Anyone who has studied Maslow’s ‘hierarchy of needs’ will know that in order for a human being to ‘Self-actualise’, they will previously have needed to experience a sense of belonging and esteem. Building confidence at an early stage is crucial for both kids and teenagers, as this will directly affect how they face difficult situations and problems in life. The holistic development of young people is at the very heart of what we do and the courses and programmes we develop are specifically designed to improve self-esteem. With that in mind, we would like to share some great tips that have worked for us for many years and also important reasons behind our approach when it comes down to building self-belief in young people.
Defining goals and boosting kid’s self-confidence
In an education system that revolves around and insists on accountability, levels and targets, it is now more than ever, critical that we put the human being at the heart of our educational process. Inspectorates have always steered clear of trying to measure what they describe as ‘soft skills’ because they are far harder if not impossible to measure and account for. For this reason, self-esteem activities have always played a largely peripheral role in subjects traditionally perceived as academic, ironically overlooking the real needs of young people.
The work of Coopersmith in the 1960’s was a landmark text in promoting self-esteem and his distinction between pro-social self-esteem and distorted self-esteem was a key building block for our programmes. The self-esteem activities for teens that we use are essential in helping them understand the negative things they do to build up an ‘image’ that they perceive is an essential tool for surviving high school.
Confidence building activities help young people develop pro-social self-esteem which provides a lifelong sense of self-worth and purpose within society. Our leadership programme in particular, The Heroes Journey, encourages young people to volunteer and devote time as peer mentors and positive role models for younger students, and in doing so, promote self-confidence in themselves and the youngsters they help.
Self-esteem activities to connect with children and teenagers
Coopersmith suggested that there are 4 key components of self-esteem; Significance, Competence Virtue & Power and our carefully constructed a self-esteem inventory with lesson plans to target these highly desirable factors in order to boost self-esteem. We provide opportunities to encourage young people to become significant within their peer group by being good at socially beneficial activities such as leading small groups and speaking out to promote their own important beliefs and opinions.
When a young person is failing at key school subjects such as English and Maths, it is vitally important that they are given a wide variety of opportunities to develop competence in other areas of school life. However, subjects like PE and technology are often undervalued and marginalised by the school system and there is a lack of parity with their more academic counterparts. At humanutopia we therefore consider it imperative to provide self-love exercises, which encourage young people to taste success through non-lesson based and more socially relevant experiences.
When planning our courses, we use self-esteem worksheets for teens to work through and understand the key barriers and obstacles that are holding them back from the self-actualisation that Maslow identified as the ultimate purpose of human life. Using these worksheets helps young people create a new framework and paradigm for their life by enabling them to identify possible solutions to negative cycles that they have unwittingly allowed to develop.
The powerful enlightenment that comes through seeing themselves in a fresh, more positive light, is crucially important in developing the third and fourth of Coopersmith’s components, Virtue and Power. Once a young person becomes liberated and emancipated from the shackles of their previously limiting thought processes, the shift in their self-belief and optimism is awe-inspiring. Our confidence building activities really do provide a platform on which to build a new life for themselves.
A special focus on girls and young women
In a world of cynical and crude commercialism, young people and in particular young women and girls are constantly bombarded with media images of how they ‘should’ look and as a consequence, we are experiencing a dramatic rise in the number of young girls who are self-harming and committing suicide.
The humanutopia teams who work in schools every day witness many unsolicited testimonies from teenage girls who feel inadequate and ill-prepared to face the world. They do not like themselves and resort to all manner of self-deprecating activities which disempower them from fulfilling their potential. Our programmes and courses attempt, and in many cases succeed, in providing young women with the opportunities to rebuild their self-perception, by in the first instance, accepting who they are and falling back in love with their own uniqueness.
Improving school education and promoting self-esteem
humanutopia continues to lobby and advocate at all levels the need to build a new National Curriculum, which puts its very customers’ health and wellbeing at the heart of the process. In schools with young people and teachers, at our conferences, local and national, we advocate and celebrate the success stories that we witness each week of young people who have taken control of their lives and destinies because they feel happier and more optimistic about their futures. It is now up to the authorities and powers that be to take notice of the growing epidemic of Mental Health illnesses that plague our young people by rethinking the true purpose of education.