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5 minutes






To help students to think realistically in the face of stress or challenges and envision a positive outcome

  • Provide a few examples of positive affirmations (can be brainstormed with students).
  • Students write or record (using their devices) their own affirmation for the week.
  • Wrap up by having students sit with their affirmation paper & take a few deep breaths to reflect on the ideas.
  • Ask students to put their positive affirmation in a place where they can review it during the week.
  • An alternative is to have a few students read theirs aloud.

NOTE: Co-creating classroom norms of inclusion, respect for diversity, compassion, and collaboration will help create discussions with a positive and safe emotional climate. To ensure respectful dialogue, norms must be co-created before the practice, and students can be reminded of them throughout.

Complementary practice: Realistic thinking and feeling (Identification and management of emotions)

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

This practice can also reinforce the “Realistic thinking and feeling” practice.

There is extensive evidence that demonstrates the relationship between thoughts, feelings, and actions. Using positive thoughts can influence our emotions and behaviours in helpful ways and can help with reframing negative events by providing a more optimistic outlook (Sherman, et al., 2013; Brady, et al., 2016). Thoughts and emotions are bi-directionally influential, which means that emotions influence one’s thoughts about a situation, and their thoughts influence their emotional reaction to a situation (Clore & Palmer, 2009; Oatley & Johnson-Laird, 2014). Understanding this phenomenon is the first step in developing the skills to manage this cycle, by changing the way one thinks about situations (Webb et al., 2012).

Brady, S. T., Reeves, S. L., García, 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.

Clore, G. L., & Palmer, J. (2009). Affective guidance of intelligent agents: How emotion controls cognition. Cognitive Systems Research, 10(1), 21-30. doi:10.1016/j.cogsys.2008.03.002

Oatley, K., & Johnson-Laird, P. N. (2014). Cognitive approaches to emotions. Trends in Cognitive Sciences. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2013.12.004

Sherman, D. K., Hartson, K. A., Binning, K. R., Purdie-Vaughns, V., García, 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.

Webb, T. L., Miles, E., & Sheeran, P. (2012). Dealing with feeling: A meta-analysis of the effectiveness of strategies derived from the process model of emotion regulation. Psychological Bulletin, 138(4), 775-808. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0027600