24 TIPS to help kids build confidence
+ 15 Self-Esteem ACTIVITIES / GAMES for kids and teens
There are lots of easy ways for parents and educators to help children boost their confidence. There are also plenty of self-esteem activities for kids and teens that are fun and engaging.
Building positive self-esteem and confidence is important to the child and teen development. It helps them become more emotionally resilient and cope better with stress and life challenges. But, how can we build confidence in our kids?
Self-esteem activities for kids can help us with this task. But, in order to identify the best way to help your child/teen (or student), it is important first to understand what self-esteem is.
Table of Contents:
- Self-concept and self-esteem definitions
- Exploring self-esteem
- 24 Tips on how to build confidence in kids
- 15 SELF-ESTEEM ACTIVITIES for kids and teens
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Self-concept and self-esteem definitions
Self-concept and self-esteem are two closely related concepts. Self-concept is the representation we construct of ourselves, after assessing our competence in different areas in our lives (interpersonal, sports, work, etc.). In simple words, self-concept is what we think about ourselves
Self-esteem develops in parallel to self-concept. Self-esteem is the evaluation we make of ourselves, and it can range from low to high self-esteem (“I´m worthless” – “I´m worthy”). Self-esteem is how we feel about ourselves and our personal characteristics. It is greatly influenced by the evaluation we make of the different aspects that comprise our self-concept.
Exploring self-esteem in kids & teens
In order to understand a bit better this abstract concept, I will delve into Susan Harter´s extensive research on self-esteem. Harter has developed widely-used self-perception scales for children and adolescents. In her work, she identifies two coexisting categories of self-evaluation:
- global self-worth (overall self-esteem)
- domain-specific evaluation in different areas (for example, schoolwork performance)
The self-concept domains that Harter´s self-perception scales for children explore are specifically:
- scholastic competence (e.g. doing well at school work, finishing schoolwork quickly)
- social competence (e.g. knowing how to make friends, knowing what to do to be accepted by others)
- athletic competence (e.g. ability to do well at sports)
- physical appearance (e.g. being happy with one´s looks)
- behavioral conduct (e.g. degree to which a kid likes the way he/she behaves, avoids getting into trouble)
As kids grow older and become adolescents, new relevant domains of self-evaluation need to be considered:
- friendship (which is different from social competence – this would be the ability to make close friends)
- romantic appeal (e.g. finding that they are interesting and fun on a date)
- job competence (this one is very dependent on the social environment -while lots of teenagers do part-time jobs in US, it is not the case for other countries)
Are all these domains equally important for my kid’s self-esteem? Which specific self-concept domains contribute more to one’s overall sense of global self-worth?
Our kid’s overall self-esteem doesn´t come from just adding the level of performance in each of the self-concept domains. There is an overall evaluation of how much they like themselves as a person. Each domain of their self-concept contributes in a different way.
High competence in a domain highly regarded by a teen (for example, physical appearance) will be a good predictor of high self-esteem. High competence in an area that teen does not consider important will have less impact.
Related reading: The Construction of the Self: Developmental and Sociocultural Foundations, by Susan Harter
24 Tips on How to Build Your Child’s Confidence
These are some ideas and advice on how to help your children build confidence and self-esteem:
Make them feel good and valued:
1. Provide them with opportunities to feel good and happy, surrounded by people with whom they feel safe and happy.
2. Tell them you always love them (even when you don´t like what they do).
3. Show interest in the topics and activities that interest them.
4. Ask for their views on different topics (TV series, new decoration for a room) which will show them their opinion is important
5. Nurture and support their interests.
6. Spend “special time” with each of your children. They will have your undivided attention during that time, and will not have to compete with their siblings for attention. It will also show them how special they are.
7. When you need to address your children’s behavior, never label them. Focus on the behavior and not your child. Say “what you did wasn’t ok” instead of “you were bad”.
Make them feel competent
8. Provide them with opportunities to experience success. Don´t do everything for them. If they need help, provide it, but let them finish things on their own
9. Regularly praise their achievements, effort and progress
10. Teach them a new skill.
11. Enroll them in a new activity that will expand their set of skills (and interest them).
12. Let them show you how something works (like a new app, a computer program they use at school).
Foster their Independence
13. Assign them their own age-appropriate responsibilities (or activities appropriate to their developmental stage). As a special needs parent, we try to provide opportunities aligned with our child´s capabilities.
14. Provide them with opportunities to make choices on some activities.
Let them know how the real world works so that they don´t have unrealistic expectations and build resilience
15. Let them know about people´s reality. Help them understand that everybody has happy and unhappy times, achievements and failures.
16. Emphasize how we all have strengths and weaknesses.
17. Share your mistakes, and model positive responses to them.
18. Help them understand how we learn from mistakes. When something doesn´t work the way they expected, discuss with them how they could have done it differently and what they learned from the experience.
19. Teach them how hard work helps us achieve our objectives.
Teach Social Skills
It may be interesting to help your child improve a range of social skills, for example:
20. How to request somebody to stop a behavior (Assertiveness)
21. Problem-solving in social situations.
22. Conversational skills.
Work on the cognitive dimension of self-esteem
23. Help them reframe negative thinking that may lead to low self-esteem.
Teach them skills that will make them more “academically competent”
24. Teach them study techniques (time management, setting priorities, making a summary, looking for key ideas in a text)
15+ Self-Esteem Activities & Games for Kids and Teens
This is a “work-in-progress” list with some self-esteem activities for kids and teens. I will keep adding new activities and ideas as we work through them at home.
a) Fun Self-Esteem Games / Social Skills Games
The role of play in human development has been well documented by research. Games with rules (starting around the age of 6 or 7) are very important for their social development as they require: cooperation, following rules, competing, thinking about the other’s point of view and anticipating other people´s actions.
So, if kids learn through play, one of the best learning methods when we are teaching them new skills could be GAMES.
These are some fun games to help boost self-esteem. I´ve also included social skills games because improving their social skills will have a positive effect on their self-esteem and confidence.
Why I like it:
It helps kids and teens:
- Discover their strengths and qualities through other people’s eyes
- Learn how to express gratitude
- Enjoy bonding opportunites
- Understand each other
- Become comfortable with praise and positive comments
- Share their feeling about other people
- Connect with family and friends.
It is meant for kids aged 8 and older, but those a bit younger may still enjoy receiving praise and compliments from others.
This game consists of a series of questions connecting personal, emotional and social strengths of each player.
Players take turns with question cards, as they simultaneously cooperate to plan and build a strong and sturdy tower
There are three types of cards in the game:
- Blue cards for enhancing personal development (e.g. What am I good at? What is my favorite story?)
- Red cards for strengthening emotional intelligence (e.g. What makes me feel hopeful? When do I feel patient?)
- Yellow cards for boosting social skills (e.g. What would I want to learn from others? Something kind that I did for a friend was)
Why I like:
- It’s a great conversation started, that provides opportunities to talk about emotions in a fun and stress-free environment
- It encourages positive thinking
- It develops a range of important skills:
- identifying positive traits
- conversation skills
- managing frustration
- fine motor skills
- It is fun to play!
The next two games were designed for therapists, counselors and educators:
- open up and talk about themselves in groups
- start conversations that encourage them to reflect on their existing strengths and weaknesses.
Great for counselors, therapists, teachers, and families.
- Therapy Game to Develop Awareness of Thoughts, Emotions, and Behaviors: Improving Social Skills, Coping Skills and Enhancing Self-Control
- supports and facilitates treatment for children and adolescents
- addresses various emotions, physical sensations, thoughts, cognitive traps and behaviors.
- it is designed specifically to improve social skills, emotional regulation, self-control and self-resilience in children and adolescents.
Playing CBT is a therapy game designed for use in individual therapy and group sessions by therapists, counselors and educators.
b) Some Feel Good / Positive Self-Esteem Activities for Kids
- Write a gratitude journal- it will focus your kid´s attention on all the positive things in his/her life.
This journal is absolutely gorgeous and it helps kids discover:
- how to believe in themselves
- how to face challenges with confidence
- that mistakes are opportunities to grow
- they they can achieve anything when they’re persistent
Related reading: Benefits of Journaling for Kids
- Make time for growth mindset conversation:
You can share thoughtful discussions about growth mindset, kindness, resilience, gratitude, and more with these gorgeous cards.
- Set up an achievement wall- frame happy moments pictures and the achievements that make them proud (this option looks gorgeous, I wouldn’t mind converting it into a wall of achievements)
- Prepare a photo book of their passions, interests, and people
- Prepare a “Wall of Achievements”. It is similar to the previous one, but a notice board allows you to have their achievements and their happy memory on display.
If you wish to explore this option you can check this post:
How to “Kids’ Art Wall Ideas that Develop Coping Skills & Fight Anxiety”
- Practice positive affirmations ⇐ the post I link to here will teach you ALL you need to know about positive affirmations. It shares benefits, situations when they may backfire, tips for beginners (adults, kids and kids struggling with anxiety) and a list of positive self-statements to download.
- Keep a diary of achievements
- Set goals and make a plan to achieve them
Books About Self-Esteem Activities for Kids
- 104 Activities That Build: Self-Esteem, Teamwork, Communication, Anger Management, Self-Discovery, Coping Skills
- The Self-Esteem Workbook for Teens: Activities to Help You Build Confidence and Achieve Your Goals
- Social Skills for Kids: Over 75 Fun Games & Activities for Building Better Relationships, Problem Solving & Improving Communication
Independence Activities for Confidence Building
- Be responsible for your own house chores (we always talk about age-appropriate activities, but I would rather talk about developmentally appropriate chores, as I´m a special needs Mom and it always depresses me to read how many “age-appropriate” chores we don’t yet achieve):
- Pack your school backpack
- Prepare your lunch box
- Prepare your own little travel suitcase
- Walk the dog
- Run errands
- Traffic Light Worksheet – this is a tool we use to help self-regulation, providing kids with simple problem-solving tips (red light: identify the problem I want to solve, yellow light: generate potential solutions, green light: choose and implement)
You may also find these Coping Skills Activities helpful:
- 17 Anger Management Activities for Kids
- Anger Games: Super Fun Ways to Develop Coping Skills
- How to Help a Child with Anxiety: ACTIVITIES & Tips
- Affirmations for Kids: Powerful Tool for Self-Esteem & Positive Mindset
Fun Self-Esteem Activities for Kids & Teens: How to Build Confidence in Kids