Creating intentional environments for positive affirmation

two girls at holiday camp in Melbourne wearing helmets and giving high fives after completing adventure activities.
Let’s talk about the effect of positive and affirming voices in a Childs life.
Social Mirror Theory states that we are not capable of self reflection without considering what is being reflected back to us by those around us. We see ourselves not just through what others say about us, but through our interpretation of responses, reactions and even facial expressions.
In essence, our kids are constantly looking to their friends, family and those they interact with for indicators of who they are. We are talking about a question which runs deep, to the foundations of a child’s self perception – “is who I am acceptable?” In other forms it sounds like;

Am I beautiful enough?

Am I skilled enough?

Am I good enough?

Do I have what it takes?

This emphasises the need to position our kids in intentional environments that are going to be purposeful in reflecting back to them the strengths and capacities evident in them! Our kids need places that are intentionally promoting great things in them! Having even one person who truly sees and believes in our kids is a powerful influence in their lives!
There is so much in the lives of kids tearing them down. To have a place in their lives that builds them up, encourages them and instils confidence and character is so important.
Let’s talk about how this plays out at camp and then consider how parents can continue promoting great things in their kids at home.


As we walk our campers through social experiences, adventure activities and personal reflections we know the depth of impact we’re having through our team of trained facilitators to be highlighting the great things they see and hear!
We see this theory playing out constantly here at camp. The power of people who reflect back insights around the strengths, achievements and capabilities evident in our campers is immeasurable. For some, it’s the beginning of a brand new narrative that says:

you can,

you are,

you will!

Even more, we believe in the power of assisting each other, through the ability of campers to be an encouraging voice to their peers. Time and time again, we see such growth come from simple but intentional exercises such as open encouragement sessions where campers reflect on the great things they’ve seen in each other.
A mother of one of our school holiday campers reached out to us recently. She shared that the year preceding had been a difficult one for her son. She wrote the following to us:
“My son had been having a really tough year mentally with frequent panic attacks and not coping at all due to one bad incident at school half way through the year last year. Your holiday camp program was his turning point. He has not had a panic attack since attending a week of holiday camps with Golden Valleys and is having the best year. I tell everyone that its because of those few days on that camp. I’m very grateful.”
The focus of our team is creating a school holiday camp environment of inspiration, encouragement and support that allows our campers the opportunity to step into more of themselves with confidence and character. And it works!


There are ways we can be intentional at home as well! Here are a few simple ways that you can focus on reflecting back to your kids and their friends the great things you see!

1. Make an Intentional decision that your home is going to value encouragement.

It might sound simple, but this is a great place to start! You miss 100% of the shots you never take, and this shot is going to be life changing for your whole family! It’s not hard to see the things that are going wrong, or even the things our kids are doing wrong. Sometimes these things are LITERALLY screaming at you! But underneath all that, there are some incredible and wonderful things that are worth our focus and attention.
Valuing encouragement causes us to look for what is good, and when we look for it we always find it! As we find it we focus on it, and as we focus on it, it grows! The good stuff literally increases around us as we determine to focus on a value of encouraging the good things. It’s never too bad or too late to start and the sooner you start, the sooner the good stuff grows!  What’s one thing you are encouraged by in who your kids are? Now tell them!

2. Take 15 min to make a list of 20 things you see as strengths in each of your kids.

  1. Keep it simple, just write down some of the good stuff! 
  2. Then put that list in your bedside table and pull it out each morning to focus on 1 or 2 of these each day. 
  3. Find a moment to intentionally share something great from your list with your child each day. 
You might not feel like writing a list. You may not feel like you have it in you. We all know that on some days we feel like we’re running on empty and spread to thin. But trust me, once you get going this is a tank filler and will remind you of the best of your young ones. Here’s a little starter list for those who feel like they can’t get moving.
  • The way you say good morning when you start your day
  • The way you are caring and interested in your friends
  • The passion you can see for something they love like playing lego and making new creations, or riding their bike
  • The skill they have in something creative, practical, athletic, or an academic area
  • The relational skills you see with siblings and friends or even with adults or grandparents
  • The compassion or empathy that comes through your child
  • The fun they create
  • The boldness and courage they exhibit
  • The strong negotiation skills they have
  • The ability they have to communicate what they need, or what they want
The list is endless! Little things, big things, emotional things, practical things! Make sure your list has a variety and expresses real things which you really see as a strength. Sometimes the things that we find most frustrating about our kids is actually one of their greatest strengths which they are yet to learn to manage. Let’s never allow the challenge of parenting powerful kids to convince us there are not incredible things about our kids.

3. Keep your eyes open and share what you see!

Once you begin to value encouragement and become intentional about things you can add to your list, you’re well on your way to growing a capacity for reflecting strength to those around you! Now this one is probably not the place to start, but is possibly the most rewarding of the suggestions today on how to grow these skills at home. It’s simply the idea of keeping your eyes and ears open for moments of reflecting back to your kids how you see them in a positive sense.
You might hear one of your kids say something kind, or use good manners – this is the moment!  Turn to them, make intentional eye contact and speak a direct identity statement to them.  Something like “you are such a kind person” or “you really are very polite in the way you treat your family”.  These might seem cheesy at times, but trust me… they are powerful reflections that are kicking off narratives which will play back over and over in the mind of your child as they reflect on themselves.
Look for the little and big things and take a moment – you will both experience the joy of this exercise as you continue sharing what you see!
We count it an absolute privilege to be part of the network of resources you have to draw on to see that happen in your child’s journey! Thanks for allowing us to share the challenge with you of raising empowered, confident and caring kids! We are so glad to be on the journey with you!
We know there are so many things pulling for time, attention and budget in our families. We would love to encourage you to invest in the development of your kids through having them share in one of our upcoming and life giving holiday camp programs on the Mornington Peninsula!
Headshot of Brad Olsen - Managing director at Golden Valleys Adventure Camp in Flinders on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria.

Brad Olsen

Managing Director

“Thanks for being part of the village.”