PAP 161: The Benefits of Affirmations for Kids and Parents, with Jaeden Schafer

Picture of hosted by Penny Williams

hosted by Penny Williams

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Scientific research shows us that affirmations are a powerful tool to combat negative limiting beliefs and reshape our neural pathways in the brain for the positive. Kids with ADHD (and/or autism) get exponentially more negative messages throughout their days which has a damaging impact on their confidence, sense of competency, and self-esteem. They need tools and strategies like affirmations to counterbalance the negative input and self-beliefs that commonly impact them. 

In this episode of the Podcast, I’m joined by the co-founder of Self-Pause, Jaeden Schafer, to discuss what effective affirmation practice looks like and why it’s so beneficial to adults and kids alike. Listen in to learn how you can support your child and their self-confidence with affirmations.


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My Guest

Jaeden is a marketer, entrepreneur, and affirmation ambassador for positive psychology. He Co-founded Selfpause in 2019 with a mission to empower personal achievement through cognitive rewiring.



Jaeden Schafer 0:03

So positive affirmations are a powerful way for us to help reshape our minds and rewire the neural pathways in our brain. So in neuroscience are the same that says neurons that fire together wire together and essentially what that means is just like we can create habits in our life, our thoughts can create patterns and habits as well.

Penny Williams 0:27

Welcome to The Parenting ADHD podcast, where I share insights and strategies on raising kids with ADHD straight from the trenches. I'm your host, Penny Williams. I'm a parenting coach, author, ADHD a Holic and mindset mama, honored to guide you on the journey of raising your a typical kid. Let's get started.

Welcome back to The Parenting ADHD Podcast. I'm really excited today to be talking to Jaden Schaffer from self paws, co founder of self pause, and we're going to talk about the benefits of affirmations both for your kids and for yourself. Thanks so much for being here. Jaden. Will you start by introducing yourself for everyone listening?

Jaeden Schafer 1:16

Yeah, so my name is Jaeden Schafer. I'm the CEO and co founder of self pause. So we're a positive affirmation meditation app, we focus on creating affirmations in a bunch of different categories to help people be more positive and improve their mindset. Awesome. So I think the the best place to start is to define what we mean by affirmation. And what's an affirmation? Yeah, so an affirmation is a kind of all starts from in psychology, the study of self affirmation, which is kind of your core beliefs about yourself. They're typically like I am statements spoken in the present tense. So for example, you could say, I am a loving parents, or I am a creative person, I am someone that always does my best, those kind of positive I am statements are still affirmations are can be our self affirmations. And so they're things that we affirm about ourselves. But then there's a lot of kind of science and psychology that goes behind affirmations and how they can help us change our mindset and change our behavior.

Penny Williams 2:25

Yeah, let's talk about that a little bit. Let's talk about the science behind it, how affirmations work and why they are so helpful.

Jaeden Schafer 2:32

Yeah, so it kind of all comes down to essentially what we're doing when we use affirmations, people might have heard about them in the news, there's a lot of people that a lot of coaches, a lot of people use affirmations in different ways. So like, sometimes people will recommend using affirmations, looking in the mirror and saying them to yourself, a lot of people recommend affirmations for children. I've seen a lot of news articles recently about teachers. And I've talked to a bunch of teachers recently as well, that talked about how powerful affirmations are for like kids in the classroom and whatnot. But essentially, the science behind them is, a lot of times in life as children or especially as adults, we have a lot of negative limiting beliefs. And perhaps you could call them like, negative affirmations that people have told us or, maybe we tell ourselves, sometimes it's our mentors, or people that we love, inadvertently could have given us some of these negative self beliefs. You know, they might say things like, Oh, no one in your family has ever accomplished this, or why do you think you can do that? You know, and so in subconsciously, we have a lot of these limiting beliefs.

And when we're trying to accomplish things or work towards a goal or achieve something, these limiting beliefs that we don't have the right mindset can often times hold us back from performing our best or trying our hardest or really believing in ourselves. Yeah. So positive. Affirmations are a powerful way for us to help reshape our minds and rewire the neural pathways in our brain. So in neuroscience are the same that says, neurons that fire together wire together. Yeah, essentially what that means is just like we can create habitual habits in our life, our thoughts can create patterns and habits as well. So if we repetitively think a statement, like let's say, a negative belief about ourselves or negative thought, it becomes a habit and it becomes our kind of our brain default way of thinking. So, if you try something and you fail or talk short of your goal the first time a lot of people habitually think, I'm no good at this. I can't achieve this, especially for children, learning new things. People with learning disabilities, ADHD, autism, it can be really daunting task A lot of times when they're trying new things and trying to learn new things. And they feel like they come up short and they don't achieve. It's very common for them to have this kind of thought of, whoa, I'm no good at this. Yeah. And what that does, if people are creating kind of that thought pattern or that thought pathway in their mind, is it prevents them from trying their best or trying again at that same thing.

So, positive affirmations are a way for us to start saying positive statements to ourselves, you know that we can achieve what we want, and we are capable and able, and that we do try our best. And as we consistently say, those statements to ourselves, we're helping to rewire the thought patterns in our brain, so that when we're put in those situations, let's say we try something and we don't do our best or achieve our result we're looking for, we can have this kind of subconscious affirmation, say, regardless of the outcome, I always try my best I am successful for trying, and it can help push us to not give up essentially,

Penny Williams 5:40

Right. And I talk a lot about the fact that positivity and negativity are kind of self fulfilling prophecies. And it's that same neuroscience that you're referring to the more positive experiences we have, the more the brain wires that way, the more negativity we have, the more our brain wires that way. And it's so important for the kids that we're talking about here, and really anybody, but to have successes to have wins, and to feel competent and confident. And so it's really hard for kids who struggle, especially struggled at school to do that. And so I see how positive affirmations can be so helpful to kind of counterbalance that negative messaging that they're internalizing as self limiting beliefs

Jaeden Schafer 6:28

Completely. Yeah. And I think it's so important for children, it really is being able to help shift your mindset and have like a growth mindset, as a child, and especially a child with, learning disabilities, and other things, it can be a really positive and powerful tool to help them continue to try to not give up to not feel defeated, because, a lot of times, they have to try a lot harder than other people for certain things. And so keeping that motivation and that positive mindset so important.

Penny Williams 7:01

Yeah, yeah, it's really crucial. There's a statistic, something like kids with ADHD get, I want to say 20 more negative messages for every one that a neurotypical kid would get well, throughout their day, right. So it's a lot, it's a lot that parents really have to be mindful of trying to counterbalance, we have to give our kids the opportunity to feel good about themselves, so that we can help them with the hard things, but also help them just believe that things can get better. And they will achieve and you know, all of this stuff to really again, we're just trying to counterbalance a lot of that negative messaging

Jaeden Schafer 7:44

Completely. Yeah. And I think that's one area where you know, what we do with positive affirmation meditation is really, really powerful and really impactful on our app, we have a bunch of different categories for people, relationships, stress, finances, and we have a children's category on there, all of the meditations are free on the children's category, of course, but you know, our hope with that is that people will be able to use those to help their children have, a positive mindset, if they're able to have them listen to that, I've talked to people that they play positive affirmations for their kids as they're going to bed. And also, we really hope that listening to them is a good experience for parents to to listen to them the positive affirmations, and perhaps get ideas or thoughts on different ways they can help support their children as well to directly give their children positive reinforcement and positive affirmations as well.

Penny Williams 8:38

Yeah, and we need it as parents to we need to be using our own affirmations. Because Parenting is hard. And parenting kids who are wired differently, can be much more challenging. So it's something that we need to be doing as the adults too. And plus, that's modeling for our kids

Jaeden Schafer 8:56

Completely. Yeah, it's such a good example, for children, showing them you know, we really do value mental health, we really do value positive mindset. And yeah, I think especially, parents with children with autism or ADHD, there is a very big, like extra level of stress that is put on you, there's so many extra things to do and keep track of, and positive affirmations are an excellent way to number one de stress. But number two, to really think about your core values and focus on who you are as a person, why it's worth it, to keep trying and to keep working and to keep moving forward regardless of challenges or difficulties. And yeah, really give yourself that positive space and that positive reinforcement,

Penny Williams 9:44

I imagined that it can be really good for sort of recentering after a hard day to remind yourself that everything isn't challenging that there is some good glue throughout your day or your life as well.

Jaeden Schafer 9:55

Yeah, I typically recommend people like I find that really powerful. really beneficial that people start, even if it's just five minutes a day, starting your day off in the morning with affirmations, and then ending in the evening with affirmations. The benefit to this is, for starting your day off, for example, oftentimes, when you start your day off, you're you're ready to go listening to these positive affirmations, they can get in your mind, you can start your day off on the right foot feeling positive and competent. And then what happens is, as you kind of move into your day, oftentimes, as things get hectic with children with work with other things, and your day gets stressful, our minds kind of go into the fight or flight mode, there's deadlines, there's stress, there's things for the kids. And if you start your day off with positive affirmations, you kind of have these positive statements subconsciously, in your mind, you started your day off, and as your mind goes into this fight or flight mode, it's easier for you to have something accessible to think of and recenter kind of help yourself throughout the day as well.

Penny Williams 10:55

Yeah, they could be a great regulation tool, then to which I hadn't thought about.

Jaeden Schafer 11:00

Totally, yeah, I've talked a lot of people that really appreciate that benefit. And then as far as like five minutes, or however long before bed, it's a really powerful way to kind of end your day destress focus on what's most important to you, and end your day on on the right foot as well.

Penny Williams 11:17

Ya know, imagine doing that can help asleep. Yeah, if you go to bed, and you're just thinking about how hard your day was, or how tomorrow might be the same, it's hard to sleep. But if you're thinking more positively, and you've taken some time for kind of a mindfulness or meditation practice, that could help you sleep a great deal to

Jaeden Schafer 11:37

Yeah, completely. Meditation has greatly been shown to improve sleep, to help people out in that way. And so we actually have a whole category on our App of sleep affirmations for people if they're going to sleep, and you know, a lot of that focuses on the day and, and processing and kind of what goes on throughout the day. What we love about affirmations, whether that's our professional recorded ones, or other kind of tools we have on our app is, we really hope that they're a powerful way for people to, if they're not super familiar with practicing affirmations or affirmation meditation, to kind of get their foot in the door, get started, listen to some different ideas. And what we're super excited about is for is that on our app, we have the ability for people to write and record their own affirmations in their own voice. So it's like really personal affirmations, personalized to them, and then they can meditate to those and put meditation, music or nature sounds in the background as well.

Penny Williams 12:34

And kids could do that too. Right? Yeah, kids can do that. Yeah, was there a parent could do that for their kids. Some kids are so soothed by the sound of their parents voice. And, wow, that can be really a really powerful tool. I think, especially for kids who struggle with sleeping alone or sleeping in their own room, to hear a parent and something soothing might really be helpful.

Jaeden Schafer 12:57

Yeah, I talked to a lady recently, she had a child with a lot of learning disabilities, when he was a baby, he had colic would just cry all night long. Yeah, really a lot of health issues really, really tough. And then what she did before smartphones and everything else was she just on a tape recorder recorded her own voice, saying positive affirmations and positive, uplifting things to her baby. But she made like, I think, like a 45 minute track, and we just had a loop all night long. And she said that was the only thing that would keep her baby sleeping. And so sometimes for children, it really is, hearing the voice of their parents that to help soothe them and to help them to call.

Penny Williams 13:39

I love that. I love that opportunity. I think it's amazing. I think it could be life changing. Honestly, for some people, we have a lot of families listening, who really struggle with sleep with their kids. And that could be, really unique tool for that. What other kinds of affirmations? Like can you give us some examples of affirmations for kids versus some affirmations for adults?

Jaeden Schafer 14:06

Totally. I got some good examples of affirmations for kids. And I guess I can preface this by saying, for kids, what's really important when you're focusing on like, creating affirmations for kids is more than just praising kids, by saying something like you are smart, or you are amazing, is to really focus on praising kids or creating affirmations around valuing things that are like specific to them and really focused on on praising their effort and their hard work, right. Because, yeah, it's not just saying like, you are perfect, you always do perfect, right? It's about saying, You are amazing, because you always show up more, so things like that. So I guess like some examples is, I work hard and always try my best. I love to learn. I can do hard things. I am brave. I'm confident, like focusing on gratitude. I'm more grateful every single day. Bye I'm always growing, I accept myself, I choose happiness, things like that can be really powerful statements for anyone, but for kids in particular, and really focusing on praising them and recognizing the hard work that they're doing, that they're putting in and praising them for showing up regardless of the result. Because, like you talked about earlier, if they get some sort of negative feedback from trying, and you know, they won't necessarily want to try it anymore.

Penny Williams 15:26

Yeah, exactly. And what you're talking about, again, this growth mindset, it's praising the effort, and the showing up and those sorts of things rather than praising an outcome, like, Oh, you got an A on your test, it's more like, Look, you studied really hard and see what happened, right? It's really focusing on effort, more than outcome, I think

Jaeden Schafer 15:49

Completely. And, I think for adults, that theme is also really important. Focusing on things that take effort as well, and recognizing yourself for that, for me, looking at different affirmations, like, let's say it's a relationship affirmation, because you know, we have a lot of different categories, but if you're looking at like relationship ones, something like, a kind, loving partner I focus on, or I always try to understand the perspective of my significant other, things like that, where it's like, you're focusing on the efforts that you have to make, and these positive affirmations, like, nobody's perfect, right. But as you remind yourself, this is a core belief, this is something that's important to me, right, for example, like, trying to hear the perspective of someone else, is you remind yourself about that, essentially, by practicing affirmations. What's really interesting is the study of self affirmation in psychology shows that, as people practice these affirmations, they remind themselves of them, they put them in their brain, they're rewire their neural pathways, that actually helps change our behavior. So when we're put in a situation, where something is stressful, or there's a disagreement, for example, like was in a relationship, having these affirmations that you practice you think about helps you to actually become that person that is focused more on understanding and actually giving your effort to try to understand someone or to listen or to not argue is so easily, so they really are a powerful tool for helping us shape and change our behaviors as well.

Penny Williams 17:17

Yeah, and I am seeing that you have a category for stress affirmations, which I think could suit a lot of parents. Yeah, adults in general, but a lot of parents. So that's really awesome that you're focusing on that.

Jaeden Schafer 17:30

Yeah. Especially for parents, as you said, I never would have known before having kids, what a grand undertaking and how much stress and difficulty comes along with that, of course, so much reward and happiness. But yeah, it's definitely something that it's important to, to focus on ourselves and making sure we're, we're managing that stress as well. You know,

Penny Williams 17:51

I keep thinking, as we're talking that the more parents do this, the better prepared they are for parenting, like for their kids specifically. And we talk so much about the fact that the only way to do our best for our kids is actually to take care of ourselves. And as parents in this culture, we tend to put ourselves last we feel like, well, that's showing that we're a great parent, because we sacrifice ourselves completely for our kids. But what happens is, we're not as capable of doing our best anymore, right. And so this is just another tool to help parents through self care, and to be the best that they can for their kids. But also, I think it's going to sort of teach some of that growth mindset that is so important when we're speaking to our kids and working with our kids. And I'm just imagining it as almost kind of a training for the parent as well, in their parenting

Jaeden Schafer 18:53

Completely. Yeah, yeah, it's so powerful. And, the people we have writing these affirmations, we, we really do try to focus on the psychology, the science, the neuroscience behind a lot of the studies that are going on. And, for example, like the people that are writing about stress affirmations, they'll typically go and read different articles on ways to help alleviate stress what people are saying and kind of scientific journals in that area around the topics. And they mold a lot of the affirmations based off of recommendations or information around that. So as people listen to those stress affirmations, I love them because they give me ideas all the time on ways that I can help mitigate my stress, as well as helping to de stress just through the fact of you know, that you're meditating and whatnot, but they also offer a lot of great insights and tools for people to use throughout their day.

Penny Williams 19:46

Yeah. And the more you do it, I think the easier it is, I know a lot of people feel really awkward and self conscious at first, when they start using affirmations. And I think as time goes on and you practice it, you'll find yourself, having this loop in your mind your subconscious, like giving you affirmations, when things get hard, right, it'll be just sort of this thing that takes on a life of its own sort of. And really, I found that to be true with some parenting mantras that I use, for example, they just naturally start popping up after a while, and I don't have to consciously think about it anymore. So they've helped me to remain calm, because I kept practicing them and reminding myself of them. And so it becomes much more natural over time,

Jaeden Schafer 20:30

Completely, I think something you said there was so important, and that is to practice, listening to affirmations or meditating. It's not like a one time experience or, think it's so critical that we really do practice, because our mindset is definitely something that can be shaped and molded. And if we're not practicing consistently, to help make it more positive, there's a lot of things around us that can, negatively impact us or give us that fight or flight feeling. And so it's so important that we're constantly putting in the time and the effort to do that self care, and that focus on improving our own mindsets that kind of counteract a lot of what is around us in the world.

Penny Williams 21:10

Can there's so much science around, specifically ADHD, and the impact that practicing mindfulness has positively on ADHD symptoms. And so this is just another way to practice mindfulness. Really, if you spend a few minutes with your positive affirmations or with one from your app, then you're practicing mindfulness and you're helping. And so by teaching kids that who have ADHD, it can also be really powerful to help them in many other ways besides just sort of their mental or emotional health. Because again, we're talking about the impact of neuroscience here and the neural pathways. And so it's really remarkable, how much impact even like five minutes a day of mindfulness or meditation can have on someone. So I think it's in some ways an even greater to wall for ADHD anxiety, for sure, is a big one, that mindfulness is really helpful for as well and autism to fits into that category. I'm sure,

Jaeden Schafer 22:13

Totally Yeah, such an amazing tool. And it really does help teach people how to shift their mindset and give them so many tools for achieving more and really shifting their behavior to be who they truly believe they are.

Penny Williams 22:26

I love it. I love it. Anything else you want to talk about? Before we close anything that we might have missed? Definitely everyone can go to self right and get the app?

Jaeden Schafer 22:38

Yeah, yeah, anyone can go to self To download the app, it's on Apple and Android. So just if you search for self pods, you can find the app, it's free to download, we have lots of free categories, we have some premium affirmation meditations, the feature to write and record your own affirmations or write and record affirmations for your children is completely free. And then one last thing I would mention, a feature I really love on the app, it's also free that anyone can use is the option to create your own daily affirmation notification reminders. So I have a bunch that I have set to kind of come up to me throughout the day at specific times positive statements. And so it's kind of cool, because you know, if you're doing your five minutes in the morning and five minutes at night, it's really cool to also have a couple, if so many notifications on our phones of work and other things, it's really cool to be able to get these positive affirmation reminders, I have one that comes up to me every day that says, I have a happy and harmonious family. And it helps me to think about, in the moment, what can I do now to help my family be more happy and more harmonious. And I think that's a really cool tool. And I definitely recommend everyone check it out and try that is it can be a really positive tool that people can use throughout their day.

Penny Williams 23:49

Yeah, I'm totally gonna set that up. Because for me, notifications are stressful, because it's always something I need to do, right, I need to take care of that. I need to clear those notifications. So to have something popping up, that's positive and feels good is amazing. Like it's a great sort of, again, a counterbalance to everything else that's going on and great reminders, super helpful information. I honestly have never thought about affirmations as mindfulness and meditation practice. And you've completely changed my viewpoint on it. And I think it's such a powerful tool. And I know that so many parents listening are going to get great benefits from the information that you've shared, and hopefully, from the app as well. For everyone listening, I will link up self pause the website in the show notes. I'm going to give you a link to some information about growth mindset, too, because we've mentioned that a few times and I think it's really important in parenting, the parenting that we're doing to understand growth mindset and trying to use that as well. So you can get those show notes at for Episode 161, and I thank you again Aiden so much for giving us some of your time and wisdom and being an affirmation ambassador and kind of spreading some positivity and joy.

Jaeden Schafer 25:08

Well, it's been amazing to be on the show and I love what you're doing over here to making such a positive impact. So it's great to be able to talk to someone else that's passionate about that.

Penny Williams 25:17

Yeah, it's always fun. With that. We will end this episode. I'll see everyone next time. Thanks for joining me on the parenting ADHD podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe and share. And don't forget to check out my online courses, parent coaching and Mama retreats at

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I'm Penny Williams.

I help stuck and struggling parents (educators, too) make the pivots necessary to unlock success and joy for neurodivergent kids and teens, themselves, and their families. I'm honored to be part of your journey!

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Join me as I help parents, caregivers, and educators like you harness the realization that we are all beautifully complex and marvelously imperfect. Each week I deliver insights and actionable strategies on parenting neurodivergent kids — those with ADHD, autism, anxiety, learning disabilities…

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