Whether you’re learning how to play baseball for the first time, making new friends, or standing up for yourself, feeling strong and confident about yourself can make all the difference. One way to talk about this feeling is self-esteem—a term that encompasses how we feel about ourselves and our value in the world.1
Our self-esteem is often informed by our ability to take on challenges and learn from our mistakes. Self-esteem is also highly influenced by how we’re treated by our parents during childhood.
So, why is self-esteem so important? Self-esteem has far-reaching impacts on all areas of life. A child's self-esteem correlates with their future school performance, relationship quality, and ability to resist peer pressure.2
If you’re wondering how to help your child cultivate a healthy sense of self-esteem, you’re in the right place. Below, we outline eight simple self-esteem activities for kids.
#1 Let Them Choose a Weekly Chore
While older kids may see chores as a bore, young children are often eager to help out around the house.3 Completing a chore consistently can bestow them with a sense of purpose and capability, increasing their self-esteem as time goes on.
To make this activity more enticing, allow your child to choose from a list of age-appropriate household chores for kids. Some examples may include:
- Watering the house plants
- Packing their lunchbox
- Putting toys back in the toy box
- Cleaning the cabinets
- Feeding the family pet
- Bringing their laundry into their room
- Sweeping the floor
After your little one has chosen their favorite chore, show them how to do it and let them take over. Once they’re done, make sure to express your appreciation.
You can also highlight how their contributions make a real difference in the home. For example, you can compliment their plant-watering skills and point out how beautiful the flowers look due to their care. Additionally, make sure to ask your children how they feel about completing these types of chores. This allows your child to acknowledge and reflect on their own progress, and feel proud of what they have done to support your household.
#2 Have Them Pack Their Own Suitcase
Another fun activity is to let your child pack their suitcase the next time you have a vacation on the books. Give them a chance to brainstorm what types of clothes and toys they’ll need based on your final destination and itinerary.
Once their suitcase is packed, you can look it over. Chances are, there may be some items missing—for example, maybe your child forgot to pack their swimsuit or swimming goggles. But rather than identifying their suitcase shortfalls, simply ask them if they can think of anything they might need for a visit to the swimming pool. By doing so, you can give them even more chances to put their problem-solving skills to the test.
Lastly, make sure to celebrate their excellent work. You can even share the fact that your preschooler packed their own bag with the attendants at the airport or the bellman at the hotel. Receiving this positive feedback can instill confidence in your child so they’re even more empowered to tackle new challenges going forward.
#3 Make a “What I’m Proud of” List
Self-esteem is all about recognizing what you’re skilled at and feeling good about who you are.1 You can facilitate this experience for your little ones by asking them to write out a list of what they’re proud of. Make sure to validate their responses and let them know that you’re proud of them for those reasons, too.
After your child has shared their list, let them know what you find most special about them. Some possibilities may include their:
- Kind interactions with new friends
- Creative drawings
- Big imagination
- Silly sense of humor
- Warm hugs and kisses
- Bravery when trying new things
Once you two have collaborated on your list, you can place it somewhere special in your home and add to it periodically. You may consider adding a positive affirmation or two to this list as a reminder for your child of ways to feel more self-confident through language.
#4 Create an Achievement Wall in Your Home
Writing a list can be a lovely bonding experience, but your child may prefer something a little more visual. In that case, you can set up an achievement wall in your home. Consider letting your child pick and choose what progress or accomplishments they’d like to highlight on the wall. By doing so, you can discover what makes your children most proud of themselves and encourage them to grow in those areas.
An achievement wall can be a wonderful place to post your child’s artwork from school, awards, and positive teacher feedback. You can also add mementos that remind your child of non-school-related accomplishments, such as making a new friend, helping grandma bring in her groceries, or suggesting a creative idea for a family outing. Creating an achievement wall can serve as a great confidence building activity because it allows your child to track their progress.
When you show your child that you’re proud of them for all of the ways they’re growing and learning, they can use that positive feedback to inform their self-esteem. Additionally, this type of acknowledgment may spark conversations about what makes them proud of themselves, adding to their overall self confidence.
#5 Have a Family Spotlight Session During Meal Times
Feeling seen and heard helps children gain positive self-esteem.1 On the flip side, being ignored or dismissed can have the opposite effect.
One way to let your children know their thoughts, feelings, and interests matter is to have a daily mealtime discussion about each child. Make it a special “spotlight session” where your child can enjoy everyone’s undivided attention.
During this time, they can participate by:
- Sharing about their day
- Discussing their plans for tomorrow
- Highlighting any special interests they’ve developed recently.
When your child starts chatting about their newfound love for chalk drawings or gushes about their new teacher, make sure to listen attentively and engage lovingly. Doing so can help show them that their feelings matter and that they’re a person of value. If they notice you listening and engaging within the conversation, they may pick up and adapt these same social skills, both of which are critical to their early childhood social emotional learning development.
#6 Use Visualization to Transform Challenges Into Best-Case Scenarios
If your child is dealing with some insecurities or fears, you can help them overcome them through a relaxing visualization exercise.4
Here’s how it works:
- When your child expresses insecurity, concern, or fear about something, take them to a calm space or comfort corner in your home.
- Ask them to explain the situation they’re worried about.
- Prompt them to close their eyes and imagine the best-case scenario.
- Ask them to describe how they would feel after this best-case scenario takes place.
This simple exercise can help your child see themselves as someone capable of overcoming their current challenges, encourage more positive thinking, and prompt them to practice positive affirmations. It may also help them turn around any negative self-talk that’s been impeding their self-esteem.
#7 Get Creative in the Kitchen
Cooking with your child can boost their self-esteem by helping them learn new skills, follow instructions, and reframe mistakes as valuable learning lessons.5 Not to mention, cooking together can be a memorable bonding experience.
While this can be an excellent activity for kids of any age, it’s one of the most fun self-esteem activities for preschoolers.
Here’s how to start cooking together:
- To start, ask your child what recipe they would enjoy making.
- After that, collaborate with them on the execution. The more you can let them do themselves, the better.
- If they spill a little milk or crack an egg, don’t make a big deal about it. Instead, let your children use these mishaps as problem-solving opportunities.
- Once you finish your fabulous recipe, you can let your child set the table and share their creation with another family member or friend.
Creating opportunities for your child to tackle challenges like cooking on their own can do wonders for their confidence and teach them that mistakes are a normal part of life and it’s how you overcome them that matters most.
As they share their creations, ask them to explain the steps it took to bring their special recipe into reality. Once your child proudly describes their process, you can tell them what a wonderful job they did in the kitchen.
#8 Play the “What I Love About You” Game
“What I Love About You” is a simple game that’s sure to put a smile on your child’s face. It can be played with other family members or a group of your child’s friends or classmates.
Here’s how this game works:
- Ask all of the participants to sit in a circle.
- Hand out small pieces of paper and pens to everyone.
- Prompt each person to write (or draw) something that expresses what they love about the person on either side of them.
- Ask each person to read their compliments out loud.
When your child hears how much they’re valued by the people in their lives, it can help them develop a greater appreciation for their unique traits and bolster their self-esteem.1 It can also encourage them to embody more positive traits.
Support Your Child’s Self-Esteem with Slumberkins
As you can see, there’s plenty you can do to nurture a child’s self-esteem. Orchestrating opportunities for them to try new things, overcome mistakes, and celebrate their successes can pave the way for confidence and emotional strength, even when something feels scary or tough. And knowing their strengths and limitations is one of the ways they learn how to practice self-acceptance, set realistic goals, and have stable mental health.
If you show them lots of love along the way, these self-love activities for kids can help your child develop healthy self-esteem as they grow. But don’t forget to work on your own self-esteem too. When you hold yourself in high regard, it’s easier to display a healthy sense of self-esteem to the children that look up to you as an example. Working on your self-esteem can also help you become an expert on parenting with confidence.
Do you want to learn more about raising emotionally healthy children? Or need more ideas to hone your parenting style? If so, Slumberkins can help. We offer products and resources designed to encourage healthy emotional growth and help you raise confident, caring kids.
Support self-esteem with Slumberkins today.
- "Your Child's Self-Esteem." Nemours Children’s Health. https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/self-esteem.htm
- "Building Your Child’s Self-Esteem." Children’s Hospital. https://www.chp.edu/for-parents/health-tools/parent-resources/parenting-tips/building-your-childs-self-esteem
- Morin, Amy. "The Importance of Chores for Kids." VeryWellFamily. Updated 30 September, 2020. https://www.verywellfamily.com/the-importance-of-chores-for-kids-1095018
- "Guided Imagery & Meditation for Kids." Health Powered Kids. https://healthpoweredkids.org/lessons/guided-imagery-for-younger-children/
- Farmer, Nicole et al. “Psychosocial Benefits of Cooking Interventions: A Systematic Review.” Health education & behavior : the official publication of the Society for Public Health Education vol. 45,2 (2018): 167-180. doi:10.1177/1090198117736352