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Self-Esteem Activities for Kids

Self-Esteem Activities for Kids

Self-esteem activities for kids are a must-have for every classroom’s curriculum and routine.


Self-esteem is a determining factor in life.  A healthy self-esteem translates into thriving, flourishing students that grow into happy, successful adults.  Having a healthy self-esteem has been linked to success at school in several studies.  In addition a great self-esteem transfers into positive behaviors such as exhibiting independence, the ability to assume responsibility, willingness to try new things, the ability to manage positive and negative emotions, and having the initiative to offer help to others.

Self-Esteem in Childhood Development

Naturally children go through ups and downs in their self-esteem as they grow.  This is important for educators to know, especially if they are classroom teachers of a specific grade in one of the critical self-esteem stages for children.  Young children’s self-esteem is usually quite high and unrealistic.  That’s why 3 and 4 year olds actually believe they are Superman when they put the red cape on, or that they are truly flying when on the swings.  They have a fantastical sense of themselves, thinking it’s wonderful the way they jump so high, have a tummy so big and are so smart.

Once children start to realize this isn’t quite reality (usually around 6-8), they experience a drop in their self-esteem.  They come to realize that they actually aren’t princesses and superheroes and that reality presents them with many challenges they may not be able to overcome with fairy dust.  It is at this stage that tremendous work in self-esteem is necessary to support and encourage children to have faith in themselves and their abilities.  For this reason, self-esteem activities for kids in the lower elementary grades are one of the key areas for teachers to focus on.

Between the ages of 10-12, children’s self-esteem has usually starts to improve, recovering from the slump of ages 6-10.  It is also around this age that children begin to understand the power their self-esteem has to help them succeed.  They also begin to realize that their self-esteem influences how others see them.

Self-Esteem Vs. Self-Image

It is possible to have a positive self-esteem and a negative self-image.  A negative or destructive self-image stemming from friendships and classmates that support this negativity may be accompanied by a strong self-esteem notes Baruti Kafele.  The goal is for students to achieve a healthy self-esteem and positive self-image.  Kafele encourages teachers to inspire students to feel good about themselves through motivating talks and using praise.  Other self-esteem activities for kids can help improve both self-esteem and self-image, creating a brighter future for your students.

Make Self-Esteem Activities Part of Your Classroom!

There are a lot of ideas out there for self-esteem activities for kids.  If you’re concerned about meeting requirements in your classroom, they can easily be linked to all areas of your curriculum and can be slipped in there to meet standards in almost any subject area, so don’t worry.  Take a look at the great self-esteem activities for kids listed below to give your students a boost:


Use Descriptive Praise

Perhaps one of the most popular and practical ways to improve self-esteem is by using descriptive praise.  Now this doesn’t mean you should slather on the praise for anything and everything.  This carefully placed encouragement helps students identify what they do well and notice when they’re doing it.

Descriptive praise differs from other praise. For example: you notice a child concentrated hard while completing an assignment about dinosaurs.  He made a poster with detailed drawings and diagrams.  You could say “Great job!” Or, you could be descriptive with your praise and say “I noticed how you concentrated while working on your project.  I love how you took your time and made such detailed drawings.” This focuses on the child’s actions and the results rather than a teacher’s opinion.  This is important as it helps the child understand that their actions have consequences.  This also helps them learn to find approval from within rather than waiting for arbitrary outside opinions to validate their efforts.

Baruti Kafele and Marcus Jackson are great proponents of this sort of praise and making use of your role as the teacher in the classroom.  Read about them by clicking the links on their names.

Make Super Star Posters

This is a more hands on self-esteem activity for kids.  Get a poster-sized page for each student and provide them with all kinds of art supplies.  You could also include photos of the students.  Then ask them to make a poster of themselves as if they were a movie star or super hero.  Ask them to write their best qualities on the poster as well.

A variation on this idea is to make a shield displaying their best abilities and most positive thoughts about themselves.  They can then use this shield as a barrier between themselves and negative thoughts, words or feelings.

Learn About Each Other

Self-esteem stems from positive self-reflection and appreciating one’s uniqueness.  One way to do this is through surveys or “about me” pages.  Have students fill out questionnaires sharing everything from their favorite activities, ice cream flavor, sports, colors, animals, etc. Then compile these pages into a book for each student.  Allow students to share them with each other and learn about each other’s likes and dislikes, emphasizing that each one is special.

Get Moving

Exercise has been linked with higher self-esteems (Tremblay, Inman and Willms).  So, if you’re looking for a way to give your students a boost in self-esteem, make sure they have some time to be physically active.  Play games that encourage cooperation and downplay competition such as getting the whole class through a rope web or completing an obstacle course without anyone falling down.


Teach Practical Skills

My personal favorite self-esteem activity for kids: teaching practical skills. In my experience, this is also a favorite for many students.

When students achieve a new level of independence, they almost instantly feel better about themselves.  Practical skills such as cooking, sewing, woodworking, etc. provide students with a sense of accomplishment.  These skills provide hands-on results: a muffin, an embroidery piece or a pinewood derby car.  It’s easy for students to feel pride about producing something useful and learning a new skill.  This translates into confidence and an improved self-esteem.


Another great self-esteem activity for kids is volunteering.  Helping others improves student’s sense of worth, as they discover that they are valuable to others.  Arrange for your class to help younger students or sing songs at a nursing home.  Visit an animal shelter or serve meals at a soup kitchen.  Any of these are great ways for students to increase their sense of self-worth.

Self-esteem activities for kids are easy to implement and provide a world of benefit for students.  Make sure your include self-esteem activities in your curriculum and classroom routines to help your students become high achievers at school and in life.  What will you do for your students?


“Self-esteem: How to Help Children & Teens Develop a Positive Self-image” Child Development Institute. Web 2 Jan 2015

Pediatric Exercise Science.  “The Relationship Between Physical Activity, Self-Esteem and Academic Achievement in 12 Year Old Children.” Human Kinetics Publishers, Inc. 2000, 12 312-323 Web 2 Jan 2015

Steinberg, Laurence, Julie D. Elmen and Nina S. Mounts. “Authoritative Parenting, Psychosocial Maturity, and Academic Success among Adolescents” Child Development Vol. 60, No. 6 (Dec., 1989), pp. 1424-1436 Web 2 Jan 2015

NAMC. Montessori 6-12 Classroom Guide. 2006. Print.

Kafele, Baruti K. Motivating Black Males to Achieve in School and In Life. Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development, 2009. Print.

Chambers, Yanique.  “Activities That Boost Children’s Self-Esteem” Kiddie Matters. Web 2 Jan 2015

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photo credit: <a href=”″>The Work Bench</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>(license)</a>

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