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As children grow older, they encounter different changes and problems. Self-esteem in the middle childhood years may start to decrease for a number of reasons.
Your child may be dealing with peer pressure from their friends and other classmates, whether it is to try something new or to act a certain way. They may have friends who have formed cliques with others and left them out. Unfortunately, some children even find themselves dealing with bullying from others. All these issues impact your child's self-esteem.
They may question their self-worth or wonder what they have done wrong and why their peers do not like them. They beat themselves up emotionally and sometimes physically. What they need is something to make them feel proud and boost their self-esteem.
Try these activities, which you can work on together, to help your child improve their feelings of self-worth. They take a little time to complete, but they are worth it in the end.
For each exercise, make the specified lists and turn them into collages. Each collage uses the same basic materials and directions but the contents vary.
- Poster board
- Construction paper (colors or white)
- Washable markers
- Adhesive tape or glue
- Scissors or safety scissors
- Photos that represent the list your child is working on (optional).
1. After a list is completed, total up all the items. (Tip: number the lists to make it easier.) .
2. Cut out one large piece of construction paper for each item on the list. For example, if a list has ten things written down, you need ten pieces of paper. Make each one big enough to be seen on the poster board and allow enough room for all the pieces to fit. Plan enough space to include photos or other items.
3. Invite your child to write out an item from their list on the paper cut-outs and to list only one per paper. Include photos as visuals; these can come from the Internet, from magazines, or be printed out copies of family photos.
4. Attach the paper and photos to the poster board with glue or adhesive tape. This is a project you want your child to enjoy and take pride in, so let him or her place the paper and photos on the poster board in any order or design they want. If you decide to use glue instead of adhesive tape, give it plenty of time to dry.
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Recognizing Good Qualities and Talents
Everyone has good qualities, and everyone can do something. The key is to help your child recognize his or her good qualities and talents so encourage them to make a list of all of their good qualities. An sample list might look like this:
- I'm nice to others.
- I do well in school.
- I'm kind to animals.
- I'm a great listener.
- I like to help out in the community.
Next, invite them to list their talents. Here's an example:
- I'm good at sports.
- I can draw well.
- I am a good writer.
- I can ride a bike, scooter, rollerblades and so forth.
- I am good at photography.
Once your child has completed both lists, use the directions above to create a big collage.
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Next, encourage your child to create a list of his or her accomplishments, which can encompass anything from school related events to skills your child has been developing. Having a list of their successes reminds them of what they have done and what they can be proud of. Here's a sample list:
- I passed the last test or pop quiz in school.
- I finally learned how to rollerblade on my own.
- I finished a knitting project I have been working on.
- I got good grades on my last report card.
- I finally made a slam dunk in the basketball hoop outside.
Accomplishment lists should include work done with classes or clubs. Did your child complete a new painting in art class? Maybe he or she has earned a new badge in Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts. If they play sports such as baseball, maybe they got a home run during the last game. It does not matter how big or small the accomplishment is; include it on the list. Children like to see reminders of everything they have done as it helps them to feel a sense of pride when they feel discouraged.
After your child has completed his or her list, turn it a collage using the general instructions given previously.
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Understanding Real Value
As you help to boost your child's self-esteem, remind them of what they possess and love. This way when they are feeling down because someone has something they don't, they feel lucky about what they do have. Encourage them to create a list of their cherished possessions such as:
- I have a family who loves me.
- I have friends who care about me.
- I have pets I love to play with.
- I have a house to live in.
- I have good food to eat.
They could write a sentence about a favorite toy, CD, DVD, or another inanimate object on their list if they wish.
When your child is done, ask them if they would like to make another collage using their information.
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Now It's Your Turn
The last list needs to be completed by you. Sit down and write out a list of everything you love about your child. You see, sometimes people need to hear from other people just how wonderful they are. Children need this encouragement as much as adults do:
- I love how friendly you are towards others.
- I love how you are good with younger children.
- I love how loving you are with animals.
- I love how you always try your best in everything.
- I love how you light up the room with your smile.
This list should include only positive statements. Avoid saying something like "I love the way you are learning to rollerblade so well, but you still need a lot of practice". Turn it into a positive by writing "I love the way you are learning how to rollerblade so well". The point of this exercise is to boost your child's self-esteem rather than to make them feel bad or worse. Right now your child needs to hear how much you love them and why you think they are so special.
Once your list is completed, use it to create a collage to give to your child.
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After creating these collages to raise self-esteem in the middle childhood years, hang them where your child can see them easily. This includes the living room, the family room, the kitchen or his or her bedroom. Whenever your child feels, remind him or her to look at the collages and remember how great they are and how much they have accomplished. Do you have more than one child? Create lists and collages for each one. With the help of these exercises, a little patience and a lot of love, helping your children to feel good about themselves is an achievable goal.
- Image: Author's own creation
- Forward Counselling Advice Service, http://www.forwardcounselling.com/preview.php?topicID=9
- Author's life experience as an aunt and from working with children
- Author unknown, "The Story on Self-Esteem," Kids Health, http://kidshealth.org/kid/feeling/emotion/self_esteem.html
- Author unknown, "Self-esteem activities for children," Self-Esteem 2 Go, http://www.selfesteem2go.com/self-esteem-activities-for-children.html