Supporting children through trying times can be an incredibly difficult process, as no one child responds to social work tools in exactly the same way but the end goal of facilitating change in a situation is always the same. We always want to make sure children are living safe and happy childhoods, free of trauma or emotional strain. With this in mind, it’s important to have a variety of resources at a social workers disposal, so that we can ensure we have the required tools to help all the vulnerable children we encounter in the most effective way. When we came the Positive Thought Cards pack from Nurture Cards we were immediately impressed by this latest resource within our social work community. Recently we sat down with Erica Fellows from Nurture Cards to find out more about how this can help children and the practitioners who safeguard them.
“Why do you feel that affirmation cards are a useful tool for working with children?”
In my work with vulnerable families as a family support worker and therapeutic play skills practitioner, I was looking for a resource or tool which I could use in sessions to help with self-esteem and confidence. I have used other cards of this nature and I noticed that by the second or third week of using them the children would become bored of the resources and just be going through the motions making it a pointless exercise.
I found Nurture Cards on the internet and I was immediately drawn to the beautiful drawings. They are deliberately ‘imperfectly perfect’.
I’ve since found that children really love using them. They are able to choose the card which suits them on that day and sometimes parents choose cards for their children or children choose cards for parents which can help with attachment and connection.
That is why I decided to start selling them in the UK.
Life can become busy with school, activities, homework and parents working life. Children may also be dealing with issues such as bullying, problems with peers (such as acceptance), parent separation or conflict, trauma, abuse or neglect. Nurture Cards add an opportunity to create positive thinking, kind thoughts and teach children positive self-talk.
It is so easy to criticise ourselves, so learning to have positive thoughts about ourselves and others is a very important tool for a happy life. Once we have created a negative self image, it can be hard to change that. This is why affirmation cards for children are so valuable and effective.
Nurture Cards are designed with warm colourful drawings that children can relate to, and empowering affirmations to promote self-love, respect, kindness to themselves and others, calming anger, enthusiasm for learning, good health, courage, smiling and much more.
“The Positive Thought Cards are designed to promote self-belief and self-worth – how does this process work?”
Our understanding about the human brain is developing at a fast speed. When talking about Plasticity in reference to our brains we are looking at the brains ability to rewire or reconfigure itself. The neurons in our brain talk to each other with an electrical signal. These links become electrochemical pathways, many of which are specific to certain emotions. One of these is oxytocin which relates to feelings of attachment and trust. This chemical and others such as Serotonin effect how we feel because they interact with both the emotional brain (limbic system) and the fight or flight part of our brain (nervous system).
When you think a certain thought, these chemicals are released and create either positive or negative feelings depending on what the thought is. When positive thoughts are repeated, we activate neural pathways. When we do this again and again these pathways become thicker and stronger. We are able to re wire our brains. Research shows that using affirmations can start to re wire the brain and turn negative belief systems about ourselves into positive ones. Evidence suggests that a child’s emotional well-being must be looked after before they can begin to learn or even behave appropriately. How can a child learn when their system is in fight or flight?
“What was your drive when choosing the affirmation cards?”
Ultimately, I want to help the children I work with and build a connection, make them feel safe and enable them to trust me. Often a child is easily able to name emotions and triggers but this doesn’t help them to heal. They need more. They need human connection – they need to know they are important, and they need to believe it for themselves. This is why it’s important for the child to choose the card for that day. When I work with children, I don’t want it to be an administration exercise. Using Affirmation cards has enabled me to work with children in a more connected way. I believe in the resource and so do the children. This is why I feel passionate about sharing them.
“Why is it so important to promote positive thinking at such a young age?”
The belief system that we create is what effects our self-confidence, self-esteem, self-worth, our positive attitude for ourselves and the world around us.
We affirm to ourselves, different beliefs every day – positive and negative. So do those around us, though what we affirm to ourselves is more powerful.
Verbal affirmations may enter the subconscious, but they are far more powerful in the active conscious mind, and this occurs when one affirms to themselves. Nurture cards are a result of a true passion to help children enjoy their childhood, be confident in the unique individuals that they are and shine for who they are. Self-confidence in turn can affect every aspect of our lives.
“How can families and practitioners help support the process that children go through with these affirmation cards?”
It is great if the cards can be used daily or weekly and continue to use long term as this will help to strengthen the affirmation. For parents (if using daily) find a quiet moment preferably at the start of the day as this will create a positive start to the day which the child can carry with them. It can then be repeated in the evening and the feelings around the card can be discussed if the child wants to. It’s a good idea to get the child to look at themselves in the mirror and repeat the card 3 times. They may be uncomfortable at first but with encouragement they will get used to it. Don’t push the child but you can also show them how to do it by doing it yourself!
The cards can also be used in sessions with children by practitioners. They are a lovely way to start or end a session. The child can choose the card that stands out to them. If they are too young to read, you can read for them. The child could copy/draw the card while you chat. The parent/carer could choose one for the child or vice versa or siblings can choose for each other. Sometimes it can be hard for families to think positively about each other and this can open the door to that.