Eleanor Roosevelt made a very powerful case for self esteem when she sent out this message to the world:
“Remember always that you not only have the right to be an individual, you have an obligation to be one.”
The concept of self-esteem traces its origin to the 18th century period of enlightenment and more specifically, in the writings of Scottish thinker David Hume. He believes that it is of utmost importance to value and think of oneself in a positive light because it serves as a motivational function that enables people to explore their full potential.
Importance of Self Esteem
The Postmodern world today will live in has a tendency to thrive on insecurities and self-doubt that as adults we may unwittingly transmit to young and impressionable minds around us.
It is thus important for us to ensure that kids and students at the development stage of their being, both physiologically and psychologically are allowed to channelize their untapped reservoir of energy in a manner that builds on to their self-esteem and confidence levels.
It is also imperative to understand that we cannot burden the child’s mind with complex notions of self-esteem and self-worth at such a tender age. Thus, the ideas have to be transmitted to them in a manner that allows them to unconsciously ingrain these ideas while simultaneously enjoying the process.
Developing a positive sense of self in our children will go a long way in developing a sense of agency in them, so that they may choose to tackle headlong the challenges that life inevitably tends to throw along, rather than being passive participants to it.
Here are a few games and activities that you can encourage young children and students to undertake to boost their self-esteem and confidence levels and at the same time develop a learning curve, with a little bit of cooperation from your side.
List of Games and Activities for Improving Self-Esteem
1. ‘I am’ Activity
The first step in the direction will of course be to find out whether your child has a sense of self-worth or is overtly critical of his\her own self.
Your arsenal for this activity will include a big chart paper, a cutout photograph of your child, a few sketch pens or sparkling pens, glue, and colorful adjectives cut out from newspaper\magazines.
- First, ask the child to describe himself\herself in words and make a list of it on a piece of paper. These can be both praise words and negative words.
- Then take the chart paper and glue the picture of your child in the centre. Ask the child to decorate the chart paper with only good words about themselves with either the cut out adjectives or sparkling pen.
- Place the chart paper in their room any place where they can catch regular sight of it, to reinforce their positive belief in self.
This activity will first assess the way your child perceives himself\herself. The second step on the other hand will try to increase their confidence by continuously drawing attention to their positive attributes in a visual manner.
2. Mother- Child Self Esteem Activity
Children feel more confident and tend to develop a positive self-image if they feel that people around them, especially their parents view them in a favorable manner. They also nurture their self-esteem better if they believe that their parents have their back.
Thus a little mother child bonding activity can go a long way in ensuring the evolution of a child as confident individual, ready to take on the world.
Of course, parenting is a gender-neutral term, and the mother in the following reference can be replaced by a single parent of any gender.
- You will be requiring 4 drawing sheets and a few color pens.
- The child will get two drawing sheets with ‘ME’ and ‘My Mom’ stenciled in bold letters.
- The mother will also receive two drawing sheets titles ‘ME’ and ‘My boy\My Girl’ as the case may be.
- Both of you will be required to write positive qualities about yourself and the other person.
- You can then exchange the drawing sheets or read out the compliments to each other.
These will not only help the child get an understanding of the positive qualities in them, but also experience the pride his\her parent feels in them. This will in turn cement the positive attributes in them as they will be likely to view praise as a positive reinforcement.
3. Catch the Compliment
This is a group game that can be played better with more participants. All you require for it is a ball and a playing or seating area.
- All the participants sit around in a circle.
- A ball is randomly thrown around for others to catch.
- However catches the ball will receive a compliment or word of praise from the thrower of the ball.
This game thus helps develop not only individual self-worth but general goodwill among the participants as well as a sense of communal camaraderie.
As Erich Fromm rightly points out, “Love of others and love of our selves are not alternatives. On the contrary, an attitude of love towards themselves will be found in all those who are capable of loving others.”
4. Fun storytelling games
Child experts believe that storytelling not only builds the child’s verbal and vocabulary skills but also goes a long way in building on the child’s interests outside the immediate area of context. This in turn increases the confidence of the child which translates into a higher self-esteem.
- It is better as a group activity where children can come together on a couch or in a picnic in an outdoor surrounding, or wherever they prefer.
- One of them starts the story with a few beginning sentences.
- Then each one of the students adds to the story as they go around in circle.
This is the easiest form of the story telling game. One can also purchase fun structured story telling games online.
This game has an added advantage of unleashing the creative potential of the children which not only enhances their intellectual potential, but also social skills.
5. The Tower of Self-Esteem (Therapy Card Game)
There are few games available in the markets that are professionally designed by child counselors and therapists. One of the most popular among them is the ‘Tower of Self Esteem’.
- The main objective of the game is to build a strong and sturdy tower, metaphorically denoting the child’s self esteem.
- The process of the game calls for the participants answering the question cards and at the same time cooperating in building the tower.
- There are three kinds of cards that move the game forward.
- The Blue Card is for enhancing personal development by answering questions like ‘What are my positive qualities?’ or ‘Which is my favorite book?’
- The Red Card is for strengthening emotional intelligence with queries like-‘what makes me feel good myself? ’Or “when do I feel patient?’
- The Yellow card is for boosting social skills by pondering on-‘What did I do to help a friend?’ or ‘what do I like in other?’
This is an excellent game for a variety of reasons. Not only it improves the motor skills of the children but also, is a great way to start conversations and let the children express their emotions, in a fun filled manner.
6. Totem: The feel good game
Totem is another popular game that uses game methodology to ensure the personal development of confidence and self-esteem among players.
- In this game, players reveal each other’s strengths and qualities by forming totems.
- These totems are a combination of an animal card, which represents strength and a quality card.
- Each player contributes one animal card and one quality card to each other player’s totem.
- The favorite animal and quality card remains in front of each active player after completion of each round .They become the active player’s totem.
- The game ends when everyone gets their totem.
The game does have a superficial winner who is able to throw in the most relevant cards and get higher scores. However, each one of the participant emerges victorious with a better understanding of how everyone perceives and appreciates them.
There are other structured games available online to boost self esteem of children on similar lines, like, ‘You Know Social Skills Game’, among others.
Another activity that has been credited by child counselors as extremely effective in improving a child’s self esteem is the visualization technique.
- The process starts with asking the child the activities or situations they are most afraid of. For example, getting low grades in school or failing in an extracurricular activity.
- This is followed by asking the child to write an ideal scenario with respect to the specific situation.
- You then ask the child to close his\her eyes and visualize this entire scenario.
- Then the child is asked to write down how they felt after imagining the ideal scenario and their thoughts about themselves in this ideal situation.
Visualizing the ideal scenario thus makes it look more achievable to the child and hence increases their confidence by boosting their self worth.
Abraham Maslow has explicitly stated that psychological health is not possible unless the essential core of the individual is fundamentally accepted and respected, not only by others but the individual themselves.
He further states that self esteem allows people to face life with more confidence, benevolence and optimism, and thus achieve their goals.
The path to self actualization thus starts with self esteem. Inculcating this self esteem in young children when they have not been set in their mold with the burning heat of half baked experiences life throws at them is the best way to ensure their blossoming into well rounded, confident individuals.
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