5 Self Esteem Building Activities for Children and Why It Matters!
“Mommy, I can’t do anything right!” These few words may be your first clue that your child’s sense of self may be under assault. But simple, self esteem building activities can help turn your child’s attitude around.
It can be heart-breaking to hear your child make comments that reflect low self esteem. As a parent, you want to do anything you can to protect your child from unhappiness, including harsh self-judgment. But no matter how much love and support your give your kids, what they encounter in school and out in the rest of the world can knock their self esteem down.
How you respond to this at home can make all the difference between building up, or knocking down, your child’s self esteem.
Parental Love and Self Esteem
It’s vital for a child to know that his or her parents – or at least one parent or adult – thinks they are wonderful. Unconditional love from an adult sets the foundation for all future self image. But while a heart-to-heart talk with a parent or grandparent can sometimes help raise a child’s self esteem, it may not be enough. Depending on your child’s age, he or she may write off anything you say as exaggerated praise. “You have to say that; you’re my mom!” Sometimes its hard to win for losing, but don’t give up. Your persistence matters. You can make self esteem building activities a part of your child’s daily life.
5 Self Esteem Boosting Activities
Simple activities can help give your child a better understanding about his or her own worth and a stronger sense of self. Children may see self esteem boosting activities as fun (instead of therapeutic). Here are some activities to try.
- Make a collage of strengths. Collages are fun and don’t require significant artistic skills. All you need are some old magazines, scissors (or you can just tear out the pictures), and some glue. Help your child identify some of his or her strengths and then find pictures or words that go with it. This is a great self esteem developing exercise. “Remember when you caught the biggest fish last summer?” can be reflected by a magazine picture of a fish. Don’t focus just on accomplishments. If your child was kind to a baby nephew at the last holiday gathering, use a picture of a smiling baby. If she was brave on the first day of school, use a picture of a dragon (or something else scary) with a big X through it. If possible, put a picture of the child in the middle of a poster board to represent the self and glue the other pictures around it. Help them feel the joy of being recognized for all they have accomplished no matter how trivial to you. These are self esteem building exercises for your child, not for you. Then hang the poster in the child’s bedroom to give them a quick self esteem booster they can look at any time.
- Play a board game. Board games vary in difficulty, which makes them a good choice for children. You can often find a board game that suits your child’s strengths and abilities, such as counting and keeping score. Playing a board game encourages your child to build skills like teamwork and strategy while providing an opportunity to accept praise about these skills, which can lift self esteem and improve his or her sense of self. Being part of a family activity like playing a board game also reinforces the idea that you value spending time with your child and that people have fun when they are around your child. This self esteem building activity is fun for everyone.
- Do a simple craft. The craft sections of department stores (or craft stores) can yield many self esteem building activities. Pick up some wooden airplanes to assemble, rugs that can be hooked, or outlined paintings waiting to be filled in. These simple crafts offer your child an expressive outlet while giving them a nice feeling of accomplishment at the end of the craft. Being able to show off the craft encourages more praise and more self esteem, as well as a stronger definition of self.
- Perform a simple chore. You know how good you feel about yourself after the entire sink is empty and all the dishes are clean, dry, and stacked neatly on the shelves? Household chores can be self esteem building activities. The chore you assign can be daily, weekly, or whatever, as long as you are clear about when you’d like it to be completed. Giving your children chores shows that you trust them with responsibility and that you believe in their abilities to perform tasks that are good for the entire family. Ask your child to help with dusting, washing windows, setting the table, pairing socks, feeding the dog, or whatever you feel your child could master. Cooking and serving a side dish or dessert helps a child develop a special skill and boosts self esteem.
- Use guided imagery of super powers. If your child is feeling particularly low, walk them through some guided imagery. Encourage your child to breathe deeply and to close his or her eyes. Ask the child to imagine that they have any super power in the world, and then ask them what they would do with this power. Help them to be very specific by asking lots of open-ended questions. Imagining that you can do something is like using the power of affirmation, and it can be a miracle for a child’s self esteem. Children will feel powerful when talking about super powers. Afterwards, praise your child for using imagination and creativity. This is a powerful self esteem building activity. Validate their efforts, for doing so validates them, and validation is a building block in the foundation of your child’s self esteem.
Self Esteem at Any Age
Do you think your ‘tween or teen child is too old to appreciate your praise? Think again. Children during those transitional years face the toughest challenges in maintaining their self esteem. Kids never outgrow their need to hear that their parents think they’re wonderful. They might roll their eyes or brush off your comments, but your opinion will always matter to them and will affect their self esteem in ways you can’t yet imagine. So go ahead and point out when your child of any age does something that impresses you. Be genuine about it. Sincerity matters because your kids will see right through false praise. Support them now emotionally and they’ll remember forever. Especially during the struggles that come with adulthood. Your effort to do so today will stay with them forever, and that you appreciated them from the start, will help build a solid foundation for their emotional success well into the future.
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