Rare is the child who has self-esteem in spades.
As a teacher, many a time you may have come across a child who is intelligent, a child who dances or sings exceptionally well but refuses to do any of this in class because he or she think they will be ridiculed or made fun of by their classmates.
No matter how much you tell them to display their talent or share it, these children might refuse to do so. This is because it all boils down to self-confidence. They don’t feel confident about themselves or their abilities and therefore do not want to share their talents and skills. While in some cases, this might not affect them in anyway, in some cases a lack of self-esteem can be damaging because it can become an obstacle to being successful or competent.
Here are 8 ways in which you can improve your students’ self-esteem.
1. Establish a positive environment in your classroom – You cannot expect your students to have confidence in themselves and their abilities if you don’t provide an environment that encourages it. The biggest mistake is that we sometimes conflate confidence with cockiness when they are in fact two different things. Confidence is having faith in your skills while cockiness comes from a misplaced sense of self-worth.
2. Value each student as an individual with unique strengths and interests – Some students might share similar talents or skills but that does not mean that they are all the same. How would you feel if you were lumped under one category regardless of your abilities? The same goes for your students too. They are individuals with skills and talents and they should be valued as such.
3. Use mistakes as learning opportunities – Teach your students that mistakes do not mean failure or the end. Rather they are often the stepping stones to success. Teach your students to use mistakes as opportunities to learn and to do better the next time around.
4. Applaud the activity, not the student – When a student performs something or says something and you find that merits applause, give them due credit. Do not try to boost their self-esteem by praising them with the mistaken belief that it will help them become more confident. Children are perceptive and see when you are humoring them or are genuinely appreciating them.
5. Avoid using sarcasm with students, they often misinterpret it – Sarcasm is something better suited to adults. Children have a habit of taking everything literally. If you sarcastically tell a student that they did fantastic when you mean to say that they did badly, you are needlessly setting up the child for disappointment in the future and not being a helpful or supportive teacher.
6. Help the child develop decision making and problem solving skills – A lack of self-esteem can also lead to children being indecisive and feeling like they can’t solve any problems they face. Teach your students that decision-making and problem solving is something all people are capable of, they just require the person in question to think and everybody is capable of thinking.
7. Never communicate your disappointment to your students – If a student has failed or done badly, they are probably already disappointed about it and have berated themselves quite a bit about it. It is up to you to keep a positive attitude and encourage your students to not feel bad about it and that there is always a next time. If you communicate your disappointment to them, they are not going to be encouraged by it, just further distressed.
8. Encourage active participation in classroom activities – One cannot build confidence by being quiet and withdrawn. Instead, confidence comes from repeatedly taking part in events and by bulldozing over anxious thoughts. Encourage all your students to take part in events, not just the confident ones and not just the unsure everyone. Encourage them to take part and teach that the end result is not important; it is act of taking part. This way you will be able to slowly help them feel more confident about themselves.
How do you help build confident students? Share your ideas and suggestions with us in the comments section below!