Do you ever just know that your child is struggling with their self-esteem? Maybe it’s the way they are carrying themselves, or the small comments that they make. Self-esteem is an essential aspect of your child’s development that lays the foundation for a happy and successful life. It encompasses their beliefs and feelings about themselves, their abilities, and their worth. Nurturing self-esteem in children will equip them with the necessary confidence and resilience that they need to navigate life’s challenges. But, it doesn’t always feel easy to nurture self-esteem in your kids. Self-esteem-building activities can help.
Why Build Self-Esteem in Kids?
Developing healthy self-esteem in children empowers them in so many ways! When kids possess a strong sense of self-worth, they become more confident in facing challenges, seeking help when needed, and embracing their mistakes as learning opportunities. They also form healthier relationships, respect themselves and others, and feel in control of their lives.
Conversely, low self-esteem can lead to difficulties in making and keeping friends, feelings of frustration, anger, and anxiety, being subject to teasing and bullying, adopting self-defeating attitudes and behaviors, succumbing to peer pressure, and withdrawing from social interactions and activities.
By actively pursuing self-esteem-building activities, parents can help children overcome challenges and develop a positive outlook on themselves and the world around them.
Signs of Low Self-Esteem
Do you know the signs of low self-esteem in children? When you can recognize that your child is struggling, you can address and support them in building up their self-esteem. Common signs of low self-esteem include:
- Lack of motivation or passion
- Difficulties with friends
- Negative self-talk
- Frequent frustration
- Fear of new situations or embarrassment
- Resistance to trying new things
- Issues with communication
- Behavioral problems.
It’s so important to recognize these signs and intervene early. This can help you to prevent long-term effects of low self-esteem on your child’s well-being, such as relationship issues, weight problems, stress, body image challenges, anxiety, or even dependency on substances like alcohol or drugs.
Building Self-Esteem Activities: A Fun Path to Self-Worth and Confidence
It’s not enough to sit your child down and tell them to feel better about themselves. Kids, even teens, learn through doing things. They learn through play. Try these ideas:
Write a letter to yourself
Encourage your child to reflect on their strengths, achievements, and positive qualities by writing a letter to themselves. This can help them recognize their worth and reinforce self-appreciation.
Practice accepting compliments
Organize group activities where kids can exchange compliments and practice accepting them gracefully, responding with a simple “thank you.” You could even do this around the dinner table together as a family each night.
Reframe negative self-talk
Teach children to reframe negative thoughts into positive ones by writing them down on paper. On a blank piece of paper, draw a line down the middle. Write down common negative thoughts on the left column. In the right column, encourage your child to reframe that negative thought into a positive one. This can help your child challenge negative self-perceptions and replace them with affirming and empowering statements.
Celebrate achievements and accomplishments
You are your child’s best cheerleader. Help them recognize and celebrate their achievements, both big and small. This cultivates a sense of pride and reinforces their abilities and worth. Make a big deal about the good that comes from your child. If you don’t, no one will!
Keep a self-esteem journal
Encourage your child to keep a journal where they can reflect on their daily experiences, successes, and moments of gratitude. Writing down positive aspects of their lives helps them appreciate who they are and develop resilience to whatever life throws their way.
Create a Mind map
Have your child create a visual representation of their strengths and positive qualities using a mind map. In the middle, have them write their name. Web out from there what they are good at. What they like about themselves, and more. This activity allows them to see themselves in a positive light and reinforces their self-worth.
Keep a gratitude Journal
Help your kids to see the positive by keeping a daily gratitude journal. Each day, they can write down three things they are grateful for, nurturing a sense of appreciation for the positive aspects of their lives.
Make a list of “Things I like about me”
Together with your child, create a list of qualities, talents, and characteristics they appreciate about themselves. This activity helps them focus on their positive attributes.
Activities such as drawing, painting, crafting, and writing stories are so good for kids! Creative outlets provide opportunities for self-expression, fostering a sense of accomplishment and self-worth. As your kids express themselves, they’ll learn more about themselves.
Teach basic life skills
One time I asked a close family member how I could foster better self-esteem in one of my kids. Her response…” teach them basic life skills.” That advice has held true for me.
When kids learn practical life skills like cooking, doing laundry, or managing money, they gain confidence in themselves. Being independent is a great way to help them feel good about themselves.
Dedicate quality one-on-one time with each of your children. As you spend time with your child, they feel their value in your life. You, more than anyone else in the world, have the power to make them feel valuable and important.
Need ideas for one-on-one time with your kids?
Read: Kids Date Ideas
Encourage age-appropriate chores
Responsibility and achievement can help your child feel capable. As they learn to complete tasks independently, it promotes self-esteem and self-reliance.
Read: Kids Chores By Age
Help your child select two affirmations, such as “I can do hard things” or “I am capable,” and write them down and place them in visible locations like bathroom mirrors or on a computer screen. Encourage them to say these affirmations every time they see them, reinforcing positive self-beliefs.
Work with your child to set SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound) goals. Track progress and celebrate milestones along the way to foster a sense of accomplishment.
Read: Setting SMART Goals for Kids
Play cooperative board games
Opt for cooperative board games that emphasize teamwork and valuing every member’s contribution. This promotes a sense of collaboration rather than competition. My kids love collaborative games, and we have far less hurt feelings or sad endings. Here are a couple of our favorite collaborative games:
Discuss good friendships
Talk to your kids about what makes a good friend. Have them write down qualities they desire in a friend and ways they can improve as friends themselves. This activity promotes self-reflection and encourages positive relationship-building skills.
Help your child find and explore music genres they enjoy. Music can be a powerful tool for self-expression, and boosting confidence. My oldest son loves music and uses it to help himself regulate his mood when he’s feeling low (or even happy).
Make a bucket list
Sit down and help your child create a bucket list of things they want to experience or achieve. Setting goals and having exciting aspirations instills a sense of purpose and excitement, fueling their self-esteem.
As a family, create a compliment jar where family members can write uplifting messages for each other. Reading these compliments can help your kids internalize positive feedback and boost their self-esteem.
Play self-esteem games
Explore games designed to enhance self-esteem. These games promote emotional well-being and do it in a fun way! Our favorites are below.
Read books about self-esteem
Read books that talk about self-esteem to your kids. Books are so effective at teaching uncomfortable or hard topics. They are also great at introducing talking points on these hard topics. Kind like an “in” to the tough things you want to say. One of my favorites is A Bad Case of Stripes!
Read: Kids Books for Self-Esteem
Complete a kindness challenge
Start a kindness challenge with your kids. A kindness challenge is where you perform acts of kindness for others. Acts of kindness foster empathy, compassion, and a sense of self-worth derived from making a positive impact on others’ lives.
Read: Kindness Activities for Kids
Practice mindfulness and breathing
Introduce your child to mindfulness practices and meditation techniques. Helping your child to clear their thoughts can be a great way to help them stop negative self-talk and cultivate better thoughts.
Mindfulness can also help them manage stress, increase focus, and cultivate a sense of calm.
Read: Mindfulness Books for Kids
Build Exercise Habits
Help your child find an exercise (or two) that they love. This could be anything like walking, running, dancing, or practicing yoga. Regular exercise releases endorphins, improves mood, and boosts self-confidence.
Decrease screen time
Set limits on screen time to ensure that your kids have ample opportunities for real-life interactions, physical activities, and self-reflection.
Building self-esteem in your kids is a journey that requires consistent effort and support. But you can create a nurturing environment where your kids will develop a positive self-image, embrace their unique qualities, and face challenges with confidence and resilience. Remember, each child is unique, so adapt these activities to suit their individual personalities and interests. Together, let’s empower our children to become confident, self-assured individuals who believe in their own worth and potential.