When teacher Amanda Cox asked her students to refresh her stash of supplies by turning in pencils they’d borrowed, she never expected what would happen next. One student asked to keep the pencils his mom gave him, and as Cox sharpened the stash, she noticed that those pencils had writing on them — sweet affirmations such as “You are so talented” and “You will change the world.” Cox’s now-viral Facebook post about the incident explained that the student’s mother had hand-written these confidence-building encouragements on each of his pencils. While this is a seemingly small gesture, there’s a lot to take home from it.

A mother helps her daughter learn to skate

1. Constant reminders are important. You tell your kiddo you love them every day…. or at least you think you probably do. Certainly you mean to. Between carpool, pre-K, sports, work, and everything else you do daily, it’s easy to unintentionally skip the little things. Whether you write on pencils, leave little notes, or do something else, a constant (or at least daily) reminder of your child’s worth can have a major impact.

2. You’re their best squad. Having someone in your corner is important — regardless of age. When it comes to your child, knowing that their parent is cheering for them is a serious confidence-builder.

3. Speaking in specifics shows you’re paying attention. Saying “I love you” is always important. But it’s not the only affirmation that can make a difference to your child. Getting specific in communicating your child’s best qualities and greatest talents is an easy way to show them their worth. The more personal you get, the more they know you’re paying attention.

4. Self-worth comes from within, but you can help nurture it. It’s true that ultimately self-worth comes from within. But external forces are an essential part of helping your kiddo build these super-positive feelings, and a parent’s guidance and encouragement set the foundations that help someone weather all the times other people don’t believe in them. When your child knows that you think they’re the best and brightest, they’ll start believing it too.

A woman crouches to speak with her child

5. Empowering them has positive effects on others. The ripple effect of your parenting actions affects more than just your own child. When the little boy in Cox’s class offered to share his own pencils, his mother’s words were able to touch others. As Cox says in her FB post, “Thanks to his mom, he was reminded of his self-worth and wanted to share the same with his classmates.”

6. Creating a big impact doesn’t take much time. Putting a few words on a pencil certainly isn’t time-consuming — decorating pencils or writing notes is easy enough that you can prep a month of affirmations in minutes. (Definitely less time than it takes you to scroll through and catch up on your IG feed.) Now think about the major impact your two-minute writing session could have: Dedicating that tiny amount of time is clearly worth it. “This probably took his mom a few minutes to do,” Cox noted, “yet it lit up his whole day at school.”

7. There’s power in the element of surprise. A morning hug, an “I love you” at bedtime, and a goodnight kiss are all things your tot expects, which means they can over time lose their most immediate and obvious impact. So what happens when they pick up a pencil, note, or anything else that tells them, “You’re the best!”? Sometimes the most helpful help comes when your kiddo doesn’t expect it.

8. Remember that little care goes a long way. “Even if you think it is cheesy or [that] you don’t have enough time or that you will have little impact, remember that you may be the only one telling and reminding them these things,” Cox writes, “and EVERY kid needs to know their value.” And she’s completely right. When it’s easy to get swept away in the business of everyday life, this simple action from one parent to one kid becomes so very important.

How do you show your kids you care? Tweet us @BritandCo.

(Photos via Getty)