The word self-esteem comes from “self” and “esteem” which refers to a person’s opinion of themselves. High self-esteem positively influences the way people relate to themselves and others. Taking care of oneself is fundamental in developing effective and lasting social relationships. Apart from this, people who have a higher level of self-esteem have a greater ability to connect with new people and receive greater personal satisfaction. When children have a high level of self-esteem:
- They are able to achieve what they set out to do
- They value themselves
- They possess the tools they need to succeed personally and professionally
- They understand the great potential they have
- They can better communicate with and relate to other people
- They take ownership of their feelings and therefore, their emotions
Self-esteem begins to take shape in the first years of life. When a baby is born it begins to seek interaction with its parents. From that moment on, a reciprocal attachment relationship begins to form and the child starts to feel confident and valued. In early years, especially during preschool, children are already able to identify their social and academic abilities.
From age 6 onward, acceptance by their peers begins to become very important, so it is essential to monitor the relationships they develop with other children. They develop their personal value based on the opinion that is created around these relationships.
Between the ages of 7 and 8, the education received at home significantly impacts the shaping of a child’s self-esteem, although there are other factors that influence it as well such as relationships with peers and teachers and the environments in which the child plays an active role.
How to Instill Self-Esteem at School
It is a school’s task to teach children that loving others is as necessary as learning to love oneself. Working with them on self-knowledge so that they know what their strengths and weaknesses are can enhance children’s positive attributes and improve their weaker ones. This means that the work of teachers should not be based only on the transmission of knowledge, but on a mission to prepare students to face the world they are going to live in.
The attitude of teachers in this process is critical, so we encourage you to:
- Listen attentively to the needs of your students.
- Empathize with them, validating their emotions and feelings.
- Encourage the activities they enjoy
- Give them more flexibility so that they can freely choose the activities they want to do.
- Be an example for them and help them overcome the obstacles they encounter along the way.
In the end, children who have higher self-esteem show greater enthusiasm for living life, relating to others, and excelling in all aspects of their lives.
Activities to Improve Self-Esteem in the Classroom
Here are some activities to improve self-esteem in the classroom:
- Hidden Treasure Box: The teacher hides a mirror in a box and tells the students that there is a hidden treasure inside, creating high expectations. Each student has a look inside to find out what it contains, but without revealing anything to the others. Finally, the teacher asks them to reveal the treasure they have discovered and asks them about the qualities that they believe make them unique and special.
- Positive Glasses. The students pretend to put on imaginary glasses that only allow them to see the positive aspects of their classmates. Each student takes a piece of paper with their name on it and sticks it to their back. Then, others come and write positive things about that child on the paper. At the end, everyone can share their impressions in a group discussion. This is an excellent way to build a child’s confidence through peer and teacher acknowledgement.
- Write a Letter: Each student has to write three strengths and three weaknesses that they believe they have on a piece of paper, which they then put in an envelope. This envelope will be passed around to each of their classmates so that they can add more strengths that person has. Each student will read all the positive things that others think of them. The objective is to show that we are all different and that in the same way we have weaknesses, we also have many strengths that others value.
- Videos: In Smile and Learn we have a great variety of videos about emotions that can help little ones to identify and explore their feelings. In addition to these videos, you can find other useful games that you can use in the classroom. This type of content is very relevant and necessary for students’ emotional development and will ultimately help them to be more aware of themselves and have better self-esteem.
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