Teaching self-esteem habits to students can be tricky. And that’s because it’s often best taught as the need arises to ensure a lasting impression upon the child.
As school counselors, we want to give our students skills that’ll make an impact on them for their entire lives. And self-esteem is one of the most overlooked, yet necessary, skills to teach to our students.
In fact, the research showing the effects of healthy self-esteem on academic performance is overwhelming.
So why aren’t we incorporating more skill-building when it comes to this very topic?
Self-esteem helps students feel more empowered and thus they are capable of reaching their highest potential when it comes to their education. And it turns out that good grades can also boost a child’s self-esteem. So when it comes down to it, good grades and higher self-esteem go hand in hand.
Teaching Students Self-Esteem Building Habits
When teaching students self-esteem skills, there are a few guiding principles that you can use to improve students’ ability to foster a healthy self-image and level of confidence.
The following tips are habits you can teach students during moments of uncertainty, self-doubt, and any other time you see a student struggling with self or identity.
Teach Total Acceptance to Improve Self-Esteem in Students
Sometimes, children don’t realize that they don’t have to live up to someone else’s expectations, criteria, or fit the social-norms.
Moreover, students don’t know they have the choice to accept themselves as they are.
In other words, it’s important to teach students that they can make the decision to accept who they are, in this moment.
And that there is no such thing as perfection.
You can do this simply by praising differences, special gifts, and allowing students to follow their own path when uniqueness shines through.
Teach Students to Be Present
Mindfulness, and living in the moment, is something that takes practice. But the outcome of living in the “now” has a significant effect on self-esteem and anxiety.
Teaching students to take time to focus on what’s happening in the present moment (without judging or attaching to any outcome) can help students enjoy their lives, their education, and their friends without added pressure.
Mindfulness activities can easily be woven into your curriculum with daily or weekly activities.
Teach Students to Stand for Something
Students who feel as though they have a purpose, and strong beliefs, have a solid sense of identity.
Helping your students uncover the things that give their lives meaning will also give them something to return to and focus on when they feel lost.
Create pillar (or cornerstone) activities allowing students to assign a value or belief to each pillar. Students can reflect back on their pillars when they’re overwhelmed or having trouble making decisions.
Hint: Let them have as many pillars as they want or need.
Ignore Comparisons To Teach Self-Esteem Habits
In a day where social media rules, it can be hard for children not to play the comparison game. Values, beliefs, and personal identities can become lost when students try to be just like someone else. (Someone they’ve seen on tv or social media)
And since we know it’s not possible to be just like someone else, children who feel pressure to change to be like someone else will fail to see their own talents and abilities. This could mean they’re missing the boat on their own life purpose.
Teach students to celebrate their gifts, call them out when you notice them, and ask them to reflect on what they are good at when spirits are low.
Chances are, they know deep down what makes them tick.
Teach Students to Live for Themselves
Unfortunately, peer pressure is alive and well.
Not just in the classroom, but at home as well. The pressure to do things students aren’t comfortable with can sometimes be healthy, but if these activities don’t align with their values, beliefs, or abilities, students should know that they don’t have to please everyone.
If you notice a student in an uncomfortable situation, reach out when the time is right and let them know that they don’t have to worry about what others think if they decide to opt-out of certain activities.
When these moments surface, referencing the child’s pillars will help them return to themselves and push aside the pressure to do something they aren’t comfortable with.
Sometimes, all children need is reassurance that they can trust themselves and their feelings.
These are just a few reminders of how a student’s self-esteem can be bolstered, but there are many ways you can help students become more confident with themselves and each of these tips can help them do better in school and as they grow.