Has someone given you some affirmation today? Maybe a loved one reminded you that you are not taken for granted. Maybe a co-worker or supervisor credited your work. Affirmation feels good! And it should. Would you be opposed to receiving more affirmation? Probably not, even if you are shy about receiving it. That’s because you cannot receive too much encouragement or affirmation.
Verbal affirmation is vital to our well-being. That’s one reason why we hold certain passages in Scripture as near and dear to our heart, because they speak directly to us in a way that is personal, meaningful, and affirming.
Maybe it is the way Psalm 139:13-14 reminds you that you are custom-made, unique, and intricately created. Or maybe the way 1 Peter 1:18-19 describes how you were ransomed from sin and death by the precious blood of Jesus. Perhaps, it is simply how God delights in you, see Psalm 149:4. This could go on for a while, and I hope you do see the way the living word of Scripture speaks to you! But the point is just that, God wants you to experience his affirmation every day.
So, now let’s flip the scenario. When was the last time you gave someone else affirmation today? Parents, did you affirm something in your kids? Affirmation is strong in and of itself, but the more pointed, the more powerful. What do we mean? There is an obvious difference between when your boss says: “Great job!” Versus when your boss says: “Great job on that presentation, I can tell you thoughtfully prepared, and it certainly shows!” Now, what about our kids?
I want to challenge you to thoughtfully and generously affirm your kids like their spiritual development depends on it.
After all, this is one of the areas of influence we can excel at with just a little bit of intentionality and thoughtfulness.
Affirmation is not just in what we say, though. There are other, non-verbal, ways to express our affirmation of kids. Here are a few.
Visual attention, otherwise known as “eye contact” is special. Especially in today’s world where many kids are used to peers talking to them while staring at a glowing rectangle (aka smartphones).
Apparently, eye contact is a novelty these days. Show them–with your eyes–that they have your attention and your affection. Yes, the eyes truly do show a kind of affection.
Physical affection is also an underrated way to show love. An appropriate touch releases positive chemicals in the brains of both the human agent and the human object of the touch.
Specifically, oxytocin–a chemical that produces positive emotions–is released and bonds the two people together during an appropriate and endearing touch, such as a hug, according to numerous studies. Some of you are naturally good at this. Keep it up! Some of you might not be “touchy-feely” kind of people. Okay! That’s fine. But everyone needs appropriate physical contact. So, you might have to learn this. Expressing love with our words is important, but so is our touch.
The three forms of affirmation we briefly discussed were verbal affirmation, visual attention, and physical affection. We encourage you to proactively practice each of these in your relationships, especially with the kids in your life. (P.S., all three of these are important despite how old your kids are.)
Want to apply these things? Consider these practical questions.
- Out of the three forms of affirmation discussed above, which one comes most naturally do you? Which one do you want to develop more?
- Think about how God is revealed in Scripture. Can you think of any examples of the various ways He gives affirmation? What examples come to mind? How can you receive this as something personal for you?
- Take a moment to ask the Holy Spirit to bring someone to mind. How can you give that person a form of affirmation? What form of affirmation might they need today?