Coloring for Self-Esteem

Sara Hess creates kids coloring affirmation pages

Local marriage and family therapist and certified perinatal mental health provider SARAH HESS has been working on creating a unique set of tools to help children cultivate a positive attitude about themselves. Hess works with adults helping them navigate changes in family dynamics and in emotional issues which led her to sub-specialize in working with mothers and their families, especially during and after pregnancy. Her work includes coloring pages, now in circulation within Brunswick County Schools. Hess’s coloring affirmation pages stimulate creative thinking around how to build childhood—and lifelong—self-esteem.

HessWILMA: How does your professional background inform the coloring affirmation concept?
Hess: “My experience provides skills training, respite, and rehabilitation, group therapy for families and children—to name a few capacities! I’ve observed the importance of stability and the need for caregiver resources to provide support and model healthy emotional responses to children in their care.”

WILMA: What are coloring affirmation pages, and how do they work?
Hess: “Language is powerful, and the narrative that we utilize in our day-to-day lives becomes very influential on our beliefs about ourselves and our abilities. The purpose of these pages is to start a dialogue between caregiver and child about using positive language when describing oneself and to provide an opportunity to bond and facilitate further discussion. The pages can also be utilized by the child alone, but caregiver involvement is always encouraged. This set of coloring affirmations focuses on four different self-esteem building aspects with the themes of “Strong,” “Smart,” “Kind,” and “Brave” Each page has three positive, affirming statements that can be read to the child, or the child can read themselves.”

WILMA: How does color itself factor into the affirmation process?
Hess: “Coloring provides relaxation to the amygdala which is the area of our brain that is impacted by stressors. Coloring can also be an expression of self, an ability to express creativity, and can help with processing feelings. Representative of diversity and designed to be inclusive, the pages are literally a blank slate– so the user can make the characters into anyone that they want them to be. This process helps to reinforce the user’s positive qualities and abilities.”

WILMA: Can you speak to the importance of early attachment issues and how your affirmation pages assist with this process?
Hess: “Bonding and attachment styles are formed within the first five years of life and continue to impact literally every relationship dynamic that we have for the rest of our lives. These pages serve as a tool and resource for caregivers to open a dialogue with children about various topics in their life which may include acceptance, interactions with peers at school, interactions with siblings, perceptions of self, and fostering a healthy sense of self-esteem.”

WILMA: What are the advantages of practicing affirmations from an early age?
Hess: “Affirmations can help to reshape our neural pathways and challenge currently held beliefs about ourselves that can hold us back. Practicing as a child allows for more time to build resiliency and to foster beliefs of support and acceptance. Affirmations are not meant to ignore any difficulties one might be facing in their life; rather, they’re intended to focus on what is within the user’s ability to control and positive aspects to be highlighted or focused on.”

WILMA: Finally, how can parents support the affirmation process in everyday life?
Hess: “Parents can help to model the use of positive affirmations to children by starting or ending the day with a reflection of three positive aspects they appreciate about their child, and themselves, and encouraging the child to identify positive qualities that they appreciate about themselves. Parents can also ask engaging questions of their child to encourage communication and create an atmosphere of trust where the child can communicate freely on their own.”

Find the coloring pages at

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Categories: Health