So many children and teens are affected by poor self image, low self esteem, and lack of self confidence. It is so important that the development of high self esteem and positive self image is fostered in the school setting, because there is no guarantee that it is being established at home. Children pick up on cues from every aspect of their lives that teach them how to develop their sense of self. They see how their parents and other important adults in their lives present themselves, and often mirror that. If a parent openly shares how much they hate something about themselves, children hear that and can become self-conscious about that same aspect of themselves. If peers are making comments or bullying them for their appearance or ability, they may begin to believe it themselves. Positive adults, educators, and counselors must work to help a student combat all those negative messages. Schools can weave this into their lessons in many different ways. Here are some simple ways of building a child’s self-confidence:
- Give rewards and praise. Children are often only recognized when they are doing something problematic or exhibiting a difficult behavior. It is so important that we also notice when children are doing something right. Positive reinforcement and praise has a huge impact on self-esteem because the child begins to see that they are doing well, instead of always being told how they are being “bad” or doing something “wrong.”
- Celebrate differences. No two children are the same, yet part of growing up is trying to fit in with peers and feeling the need to blend in. When children are taught that their differences make them unique instead of something to be ashamed of, they can look at things in a more positive aspect.
- Set goals. When a child is working towards a goal, they can feel like they have something to accomplish and something to look forward to. There may be some setbacks along the way, but that does not make it a failure, but yet, part of the process. When children achieve goals, they feel a sense of accomplishment, which can be a big self esteem booster.
Here are a few articles about promoting self-esteem in the classroom that I have found helpful when working with a student who has low self-esteem:
This video tells about where our self-esteem and views about our success come from. It is very informational and can be shown to youth who may want some more information on how self-esteem is developed and how to overcome some of the obstacles we have when trying to build our self-confidence.
This video is also great to share with youth who are looking for short and long term fixes for boosting self-esteem, which can seem like a daunting task at times. Something as simple as the type of music we listen to can affect how confident we feel!