As adults, we can foster confidence in children by helping them feel competent, valued, and independent. It’s also important to teach social and problem-solving skills so kids feel prepared to navigate the situations life brings.
Self-confidence activities offer another fun engaging way to build confidence and self-esteem in children.
9 Self-Confidence Building Activities for Students
Try these 9 self-confidence activities with your students to empower their sense of self-worth.
1. Letter to Yourself
Understanding and accepting yourself is key to developing self-esteem, as is the ability to reflect. Writing letters to themselves can help children build these essential skills.
Here are a few different letter-writing activities you can try with students:
- Letter to your future self-- children should write a letter to their future self about what they would like to do and accomplish by the end of the school year. At the end of the year, return the letters to students so they can reflect on how far they’ve come. If they didn’t fully reach their goals, celebrate their progress and talk about the lessons they’ve learned that will help them in the future.
- Letter to your past self-- have your students write about the achievements they’re proud of, the mistakes they’ve learned from, and what they can do differently going forward. If this letter brings up any negative feelings for your students, remind them it’s not too late to make changes. Help them brainstorm steps they can take to create the positive changes they’d like to see.
- Thank you letter to yourself- in this letter, they write a thank you letter to themselves about the qualities they’re happy to have, the achievements they’re proud of, and so on. An alternative to this activity is to have students write thank you letters to important people in their lives, as practicing gratitude boosts positive thinking and confidence. Older children may enjoy writing thank you letters to their classmates (and reading about why their classmates feel grateful for them too).
2. Transforming Negative Self-Talk Activity
Tell older children to divide a sheet of paper into three columns. In the middle, students list negative self-talk they find themselves using. Examples might include, “I can’t do this,” “I’m not smart/cool/funny enough,” or, “I’m just too shy/boring/bad at school.”
In the column on the left, tell students to list situations or thoughts that trigger the negative self-talk they wrote in the middle column. For example, thoughts about being “dumb” or bad at school may be triggered by earning a bad grade or comparing their own performance in school to their peers.
Finally, students write a positive statement in the right column to replace the negative statement on the left. They could simply reverse the statement on the left (e.g., “I can do this,” or, “I’m good enough”). Alternatively, they can use a growth mindset statement, such as, “I can improve my grades and get better at school if I study more and ask for help when I need it.”
Negative self-talk is often at the root of low self-esteem. Learning to recognize what triggers negative self-talk and how to reframe these thoughts positively is a powerful way to overcome these thoughts and boost confidence. When students find themselves slipping into negative self-talk, they can work to replace them with more empowering thoughts. Encourage students who struggle with this exercise to start by asking themselves, “What if [the negative thought] isn’t true?”
Looking for more ways to help with negative self-talk? We offer an on-demand How to Transform Negative Self-Talk into Self-Love masterclass for parents where you'll learn why your child has negative self-talk and effective practices to help them turn it into self-love.
3. Certificate of Recognition
Begin this activity by assigning each student a classmate to observe for a week. Students should not share who they are observing for the week. At the end of the week, students create a Certificate of Recognition celebrating their assigned classmate for something they’ve done during the week. It may be a kind or helpful act, actively participating in the class, etc.
The following week, tell students that, this time, they are observing themselves. At the end of the week, they’ll make a Certificate of Recognition to celebrate something positive they’ve done. This activity trains the brain to look for the positive and celebrate even small achievements and accomplishments.
4. Gratitude Journal
Research shows people who practice gratitude tend to have higher self-esteem. Intentionally noticing the positive in others and in the world helps children notice the positive in themselves too.
Students can write in gratitude journals daily or weekly. There are a few different ways to approach this exercise:
- Provide writing prompts, such as, “Something that made me smile today was __________,” or, “Two people I was grateful for today were _____________ and __________ because _______________.”
- Simply ask students to list three things they felt grateful for each day or week.
- Younger children can draw pictures of what they’re grateful for and then discuss with partners or groups.
Have class-wide discussions about gratitude using gratitude journals at least 2-3 times a month. Consistently writing and talking about gratitude yields more positive thoughts and feelings, in turn increasing self-esteem. You can find a simple and easy-to-use gratitude journal in the Podcast Season 1 & 2 Activity Kit PDF.
5. Goals Journal
Another type of positive confidence-building journal for students is a goals journal. Setting and achieving goals (or even making significant progress toward them) is a major confidence boost for children of all ages.
Each month, or each quarter of the school year, have students record one measurable achievable goal in their journal. Students should also write down how they will know when they’ve achieved their goal and what steps they’ll need to take to get there. Finally, write down potential obstacles and a plan for what they will do if the obstacle arises.
At the end of each week, have students record their progress toward the goal. Do they need to make any adjustments to their plan? Is there anything they’ll do differently next week? As a class, celebrate the progress toward the goals you’ve recorded.
Each time a student reaches their goal, lead a class-wide celebration. It can be something simple like having the student take a lap around the room and high-five their peers.
6. Cooperative Board Games
Children who feel valued and are comfortable in social situations are more confident. In addition, positive relationships are an essential foundation for self-esteem. Positive experiences with activities like cooperative board games encourage more cooperation in the future. The result is improved social skills, positive relationships, and greater self-esteem.
Fun cooperative board games for the classroom include The Secret Door, Stone Soup, and Race to the Treasure! Or, keep it simple by having groups of students work together to build something specific with Lego bricks, categorize words as nouns/verbs/adjectives, classify animals into appropriate groups, etc.
7. Achievements Collage
Start by asking students to make a list of all their “wins” or achievements so far in life. Explain this could include awards, athletic and academic achievements, or times they were kind and helpful to others. Wins also include reaching goals, facing an obstacle or challenge, and persisting through mistakes and setbacks.
Once the list is complete, have students create a collage of their achievements on a sheet of poster board. Provide magazines for children to cut pictures from or ask them to bring in items or photos from home. When complete, hang the posters in your classroom or ask students to display them in their bedrooms as a reminder of their many accomplishments.
8. “I Am” Activity
Ask students to draw a picture of themselves (or paste a photo) in the center of a sheet of paper or poster board. Around the picture, students write roles that define them (e.g., son/daughter, sibling, student, soccer player, friend, etc.).
In a wider circle around the picture and the roles, students write positive traits to describe themselves. This activity helps students reflect on their identity and self-image. It also gives them the opportunity to recognize their positive qualities.
Afterward, students share with a partner or group about how each trait represents them. An additional option is to have their partners or group members add positive qualities they see in the student.
9. Random Act of Kindness
Being of service to others and spreading kindness is another way to build students’ confidence. Encourage students to practice a random act of kindness each day for a week, then discuss the experience as a class.
Random acts of kindness may include completing a chore or task for someone without being asked, holding open a door, writing an encouraging note, sharing with others, or comforting someone who feels sad.
Along with these nine self-confidence activities, you may want to use confidence quotes and self-confidence affirmations. Plus, read our recent post on what confidence is and how to build it in children and teens. We also offer a digital confidence kit packed with goal-setting templates, problem-solving and mindfulness activities, worksheets to overcome negative self-talk, and much more! Confidence is both vital and teachable and these resources will help your children’s or students’ confidence soar!