Positive Mantras & Parenting: you is kind, you is smart, you is important

{originally published January 14, 2015}


Shifting from negative mantras to positive mantras was probably my greatest success of 2014.


I pushed myself through every day of my life, all the way to 2014, using hateful, terrorizing, emotionally crushing negative mantras. I was not always aware I was doing it. It was habitual to say the least.


The only reason I decided to stop doing that was because of the look on my therapist’s face when I told her that’s how I got myself through high school, college and law school (and the bar exam, my wedding planning and pregnancy). The look on her face suggested that was not a good idea.


So, I agreed to try out positive mantras. It was tough at first because I did not realize how huge the shift was going to be. I had to care about myself for real. I had to be sorry when I slipped up, which was tough because, at first, it felt very natural and almost soothing to just allow myself to tear into myself. But when I was finished, it wasn’t soothing at all (obviously) and I regretted what I considered to be “backsliding” into old bad habits.


Over the course of the year, I found myself doing many things to solidify my shift into positive mantras. Research, reading, journaling, mixed media art (#hellosoulhellomantras), meditating, EMDR, self hypnosis, yoga, etc.


Want to know what the single most helpful activity has been?




By far, the easiest and most effective method for my shift was to use positive mantras on my child.


When I was pregnant, I read the book The Help and was very moved by the mantra that the nanny uses on the baby (“You is kind, you is smart, you is important”).


you is kind, you is smart, you is important

“You is kind, you is smart, you is important”


My big pregnant self was sobbing thinking about how helpful that would have been, if my parents had used mantras like that on me when I was a child.


Ever since my son was born, I have told him this every day:


You are kind. You are smart. You are important. You are my son. I am your mom. I take care of you. You are special. You are an angel. You are made out of stars. I am so proud of you. You make me so happy. I love to be your mom. We are a family. I love you.


I tell him this, without fail, at nap time and at bed time. I also tell him that when he is cuddly, or sad, or when I just don’t know what else to say. This is my filler.


At the end of this month, my son will be 3 years old. For the past 6 months, he has been whispering the mantra along with me. I could not be more proud. I know he believes every word of it (why wouldn’t he? It’s all true).


What’s even more amazing—I am beginning to believe every word of it about myself. I am kind. I am smart. I am important. I am a mom. I will take care of myself. I love myself. I am special. I am an angel. I am made out of stars. I am so happy. I love to be Jackson’s mom. I have a family.


It’s hard to totally change certain core habits. I know. I did it. Through, research, reading, journaling, various forms of therapy, art work, blogging, meditating, yoga and parenting.


I don’t care how old your children are, start the positive mantras with them today. Do it for them and for you. Do it every day.





Haiku by Rachel VanKoughnet:


He’s not mine to own.

I was made to protect him

before I was born.


you is kind, you is smart, you is important

Belly Breathe

Hey, wanna know what my greatest parental achievement is to date?




Watch this Sesame Street video.


The belly breathe. I promise you I am no parental expert, but this is my story:


As I was staring at the computer screen, watching Belly Breathe on YouTube for the millionth time, holding my son, dreaming about how I used to be a lawyer back when people still talked to me and I still left the house regularly, it hit me that I was not breathing.


Why aren’t you breathing?


I’m thinking.


Can’t you do both?


Then I started to really pay attention to the song and it became clear why my 10 month old son has been insisting we watch this song every day for the last 2 months: it’s because we breathe together and we talk about breathing. Someone WAS talking to me, my son, as best he could. I thought he was trying to drive me crazy, pointing and grunting, for me to play the song, screaming and crying, for me to play it again. He was arguing with me: mommy, we need this. You need this.


So we belly breathe and we talk about it and we apply it to our daily lives.


The second he started talking, one of his first words after the basics was: breathe, with my baby actually putting his tiny hands on his tummy and watching his belly go in and out. Mommy proud.


“Breathe Mommy,” he says to me sometimes, when I get to thinking too hard about complicated things. Mommy grateful.


Flash forward to May 2014. Jackson is 2, I am holding him BC he is sick, his tummy hurts and he needs mama cuddles. So we are belly breathing, as we do in this house, and my sweet boy threw up real adult size + smelling vomit through my hair, deep into my sports bra, onto this brand new Kelly Rae Roberts couch I got for my wedding anniversary gift and onto the carpet. We sink to the floor together, all the while I tell him calmly:


That’s right, great job, you are throwing up and you are ok, yes baby, breathe, that’s right, perfect, breathe baby!


I get excited at this point, or ‘cited (!), as we call it around here, BC even though he is just 2 years old, he still remembered to breathe, to focus on breathing when he could, even though he was scared and felt out of control. He let it go. He breathed.


We high fived.


His Dada rushes around removing blankets and clothing that have been puked on, as we sit together and talk about how he just did an incredible job throwing up.


Do you feel better?




Ok. Mommy will always take care of you baby.


Thank you Mommy.




Yeah baby?


{make throwing up noise} sick. Kitty sick. I sick.


Oh you got sick and now you are just pretending to get sick?


Yes, the belly breathe; it’s a practice in this household.





belly breathe