Self Esteem as an Active Verb
We all know how important it is for us to foster a sense of self worth in our children, but how exactly do we go about doing it? We can tell our kids that they are smart, talented or kind, but how do we make them believe us? One of the best ways to get through to kids of all ages is by using self esteem activities. Pairing positive messages with games, skill builders, and group activities makes them more meaningful and personal. So next time you see your kid being too hard on herself, try one of these self esteem activities to help give her confidence a boost.
Ways to "DO" Self Esteem with Your Kids
The following activities can be used at any time and in almost any setting. They will be most effective if the participants trust one another and are comfortable. These would make a great addition to a special family night, party with friends, or reunion. However, you don’t have to wait for a special occasion to use self esteem activities. In fact, using any of these ideas on an ordinary day may make your child feel even better about himself because he’ll realize that there doesn’t have to be a big event in order to celebrate his unique qualities.
Self Esteem Activities for Children
Story about Me
You’ll need at least two people for this activity, but the group can be as large as you like. Provide each participant with paper and something to write with. Instruct each participant to write a story about or draw a picture of someone else in the group (make sure to assign names to each person so everyone will get a story/picture done about them). Encourage participants to write as many positive things about their person as possible. Once everyone is finished, have them share their stories in front of the entire group. For small children, ask them to describe their pictures and the things they like most about the person they drew. This self esteem activity not only helps kids learn to look for good in others, it also builds their own sense of self worth when they hear the good qualities others see in them.
This self esteem activity can be done with any size group or is effective used one on one. Each participant will need markers or crayons, scissors, and a piece of butcher paper that is large enough to lie down on so that someone else can trace the outline of his or her body. Let the participants draw in their features and then label each part of their body with the positive things they can do with that specific thing. For example, on an arm a participant might write, “gives good hugs,” “shares with others,” or “good at basketball.” Remind participants not to forget to draw in a heart and label it with all the positive emotional qualities they possess like being good friends or loving animals. After participants are finished, allow them to share their “Beautiful Bodies.”
Self Esteem Activities for Teens
This self esteem activity is best done with a large group and is especially appropriate for teens. This activity requires a variety of games (board games, video games, and physical challenges can all be easily incorporated) and $500 in play money for each participant. The games should be easy to play and not take more than 15 minutes to play one round. Hand out the money to each participant and tell them only that their objective is to have the most money at the end of the activity. Have the participants play the various games that you have prepared according to the normal rules of each game. While they are playing, do the following.
- For each negative, sarcastic, or self-deprecating comment made by a participant, confiscate $100 of his/her play money.
- For each player that shows good sportsmanship or good self esteem, award $100 of play money.
- Continue confiscating and awarding money according to the above guidelines for about 1 hour as the participants rotate amongst the different games. At no point should you tell the participants why you are taking or awarding money; let them figure it out on their own.
Once the participants are finished with all the games, have them sit down and count their money. Have a discussion about why certain members of the group may have more or less money than others. Tell the kids that the money represents their self worth. Each time they make a sarcastic or disparaging comment about themselves or others, they are reducing their value as a person. When they build up themselves or others with positive words, they are increasing their value as a person.
The Positive Problem
This activity requires at least 4 people and is helpful for those who need to work on being more positive in their outlook. Have the participants sit in a circle. Begin with one person and go around the circle. Each person must talk for 10 seconds and say only positive things. They may speak about whatever they wish or you can limit them to talking about themselves or others in the group. Once the 10 seconds have elapsed, the next person must repeat the exercise, but he or she can not repeat any of the things the first person said. Someone is “out” when he or she says something negative or repeats a previous comment. To make the game more challenging, you can increase the amount of time each person must speak. Play several rounds until there is only one person left. Once the game is finished, talk about why it may have been hard to come up with so many positive comments. Ask the participants how it made them feel to focus on the positive and whether or not they enjoyed hearing so many other positive thoughts. Remind them that positivity is contagious and that they can help themselves and others by focusing on the positive.