Building Student's Self Esteem

Building Student's Self Esteem-6 tips for helping students to create and keep a positive self image. The last one is my favorite!
Self esteem is a fragile, fickle thing, especially in children. As teachers we want nothing more than to see our students develop their personalities in a safe environment where their egos can stay intact. Unfortunately kids can be cruel, and self esteem and egos can be easily damaged leading to much larger problems down the road.
While there is not a lot you can do to affect how students' interactions effect their egos, there is a whole lot that you can do to set students up with a positive self image and ego to cope with what their peers will throw at them. After all, a student that has self-confidence is better prepared to stand up for themselves, and for others, when the going gets tough.

Place Value on Being an Individual

Students need to know that their uniqueness is one of their biggest assets. There are no two people that are the same, and this should be celebrated. Whether it comes down to celebrating a student's culture, their interests, or their unique abilities build time into your schedule to allow students to share their individuality. 

I love to allow students time to be experts in their field. This lets students to really come into their own, and celebrate what they love the most. Their classmates see them in a new light when they share what they are passionate about. When a student is on the shyer side, invite their families or someone they admire to come help them. Special visitors that share the same interests as your student serve to build your student up even more in their peers' eyes which again works to build their self confidence. 

Set Goals for Building Skills

Many students' self confidence issues come from perceived inadequacies. A lot of the time these inadequacies are built up in the student's mind, and are not a hinderance to them or their learning. The self image with these inadequacies is enough to affect a student's self image detrimentally. 

Work with the student to set goals for working together towards their desires. This may be academic or not. One student that I worked with had a really hard time socially during recess. He and I worked together to set a goal for social interaction. His goal was to get students to play his favorite game at recess. We set smaller goals such as, asking at least two friends to play and working on how to ask them. In the end, the entire class played his game and repeatedly asked him to play again. His self image skyrocketed!

Building Student's Self Esteem-6 tips for helping students to create and keep a positive self image. The last one is my favorite! Build Relationships

I think it goes without saying that students with relationships with positive adult and peer role models have a higher self image. By taking the time to build relationships with your students you are front loading everything they need to see themselves in a more positive light. 

Also, by building items such as class meetings, cooperative learning structure, and implicit social skills education into your day, you are giving your students multiple instances for positive interaction with one another. 

If you have an attention seeking student that is having a bit more of a struggle with their self esteem, check out this post for 10 Ways to Give Attention Seeking Students Attention

Focus on the Moment

So many of our students get really down on themselves when they struggle and immediately start the self pity party worrying that they never get anything right. Break this cycle by focusing on the moment at hand, and not their past experiences. 

Small statements such as, "You have practiced this, and now you are ready." or "Now is your time to shine." can really help to give a student the little push they need to try their best and think more positively about themselves. 

This one goes hand in hand with modeling positive self talk with students. This skill can be tricky, but is so powerful. Show students how you build yourself up to complete a difficult task by speaking positively about yourself. Students can practice positive self talk by complimenting others and turning the compliments they receive into gambits that they can use when feeling down. 

Comparison is the Thief of Joy

Even as adults, we are constantly comparing ourselves to others. This needs to stop. Everyone is in a different and unique place at any given time. We do not need to worry about others, but instead focus on our own self growth. One of my favorite quotes is "Don't compare your beginning to someone else's middle." from John Acuff. 

I love to talk to students about how everyone is on a different journey in life, and you never know where another is, so why compare? You would never compare where you are in a book that you started today with someone who started a month ago, right?

Start a Portfolio of Accomplishments

Another way to celebrate students is to start a portfolio of accomplishments. There are a lot of ways to go about this, but my favorite is super easy and involves sticky notes! At the end, or beginning, of each day, each student gets a sticky note and they write one thing that they are proud of themselves for that day and turn it in. I keep a folder for each student and place their sticky note in their each day. Whenever a student is having a tough time, or just a blue day, I pull out that folder and they get to read all the notes they wrote about being proud of themselves. 

It is absolutely amazing to watch them light up as they remember everything they have accomplished. Sometimes students ask if they can put other items in their folders such as pictures, awards, or medals. I am always happy to see the items that my students are proud of. 

Wrapping it Up

Our students have so much working against them in life, that sometimes they need a little extra help. I like to be their personal cheerleader, however cheesy that may sound. So, lets band together to create a generation of students that celebrates their individuality as well as their hard work!

If you are looking for more ways to help students to build their self esteem I recommend checking out these books: (affiliate links)
Banish Your Self Esteem Thief
Esteem Builders
Self Esteem Games
The Kids Guide to Staying Awesome and In Control

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