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Marvyn Harrison, author and founder of Dope Black Dads on the power of practising affirmations with kids

Inspirational dad Marvyn Harrison gives us the key to raising kids who burst with positivity. 

Each day, Marvyn Harrison – founder of Dope Black Dads – sits down with his children for ‘Mirror Talk’. This is the name they’ve given to their daily affirmation practice, a practice which can be transformational for our children’s confidence and self-belief (not to mention, our own).

Marvyn’s new children’s book, I Love Me!, aims to help more parents begin this daily habit with their little ones, and here he shares more about his own experience with practising affirmations and a few tips on how to start for those who are curious.

Can you tell us a little bit about Mirror Talk?

Mirror Talk is a practice that I did with both my children, Ocean and Blake, and it was there as a way of supporting them whenever they felt challenged, impacted, weak or powerless. I used the practice as a way to get closer to my children – I realised that my way to do this was to give them tools that they could use to improve their lives. 


What first made you decide to introduce your children to positive affirmations?

When I started using affirmations for myself in my early 30s, it was a way of re-energising myself after a long hard day or episodes of doubt. Sometimes I would look at my children and realise that I am not just their parent, I am their guardian and coach and – in the realm of guardian and coaching – affirmations are a really important tool. I wanted them to have the kind of dad that I didn't have, and for them to have the kind of tools and pep talks that I didn't have either. I'm also aware that sometimes I may not be available to support them, so I wanted them to have their own language that they could use during difficult times.


What advice would you give to parents working with affirmations for the first time?

Parents can use the guide given inside I Love Me!  which provides a comprehensive step-by-step process to deliver affirmations to children and connect with them. I would say just get lost in it, participate in it yourself and really process how you felt before and after doing it. It really can help adults and parents; it's not just a practice for children. 


In your experience, what effects have affirmations had for your family?

I see affirmations and mirror talk as the foundation of me getting much closer to my children and having that feeling that I always wanted, which is to be in tune with them and who they are and what they need. So it's a very personal tool for me. There is a long way still to go in raising them, but affirmations have really supported them in being the type of children that society needs.


How do you help restless kids to engage with affirmations?

In essence, children will lead you into their activities. The more you listen and follow them, the more you will find opportunities to engage with affirmations based on their behaviour. Sometimes things will go wrong or they will be very active, and you have to understand that these different ways of being are a superpower, not a challenge to normality. Often amazing children do not get to fulfil their potential because people are trying to make them normal, rather than honouring their gifts and superpowers.


What are the top three books you love reading with your kids? 

So I was raised on The Secret Seven, Through My Window and The Hungry Caterpillar. My kids have so many amazing books: they absolutely love The Gruffalo. Someone needs to start creating adult books in the guise of children's books – I don't care if it's 1000 pages long but if it looks like Through My Window, The Hungry Caterpillar or The Gruffalo I'm going to buy it. 


I Love Me!

by Diane Ewen

Book cover for I Love Me!

Positive statements for little readers, written by Marvyn Harrison who founded Dope Black Dads, and illustrated by Diane Ewen who created the illustrations for Floella Benjamin's Coming to England. The book is full of engaging and uplifting affirmations for every day of the week, helping young children prepare for nursery and school, including useful tips for parents and carers of young children.