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10 Best Self-Esteem Activities for Kids

Self-esteem is one of the crucial foundations of childhood development built over time.

It refers to one’s subjective evaluation of their worth and value, as reflected by their opinions and beliefs about themselves.

As parents and educators, we must help cultivate a healthy amount of this essential building block so they can become well-rounded individuals.

This article explains the role of self-esteem in childhood development and its impact on various aspects of a child’s life.

Similarly, it offers guidance for nurturing this attribute through activities that foster a strong sense of worth in every child.

young boy Repairing bikes with his mom

Self-Esteem Activities for Kids

Kids can learn healthy self-esteem through several influences, including but not limited to their family, surroundings, and experiences[1].

Regardless of your kid’s learning style — visual, auditory, tactile, or kinesthetic —, there are plenty of resources to help them cultivate strong self-esteem that will impact their character, relationships, and future life pursuits. Here are some activities to get them started:

1. Positive self-talk exercises

In a positive self-talk exercise, children are encouraged to start talking about themselves in a way that helps boost their confidence and cultivate their self-belief.

To conduct this activity, teach the child to replace negative statements with positive ones. For example, instead of “I am not worthy,” get them to say, “I am worthy and loved.”

Reinforce this exercise by making them practice positive self-talk even during challenging situations. Doing this will build a child’s resiliency and help reframe their thoughts[2]

2. Encourage Self-Expression through Art or Journaling

Art has an all-encompassing influence on every individual, which makes it an ideal medium for self-exploration and harnessing a positive sense of self.

A study conducted by a researcher from Lesley University concludes a positive correlation between art therapy and self-esteem among children and adolescents[3].

Provide kids with art supplies and or a personal journal where they can express their thoughts, emotions, and experiences. Help them process their feelings through their artworks by allowing them to interpret what they mean.

Also, using self-esteem worksheets as part of their journaling process gives them a medium to align their thoughts with their sense of worth.

3. Role-playing and assertiveness training

Aside from exercising communication skills, role-playing and assertiveness training allow kids to practice expressing their needs, boundaries, and desires in different scenarios. Moreover, it enhances intrapersonal intelligence, of which self-esteem is an example[4].

Stage a mini-play where kids can pretend and act according to their assigned roles. Help them in navigating their emotions while playing their characters, especially when it comes to assertiveness.

4. Encourage goal setting and celebrating successes

Most self-beliefs among kids tie to goal achievement, such as academic accomplishments. One research found that optimism, which is relevant to self-esteem, positively correlates with goal achievement[5].

Support kids in setting realistic goals. It may include small tasks such as cleaning the room or completing a school assignment. Break the goals down into small activities and celebrate each milestone completed.

5. Engage in physical activities and sports

Kids engaged in sports tend to have higher self-esteem than those without physical activities[5]. Hence, young people are encouraged to expose themselves to sports early in their childhood to cultivate their confidence and self-belief over time.

Design or organize a mini sports event that kids can enjoy and find challenging to foster resiliency and self-belief. Whether it is a team sport, individual activity, or outdoor play, encourage them to participate in the event. Such will help instill a sense of pride in winning and humility in defeat, which can positively impact their self-esteem.

6. Volunteer and community service projects

Young individuals, particularly teens, can boost their self-esteem by participating in socio-civic events such as community service and volunteer work.

A study published by the Journal of Adolescence has found that altruistic behaviors, including small acts of kindness to strangers, raise teens’ self-worth[6].

Kids as young as five can be encouraged to participate in community-building efforts such as food distribution and cleanliness drives. Such experiences allow them to witness their positive impact on strangers’ lives, ultimately reinforcing their sense of worth.

7. Praise effort, not just achievement

Praise is a verbal reinforcement that seeks to motivate a child’s efforts and accomplishments. When leveraged positively, it can help build healthy self-esteem over time by promoting reliance on self and competence[7].

The key here is to give praise not only for the achievement but also for the effort it took for the kids to perform an activity.

8. Mindfulness and relaxation exercises

In a study published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, researchers discovered that mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) help reinforce positive mental well-being among children and adolescents[8]. With improved mental health, youngsters can display healthy self-esteem over time.

Consider guided imagery as a mindfulness exercise wherein children can visualize or imagine a scenery that evokes pleasant emotions.

Tell them to imagine being at the beach, listening to the sound of the waves, or the rustling leaves in the forest. This exercise aims to create a sense of calm and ground the children in the present.

9. Build social connections and supportive relationships

As social beings, kids must be exposed to healthy social circles and establish a support system early on. Through these relationships, they can build healthy self-esteem and vice versa growing up[9]. A positive feedback loop bridges these two.

Simply allow kids to participate in group activities and conversations to help them establish mutually beneficial connections.

By reinforcing relationship-building, they can experience belonging, acceptance, and support that positively impact their self-esteem.

10. Encourage independence and decision-making

Children whose parents are hovering and somewhat intrusive tend to develop a complete dependency on them instead of cultivating confidence in their abilities[10]. Kids with autonomy become more adept in decision-making because they trust their instincts and mental processes.

By providing youngsters with age-appropriate responsibilities, they can practice solving problems early on and take accountability for their actions.

How Self-Esteem Activities Benefit Children

Self-esteem activities cultivate and nurture a positive sense of self, confidence, and resilience among kids and teens. Here are the ways it can benefit them:

Improved self-confidence and self-worth

Activities such as goal-setting, sports, journaling, and positive self-talk allow kids and teens to practice cultivating their strengths and honing their assets. They help reinforce motivation, independence, and resilience, especially when confronted with challenges throughout the task.

The self-expression that comes with journaling and other mindfulness-based interventions like meditation can allow youngsters to discover their worth and build upon their strengths[11].

Enhanced emotional resilience and coping skills

Self-esteem activities such as role-playing and assertiveness training allow youngsters to assess where they are in building confidence in themselves and how they cope. These activities can help establish emotional resilience.

Development of positive behaviors and attitudes

Activities such as volunteer work and community service allow kids to discover the joys of altruism. Along the way, they can cultivate kindness, empathy, and respect, ultimately contributing to their self-esteem. 

Reduced risk of mental health issues

Self-esteem activities are exercises that promote good mental health. Meanwhile, according to a study, those with low self-esteem tend to manifest anxiety and stress among school-age kids. Practicing mindfulness exercises is encouraged to help avoid these risks.

Additional Tips for Fostering Self-Esteem in Children

Aside from the abovementioned list of activities, here are other suggestions for cultivating self-esteem among children:

Provide unconditional love and support.

Be consistent in showing love and support to kids. They are at an age when their relationships and environment impact their sense of worth. Offer them a safe space for self-expression and clarify that the love they receive is not dependent on achievement or performance.

Avoid comparisons to others.

Each child is unique, and it’s an important consideration when helping them cultivate their self-esteem. Hence, do not compare a kid’s achievements to another to avoid negatively impacting the latter’s sense of worth.

Encourage healthy habits and self-care practices.

Healthy kids are more likely to maintain confidence. Besides mindfulness and relaxation practices, help them observe a healthy lifestyle that’s suitable for their age.

Emphasize strengths and unique qualities.

Help kids discover their strengths and assets by engaging them in regular conversations and encouraging them to explore diverse hobbies. Once established, consistently recognize their talents to help boost their confidence and self-belief.

Praise their effort and progress over perfection.

Acknowledge the willingness of the kids to exert efforts in their tasks and do not dwell on imperfections. Remember that kids can improve over time. The last thing they need to hear is disapproval of their work. Instead, praise their effort to instill in them a growth mindset.


Cultivating self-esteem among kids is a good investment in their overall mental well-being. It is thus advisable to help them nurture this quality through activities like positive self-talk, art or journaling, and goal-setting.

Remember that more than anything, our kids need constant guidance and motivation to help them uncover their strengths and build their character toward adulthood.

The good news is that you don’t need to start from scratch. You can take advantage of online resources for assisting kids in their self-discovery which will amplify their sense of worth. 


[1] Graphy Publications (2017) The development of self-esteem in children: Systematic Review and meta-analysis, International Journal of Psychology & Behavior Analysis. Available at: (Accessed: 24 June 2023). 

[2] Burnett, P.C. (no date) Self-talk in Upper Elementary School Children: Its relationship with irrational beliefs, self-esteem, and Depression – Journal of Rational-emotive & cognitive-behavior therapy, SpringerLink. Available at: (Accessed: 24 June 2023). 

[3] Schott, J. (2020) Lesley University digitalcommons@lesley, DigitalCommons@Lesley. Available at:  (Accessed: 24 June 2023). 

[4] Wee, S.-J., Shin, H.-S. and Kim, M.-H. (no date) Young Children’s role-playing for enhancing personal intelligences in Multiple Intelligences Theory, International Research in Early Childhood Education. Available at:  (Accessed: 24 June 2023). 

[5] Collins, N.M. et al. (2017) Effects of early sport participation on self-esteem and happiness, The Sport Journal. Available at: (Accessed: 24 June 2023). 

[6] Padilla-Walker, L.M., Carlo, G. and Memmott-Elison, M. (2017) Longitudinal change in adolescents’ prosocial behavior toward strangers, friends, and family, ResearchGate. Available at:’_Prosocial_Behavior_Toward_Strangers_Friends_and_Family  (Accessed: 24 June 2023). 

[7] MR; H.J. (2021) The effects of praise on children’s intrinsic motivation: A review and synthesis, Psychological Bulletin. Available at: (Accessed: 24 June 2023). 

[8] Dunning, D. et al. (2019) Research review: The effects of mindfulness-based interventions on Cognition and mental health in children and adolescents – a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials, Journal of child psychology and Psychiatry, and allied disciplines. Available at: (Accessed: 24 June 2023). 

[9] Harris, M. (2019) Positive relationships boost self-esteem, and vice versa, American Psychological Association. Available at: (Accessed: 24 June 2023). 

[10] Reed, K. et al. (2016) Helicopter parenting and emerging adult self-efficacy: Implications for mental and physical health – journal of child and family studies, SpringerLink. Available at: (Accessed: 24 June 2023). 

[11] Modi, S., Joshi, U. and Narayanakurup, D., 2018. To what extent is mindfulness training effective in enhancing self-esteem, self-regulation, and psychological well-being of school going early adolescents?. Journal of Indian Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health. Available at: (Accessed: 24 June 2023).