Of course you know your kids are awesome, but it’s important that they feel that greatness from within too. A healthy level of self-esteem and self-appreciation is key for your kid’s development as they grow up. It will provide a base for handling successes and failures, problem-solving, and relationships they’ll encounter through life.
While being attentive and making your kid feel super special might seem obvious, it’s important that you’re realistic with them too. You don’t want them thrown into the real world thinking it’s all glittery rainbows and butterflies when it’s most definitely not.
The goal is to foster a solid balance of self-confidence and optimism for your kid. Mix that with sensible expectations and the tools to learn from mistakes, and you’ve got a fantastic self-esteem cocktail. All of this will ward off feelings of negativity and anxiety when dealing with tricky situations, while keeping them grounded so they don’t go too far in the other direction.
So, where do you start? These simple self-esteem activities can help build your little one’s confidence and self-image, all under the guise of having fun.
1. It’s Me! collage
For those artistic kiddos out there, a classic collage craft that’s centered all around the amazing person they are, is a great choice. Encourage them to cut out pictures from magazines that represent things all about them.
Have them add items such as favorite foods, sports, colors, animals, interests, etc. The end result will be a fun visual showcasing all the reasons they’re such a cool kid.
Looking for inspiration? Pinterest is always a good place to start your search.
2. Chores? Yes, chores
This activity is one both you and your child can benefit from! All kidding aside, giving your kid a sense of responsibility and independence by doling out a reasonable chore or two can be really effective. It will show that you trust them.
Making sure the task is age-appropriate is key, otherwise you might end up with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches lovingly crafted by your five-year-old chef for dinner. Having them pack their lunch, feed the family pet, or make their bed are just a few starter ideas for your kid to tackle on their own.
You can use a rewards chart to keep track of their progress and measure their accomplishments.
A bit of guidance is ok but give them space to accomplish the chore without you —and pay them a compliment when they’ve finished. Celebrating success builds self-esteem and confidence.
3. Feel good journal
Grab a blank journal that your kid can deck out with their own flair before writing in it. Each evening, have them write down, (or tell you and you write it, depending on age) a few good things that happened throughout the day.
They can be as small as, “Jimmy told a funny joke at lunch” to an accomplishment like tying their own shoes for the first time. This consistent activity encourages your kid to focus on all the positive, “feel good” things from their day.
4. Positive affirmations
Positive affirmations are simple, daily statements that are used to build confidence and self-esteem. Self affirmations are a powerful tool that kids can use to reframe negative thoughts and teach them positive self-talk. For example, “I can’t do it!” might be a frequent motto from your kid. Instead, suggest a more upbeat, “I can try another way. I won’t give up.” This engaging activity will give your kid tangible examples of transforming negative thinking to positive thinking. Add in a magic wand for theatrics and bonus points.
To really bring this activity full circle at the end of the day, Moshi’s mantra meditations reinforce this subject in a relaxing and soothing way that will pair nicely with the self-talk chart.
5. New skill time
Teaching your kid a new skill can be quite the endeavor. However, it can also be a rewarding experience, resulting in important lessons and ultimately helping them build their self-esteem.
Dealing with setbacks and failures in life is totally normal, but as a kid, you don’t know that. This bonding experience can serve as a tricky tool to teach this life lesson, disguised as fun, one-on-one time together.
Whether you’re teaching them how to dribble a basketball, or ride a bike, these experiences are the perfect time to show that you can learn from your mistakes and try again. Connect by sharing about your mishaps, which will help them to open up and know it’s okay.
Self-esteem boosting tips
- Help your child set realistic goals. If they seem a tad far-fetched, suggest some short-term steps that work towards the big target.
- Model positive self-love and talk. Share your accomplishments with your kid, including the skills and effort you used to get there. Use this as an example when they need encouragement to achieve their goals.
- Give them independence. If your kid has a problem, quell your quick instinct reaction to jump in and immediately help them. Instead, let them have a go at solving it themself. They’ll feel extra accomplished when they do.
- Use specific praise. Instead of reacting with the usual “great!” or “awesome!” try commenting in more detail to what they’re showing you. For example, if they present a cartwheel that they’ve been working on, try a phrase like “I’m impressed how straight you kept your legs!”
- Nurture their interests. Sign your kid up for a physical activity or sport they’d like to try. Teamwork can be a great way to foster self-confidence.
- Instill and cultivate their adventurous spirit (within reason). Exposing your kid to new situations and encouraging them to try new things will naturally help build their self-esteem.