When Sarah Nordin of West Fargo, North Dakota, received a video of her five-year-old son, Cohen, reciting daily affirmations with his nanny, Eva Abfalter, the heartwarming scene stirred deep emotions.
“I didn’t even know they were doing this each day,” Nordin confessed. The routine had been an under-the-radar practice between the nanny and the boy for nearly a year before Cohen hopped on his school bus.
The uplifting ritual started when Abfalter, a speech and language pathology student at Minnesota State University Moorhead, took inspiration from a TikTok video. Witnessing Cohen, who has Down syndrome, recite these affirmations, despite the speech challenges that often accompany the condition, was an inspiring and moving experience.
“Initially, the affirmations were barely intelligible when he started,” Abfalter recalls. Today, Cohen proudly proclaims, “I am smart, I am handsome, I am going to have a good day, I am important,” with barely any prompting. “Now he can pretty much say them all on his own. Sometimes I prompt him with the first sound, but that’s it,” beams a proud Abfalter.
These simple yet empowering words have helped Cohen view himself in a new, positive light. “I think it can really change the way a child views themselves,” Abfalter states, sharing her hope that Cohen can draw strength and confidence from these affirmations, especially on challenging days.
Seeing Cohen take this tool of affirmation into school each day is a gratifying sight for the dedicated nanny. Abfalter exudes pride for Cohen’s speech progression, but modestly deflects credit for the achievement. “I’d love to take credit, but it’s he and his family that put in the work every day. He’s the hardest working kid I know,” she humbly adds.
Cohen’s love for his encouraging nanny is reciprocal. Nordin expresses, “She believes in him just as much as we do.”
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:11