Children & Self-Esteem

Teaching students about self-esteem is important at any age, but it’s super important to emphasize how critical it is to a child’s development. In this lesson I share some ideas and activities that help students understand what self-esteem is, the difference between positive and negative self-esteem, how it’s developed, why it’s important and who/what helps to influence it. So, read on to learn more about this lesson!


With a partner, brainstorm answers to the following prompts and be prepared to share and discuss your ideas:

  • What is self-esteem?  Summarize in your own words.
  • What is the difference between positive self-esteem and negative self-esteem?  Provide at least 2 characteristics for each type.
  • Why is self-esteem so important, especially in childhood?  Provide at least 3 benefits.
  • Who helps to develop a child’s self-esteem?  Provide at least 3 examples.
  • How is a child’s self-esteem influenced or developed?  Provide at least 3 examples.
  • Can a child’s self-esteem change?  If so, how?  If no, why not?



Share and discuss the students’ answers to the above brainstorm prompts. Answers should be fairly similar to the below responses.

  • Self-esteem is the way we think or feel about ourselves—think of it as a liquid filled pitcher. The liquid level of the pitcher will vary depending on whether our self-esteem is positive or negative.
  • Positive self-esteem is at a healthy level (not cocky), comfortable and person is accepting of self (realize that not everything is perfect or can be changed) and there is a sense of pride or value established.  Example: Jessica’s Daily Affirmations
  • Negative self-esteem is low; person thinks little of him/herself, is super critical of self and notices all faults/flaws, and worries what others will think of them, especially peers. Example: Eyeore Low Self- Esteem
  • Self-esteem is important in childhood because it’s laying the foundation for future relationships (family & friends), attitudes (confidence & mindset), and abilities (school, sports & talents). These can all shape how well a child gets along with others, whether s/he becomes a leader or a follower as well as their perspective and confidence in what they do or attempt to do in school, sports and even hobbies.  Ex. Kenny Rogers Song:  The Greatest. (Stop at “strike 3” and ask students how well this child plays baseball? And then continue—it’s all about perspective!  To you it may seem like this child can’t play baseball because he struck out. To the child, he’s the greatest because he was the pitcher and struck all of the batters out!)
  • Parents are the primary developers of a child’s self-esteem. However, other family members, teachers, coaches and other children can impact a child’s self-esteem.  How?  Through words, actions and experiences.  Example: The IALAC Story & Demonstration. (You may want to adapt this as it’s geared towards fathers, but it’s a great visual.)
  • Students think about their word choices as they complete the assignment below titled “The Power of Words”.
  • A child’s self-esteem can change, but it takes time, patience, effort and a lot of love and encouragement. Share some of the tips from this article, 10 Tips to Raise a Child With Resilience and Self-Esteem.

At this point, I take a few days to introduce a case study via a movie titled “A Shine of Rainbows“.

  • Before showing the movie, students are given a movie guide sheet that introduces the characters and allows students to take notes as they view.
  • Following the movie, students use their notes to analyze the influences on Tomas’ self-esteem and their positive and negative effects. Students complete this part by choosing the topics in each paragraph they wish to write about in their essay.
  • Finally, students create a visual title “Self-Esteem 20 Things”, using the provided template and criteria.


Photo by Katrina on Unsplash

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

2 comments for “Children & Self-Esteem

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.