The Unpopular Truth About Building Selfesteem In Children AndTeens

At our live workshops, we often get requests for interventions that can enhance self-worth-- and we do have many creative methods for all age levels. However, at class, we always offer a cautionary note: If a child hears at home that they are no good, or the child is called racist names, or is physically assaulted in the community, there is no strategy that can speak louder than that fist, that racist name, or that put-down from home. So, the best time to use self-esteem builders is when the child is no longer being put down at home, called bad names, etc. It may not be a popular perspective, but it is probably correct: When children are currently facing events that generate low self-esteem, that is a normal reaction to the abuse they encounter. Your initial focus should not necessarily be to counter that reasonable reaction, but instead to help the child avoid, manage or process the abusive events. For children who no longer face the verbal assaults or physical abuse, or whatever caused their feelings of low worth, that is the population for whom these interventions offer special value.

Remember though, that self-esteem doesn't strike randomly, but generally is caused by the specific events the child has faced or is facing now. You must address those events and not just skim over them. With that in mind, when the time is right, here are some fun strategies that can help build esteem: Esteem Magazine: Have your students put themselves on the cover of "Esteem Magazine: For Students Who Know That Esteem is More Than Just Hot Air.

" Have your youngsters fill the magazine with the items created via some of the next interventions (offered below), so that students create a publication that captures many of their positive qualities. Picture Us Using a digital or instant camera, have a student snap pictures of your class members. List on the board qualities such as "good leader," "reliable," "kind to others" and "always willing to help." Have students sort the pictures to fit the categories using removable adhesive to secure the photos to the board. Have plenty of categories so each picture can be placed.

Afterward, students can be given their photos with the correct category noted below the picture. An award ribbon can be added. Caught Doing Good Make award ribbons (that can attach to clothing with a pin) and are imprinted: "Caught Doing Good." Award these periodically to class members as the individual student's behavior warrants it. This is a great intervention for youth who are "always in trouble" and consequently feel bad about themselves.

Happy New School Year This activity works best at the start of the school year, or it also works well in January. Sometimes students feel bad about themselves because they are failing at tasks at your school or agency. Have students make "Happy New School Year" resolutions, which can be placed into balloons and released into the sky (and later recovered.) Work with each class member to develop a plan to succeed at their resolutions. You can even have a "Happy New School Year" party, which can make it harder to be so completely sour and negative about your site.

Everybody Know Somebody Who Doesn't Like Them Sometimes Some students believe that everyone should like them. Especially during middle school, chances are that most students will be aware that other youngsters do not seem to like them. That can be hard on esteem. Teach students that about a third of the kids will like them, a third won't like them, a third don't care, and if you feel those numbers are similar to what you experience, you're doing just fine.

Students can make illustrations that clarify what each third looks like. Before and After Have students make "Before" and "After" pictures of themselves, similar to the ads for weight loss companies that show the person before and after they lost weight. This activity can help discouraged youngsters better imagine good outcomes. The ads can focus on any area from earning better grades, to improving hygiene to having more friends. Picture This Have students cut up magazines and affix pictures to the outside of a paper grocery bag.

The pictures should show the student's good qualities. The bags should show the student's name and photograph, and can be titled: Picture the Good Things About Me. A follow-up: students can write positive comments about their peers and place the comments into the bags so that the bags are filled with positive feedback. Everyone Makes Mistooks Perfectionist students can quickly feel awful about themselves when they aren't perfect, when they make mistakes. To alleviate the anger they may feel towards themselves for missing a question on a quiz, or misspelling a word in a major spelling bee, help the students to discover that "everyone makes mistooks.

" You first make a mistook by tripping, for example. Challenge your perfectionistic students to make "mistooks" such as dropping their pencils, for example. Your goal is to reduce the sting and intensity of making everyday errors. Perfectly Imperfect To further show perfectionistic students that everyone makes mistakes, teach your class that no one is perfect, that sooner or later everyone mispronounces a word or drops the ball in a game, for example. Teach your students that they can't be perfect, but they can be "perfectly imperfect.

" The more you reduce the anger and shame of making mistakes, that some perfectionistic students experience, the less their self- esteem will rise and fall based on performance. It is not healthy to have one's esteem based on external factors that none of us can completely control. Want more ways to work successfully with children with low self-esteem? Consider coming to one of my live Breakthrough Strategies classes ( ve.

html), or order the course on DVD/video ( pe.html). Some of the methods in this article came from my "Learning to Like the Kid in the Mirror" book.

View information on this book at /lessons.

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By: Ruth Wells

Post Secondary Education

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