How to build self-esteem in children

Many children can struggle with self-esteem and confidence and can be unaware of what they are capable of. This leads to them having a negative view about themselves. It is vital to support pupils in building their self-esteem and confidence by implementing certain strategies.

Discover how to build self-esteem in children in this blog post and show them what they can do to help them believe in themselves.


Have a check in about regular feelings

Encourage pupils to share their feelings as they can often feel nervous or worried when experiencing a big emotion. Doing this not only lets children feel heard but allows them to see they are not alone. They will see that their peers are also experiencing similar feelings as them, which helps to take the worry away.

You can choose to do these check ins as a class or in smaller groups. To start your pupils off, begin with your own feelings to encourage them to open up. Ask the group if anyone would like to share a word or visual to describe how they are currently feeling. You could use our emotion tokens to bring a little fun to the discussion and can aid children in expressing their feelings when they can’t communicate them.


Show them you value effort over perfection

Children can often worry about not succeeding and feel pressured to push themselves constantly to be perfect in their learning. This can lead to them missing out on a lot of things as they are too busy striving for perfection and worrying. It is important, as their teacher, to reassure them that it’s perfectly fine to make mistakes.

Make sure not to be too critical when mistakes are made and if you notice a pupil being hard on themselves, tell them that everyone can make mistakes. Talk to them about how mistakes are a part of life, and they help us to grow to ease their worries. Let them know that it’s vital to make mistakes as that is how we learn best.


Do team games

Bring children together to socialise and make friends by doing some team games. It can be hard for children with low self-esteem to interact and make friends with others. Doing team games can help them to build confidence around their peers and feel more at ease. Team games are also a great way for children to realise that they have a lot to offer to the group too.

There are many team games you can play, but the best ones are the classics such as tug of war, tag and capture the flag. These games are a lot of fun for pupils and never fail to bring the group together as they have to work with each other.

You could even try our talking tower that supports children in building self-esteem. It aids them in working together while exploring their emotional well-being. Choose to build or remove blocks from the talking tower by answering the questions and carrying out actions.


Encourage children to challenge themselves

It is vital to encourage pupils to challenge themselves to boost their confidence and self-esteem. Make sure to challenge children in small steps at first, then build on them so that they can manage them. When they complete the small challenges, it is important to praise them afterwards. This will encourage children to gently push themselves. Don’t wait until they have completed the bigger challenge, as each time they finish the steps, they are closer to completing the bigger challenge. A simple phrase such as “Well done, I know it was hard, but you completed it” can really boost their confidence.


How to build self-esteem in children- teacher and child playing talking tower

Allow pupils to teach and share their knowledge

Allow pupils to take the spotlight and teach their peers by sharing their specialist knowledge. Every child has different knowledge in various areas due to their background. Let them talk to the rest of the class about their interests as a way to boost their self-esteem.

Set around 5 minutes for each pupil to stand at the front of the class and talk about whatever they like. This can be done in groups to encourage them to do the task, as it can be daunting to do on their own. Let the class ask some questions so that they learn more about the chosen subject. Then, provide feedback with a simple statement like “Thank you for that. I have learnt a lot about this topic.” Doing this will make pupils feel more confident in their own knowledge.


Let them voice their ideas

A great way to build self-esteem in children is to allow them to voice their ideas. Encourage pupils to tell you and the class what they think when learning. Let them know that it’s okay to share thoughts and welcome any ideas. Have no judgements when ideas are brought forward, as they can’t be wrong.

It is also vital to show them that they can challenge other perspectives or be challenged. It’s fine when people disagree as we all have different views.


Provide opportunities for children to get to know themselves

Prompt children to explore various questions every day. These questions can be anything that lets pupils self-reflect, such as: What have I done today that I am proud of? What did I do successfully? What can I focus on tomorrow to help me grow?

Doing this lets them realise their capabilities and that they can do tasks successfully. This could be done via a discussion, or children can write the answers down or draw them. There is a possibility to take this a step further by tasking pupils to create their own wellbeing journal.


Boost their perception of themselves

When learning, children can be quite hard on themselves and often beat themselves up. This can stem from their perception of themselves. Pupils with low self-esteem usually see themselves in a negative light and feel like they aren’t capable.

It is important that you let them know how you see them and what they are capable of. When you notice a child being hard on themselves, tell them that they are capable and are doing a great job. Doing this gives them a confidence boost and turns the negative voice into a positive one.



Implement these ways on how to build self-esteem in children to aid them with improving their confidence and self-esteem. Show them how capable they are by praising them for their efforts. Make sure to show them that there’s no pressure and provide regular feedback to help them grow. Allow them to realise it’s okay to be hard on yourself as everyone can be but show them how to manage this and switch it to a positive attitude.

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