Garcia, J., Taborsky-Barba, S., . . . Cohen, G. L. (2013). Deflecting the trajectory and changing the narrative: How self-affirmation affects academic performance and motivation under identity threat. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 104(4), 591-618.

Brady, S. T., Reeves, S. L., Garcia, J., Purdie-Vaughns, V., Cook, J. E., Taborsky-Barba, S., … & Cohen, G. L. (2016). The psychology of the affirmed learner: Spontaneous self-affirmation in the face of stress. Journal of Educational Psychology, 108(3), 353.