Good self-esteem is such an important element to being happy, resilient, and successful. When children feel confident in who they are, they are less likely to be bullied, have trouble in school, and struggle with relationships.
Because self-esteem is so important, it is crucial that children are taught skills and concepts that help them develop and strengthen their sense of self-confidence. Utilizing creative ideas to boost a child’s self-esteem can make the process fun and rewarding.
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Why is Self-Esteem so Important to Child Development
Self-esteem is directly related to happiness, success in school (and later in career and life goals), in relationships, and in overall mental health and well-being.
“When children feel confident and secure, they’re more likely to succeed in school and achieve personal goals. As they get older, they learn to confront problems and resist peer pressure. More important, having a positive self-image helps a child feel happy and capable of maintaining personal relationships.”Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh
Because self-esteem is so important, finding ways to boost our children’s self-confidence and self-worth must be at the forefront of our work as parents, teachers, and mental health professionals.
How to Boost Self Esteem in a Child
There are many different ways to boost self-esteem in children. In general, research tends to agree that the following will help.
- Allow Your Child to Solve Their Own Problems and Take Risks: Children need the space to test their wings so that they learn they are capable of flying, so to speak. This can happen at home where children are allowed to try out new and different solutions to problems. It can also happen at school where children are encouraged to think through problems and come up with unique and personal solutions.
- Allow Your Child to Make Their Own Choices: Children are often not allowed to make major decisions in their lives. However, if children are never allowed to determine and make choices on their own, they will begin to believe that they are not capable and competent. As a parent or educator, it can be hard to watch children make choices that you know will end badly. However, unless it comes down to a safety issue, it is better to let a child try and fail than to constantly swoop in and make choices for them.
- Encourage Your Child to Find or Focus on Their Passions: Allowing children to identify their own likes and dislikes is important. This will naturally lead to a bit of trial and error for some kids (which is okay!) Once a child feels passionate about something, encourage them to really dig in and give it their all. This helps reinforce the idea that they are skilled and capable of accomplishing their goals and dreams.
- Give Your Child Responsibilities: Children need responsibility in order to learn that they are able to be responsible and independent. Chores or classroom duties are an excellent way to encourage responsibility in kids.
- Praise Character Traits, Effort, and Attitude over Behaviors: It is often much easier to praise kids for their obvious strengths. For example, “Good job on your report card.” Instead, saying, “Wow, I see you got all A’s on your report card – I’m so proud of all of the effort and concentration you put in.”
- Make Your Home a Safe Zone: Another very important aspect of building self-esteem is to create a safe space for your child. Making your home or classroom a place where there is absolutely no bullying, name-calling, or making fun of others helps to create an environment where children learn to communicate and grow.
Creative Ideas to Boost Self Esteem in a Child
In addition to these general concepts for developing self-esteem, it is also good to purposefully engage in activities and conversations that help kids learn about self-esteem. These activities can help kids learn how to have better self-esteem.
Here are some fun and creative ideas to boost a child’s self-esteem…
Self Esteem Games for Elementary Students
If you have a child who is struggling with their self-esteem or self-confidence, it can be hard to know how to help them. As a counselor, teacher, or parent, you want your kids to feel good about themselves and know that they are competent and capable.
One creative way to address the problem of low self-esteem or low self-confidence is to use games. Kids love to learn through games. It allows them to get outside of their heads and practice skills in a non-stressful situation.
Playing games as a family or in a classroom can also be a great way to teach concepts in non-threatening ways. Children often learn through play. The following games are sure to have your child’s confidence built up in no time!
Guess Who: Family (or classroom) Style
For this game, you will want to play with your whole family (or with a classroom.) To start, write everyone’s name down on a piece of paper and fold it in half. Pass the names out. (It’s okay if someone gets their own name!)
Next, instruct everyone to think of 3-5 amazing things about the person that they got. If your children are old enough to understand, encourage them to try to think of unique abilities and specific character traits. (I often explain that saying “they are nice” is a pretty generic trait. However, “they are really good at helping others with homework” is a more specific ability.)
Once everyone has their amazing traits, go around and let each player describe the 3-5 traits. Once they have shared, everyone else tries to guess who they are talking about.
Bonus Idea: If you are doing this in a classroom, have kids write the traits down on a piece of paper that they can then give to the student they described.
Totem is a great community or family building game that is sure to build self-esteem. You are able to create “totems” of each other’s strengths and communicate through the cards what you appreciate and love about each other. Find out more here.
I Like Me 123
I Like Me 123 is another great game to play as a group or with your family. It again brings in an element of calling out strengths and things you love about each other. The fun thing about this game is that it also brings in some silly and fun elements to help lower the anxiety and pressure that can come when trying to name strengths, emotions, etc. Click here for more details.
Make Your Own Board Game
This DIY board game kit is a great way to boost self-esteem in your child. Letting them be creative and design their own game helps build their confidence. When you play their game with them, it allows them to see that their time and ideas are valuable to you. This kit has everything your kiddo could want to make a super cool board game. Click Here for more details.
Strong Suit is a fun game that can be played with 2 – 5 players. (I love that I can choose to play this one on one or with a whole group or family!) It has three different types of cards that work on personal development/self-esteem, emotional intelligence/naming feelings and emotions, and boosting social skills. The goal is to build a tower with your cards which is engaging and fun! Check it out here.
One-Of-A-Kind is a card game that plays like Crazy 8’s but adds in the element of questions that get to the heart of self-esteem. It is a great way to start conversations with your children and get a peek into what they are thinking about themselves. It works for elementary-aged kids and can be played with just 2 players or as a family. Click here for more info.
This is a fun game to play in a classroom or group therapy setting. You can download a free printable bingo card below.
To play, set a time limit and have participants move around the room filling out their bingo cards.
When a square is completed initials should be placed inside the box. Some squares will need an initial from a partner and others will be initialed by the player.
You may want to set a limit to how many times a person can initial someone else’s board. (This will encourage participants to share with others and not just gravitate towards their close friends.)
The first person to get a black out or the person with the most squares filled in is the winner.
Creative Self-Esteem Crafts for Kids
Craft projects are another fun and creative way to boost self-esteem in kids. Here are some fun art projects that can be completed at home or in the classroom.
Mini Book About Me
Mini books are a great self-esteem boosting craft project. They are easy and fun to make. Plus, they are small enough to carry in a pocket or backpack for reinforcement!
Step 1: Cut a sheet of paper in half. (So that you have 2 pieces that are 8.5” x 5.5”.) Next, fold the two pieces in half to make a booklet. (You’ll end up with a folded book that is 4.25″ tall and 2.25″ wide”)
Step 2: Stack as many pages as you like and staple together in the middle.
Step 3: Title the front cover with a positive statement such as “I am amazing” or “What’s Great About Me.”
Step 4: On the inside pages you can provide the following prompts. Then have kids draw or write about your positive traits, characteristics, skills, and talents.
- I’m really proud that I…
- I’m great at…
- When I make a mistake I…
- I’m talented at…
- I’m good at…
- People like that I…
- My super power is…
- I want to try…
This is another great project that works really well for an individual or a classroom.
Step 1: Decorate a Container. (Some ideas for good containers: square tissue boxes, baby wipe container, jar, cup, paper lunch bag)
Step 2: Write compliments, positive affirmations, and words of encouragement down on strips of paper. (Check out this article for a list of positive affirmations for kids.)
Step 3: Fill the container with the compliments and take one out anytime you need it!
*This craft would also be fun to do with a partner where you write the compliments and encouragement for the other person.
This sweet craft is a versatile and easy project that can be done individually or for a partner. (It also makes a great option for a parent and child to spend quality time together.)
Option 1: Goal Getter Flowers
Step 1: Cut out a circle which will be the middle of your flower. 3”-4” or so is a good diameter to aim for. You can use a cup to trace if needed.
Step 2: Cut out 5-8 petals. Make sure that they are big/wide enough to write a sentence on.
Step 3: Glue the petals to the circle using a glue stick.
Step 4: In the center circle, write a goal. (Try out a new sport, increase my math grade, make a new friend, etc.)
Step 5: Use the outer petals to write ideas for how you can accomplish the goal. You can also include a word of encouragement or positive affirmation as well.
Option 2: Positive Affirmation Flowers
Follow Steps 1-3 as mentioned above.
Step 4: In the center circle write a self-affirming positive affirmation such as “I Love Myself” or “I am Proud of Myself”
Step 5: Use the petals to write additional positive affirmations. Try to find ones that challenge you to grow and become more confident in yourself.
Other Creative Ideas to Boost a Child’s Self Esteem
There are also other fun options to boost a child’s self-esteem and self confidence including:
- Books about Self-Esteem for Kids
- Coloring Books on Self-Worth
- Workbooks that Promote Self-Esteem in Children
- Growth Mindset Activities for Kids
Children’s Books that Address Self-Esteem
There are many great books that can help bring up the idea of self esteem and help your child learn to have better self-confidence. Here are some of my favorites:
This is a sweet book that talks about how you should take care of and love yourself. It has beautiful illustrations and gentle reminders and ideas about how to love yourself. You can Purchase it Here.
I Can Handle It
This is a great book that will give your kids a great positive affirmation to use in overwhelming, frustrating situations. It walks through different daily scenarios and talks about different ways to respond to the frustrations ending each with the positive statement, “I Can Handle It.” I like this book for self-esteem because it really helps reinforce that belief in your child that they are capable to handle hard things.
I Am Phenomenal Because I am Me
This is a great book about self-esteem in the face of bullying. It is a sweet, easy read. Plus I love that it features an African American main character which can be hard to find when searching for children’s books. You can purchase this great self-confidence building book here.
Belinda the Ballerina
This is a story about a girl who wants to be a dancer but has huge feet. It is a great story of pursuing what you love no matter what anyone else thinks or says. It is out of print but you can get a used copy on Amazon and it is definitely worth it!
Coloring Books that Boost Self-Worth
Coloring books and pages can be another powerful yet subtle way to help your children develop confidence in themselves and their uniqueness. Here are a few great options:
I Am: Positive Affirmations for Kids
This is a great coloring book that features pages with positive affirmations and African American girls with natural hair styles. It is great for any girl who is struggling with self-esteem issues. Here is a link to purchase this coloring book that focuses on self esteem for girls.
Notebook Doodles: Amazing Me
This is a great coloring and activity book that is full of positive affirmations that are fun to color. Plus, the pages are perforated so they are easy to tear out and share with a group or classroom. You can purchase this great coloring book here.
Workbooks that will Boost Self-Esteem in Children
The Brave Guide to Gratitude
Did you know that gratitude has been shown to help improve self-esteem? According to Psychology Today, “studies have shown that gratitude reduces social comparisons. Rather than becoming resentful toward people who have more… — a major factor in reduced self-esteem— grateful people are able to appreciate other people’s accomplishments.”
The Brave Guide to Gratitude has 8 worksheets and activities that help kids learn and practice gratitude. It is a free printable workbook that can be downloaded below.
Building Self Confidence through Growth Mindset Activities
Growth mindset is another area that can have a really positive impact on your child’s self-esteem. Typically growth mindset incorporates ideas around dealing with failure, developing an attitude of “I can do it” around learning, and helps kids address all of the negative self-talk they can have.
Growth Mindset Activities for Kids
There are many different resources in this field. This Growth Mindset Workbook is an excellent resource that provides a good overview and range of activities depending on what area you want to focus on with your child. Check out the Growth Mindset Activities for Kids Workbook here.
DIY Positive Affirmations Kit
This printable positive affirmation kit is a great way to encourage kids to develop their own positive affirmations. The kit also provides templates and ideas on how to use positive affirmations to encourage kids.
Creative Ideas to Boost Self-Esteem
As you can see, there are many different creative ways to boost self-esteem in children. Using games, crafts, books, and activities can give you a whole toolbox to address low self-esteem issues.