The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major effect on all of our lives. Many children and adults are experiencing stress, anxiety, sadness and loneliness. In fact, 86% of doctors around the world believe that mental health issues and depression will be the biggest non-COVID-19 problem after the pandemic. Since February is International Boost Self-Esteem Month, now more than ever is a great time to focus on building resilience and confidence in 2021.
As patterns of self-esteem begin to form early in life, it is vital to promote healthy self-esteem in children. Each of us, as parents, can be a positive role model so that our children can mirror our behavior. But, how can we foster self-esteem in our schools?
It all starts with Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS). Elizabeth Lee Black School teachers have designed lessons based on the core principles of PBIS, which emphasize the importance of being kind, safe, and independent. Each week, students focus on a specific skill.
Teachers of our preschool students have a number of fun activities that promote self-esteem. The book, Have you Filled Your Bucket Today by Carol McCloud, is used in lessons as an analogy on how kind words fill your “bucket” and makes you feel good and happy, while negative words take away from your “bucket” and makes you feel sad.
Another activity involves the students filling a container with cotton balls when they say or do something kind, achieve a goal, and listen well. As the container gets full, students receive a reinforcer.
Even the cotton balls themselves are part of the lesson as each child is given the opportunity to feel a cotton ball and a piece of sandpaper. The class then discusses how cotton balls are soft, like nice words, and that sandpaper is rough, like unkind words.
These are two sample lessons that can increase peer and individual self-esteem by learning how kind words make us feel good about ourselves, encourage us and give us strength.
One can never overlook the power of kind words!