Confidence Building Games for Children

By Sheryl Faber
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Your youngster often seems unsure of himself and sometimes suffers from poor self-esteem. You want to introduce him to some exercises and activities that will assist in increasing his overall confidence level. The type of activities you choose will depend on his age level and the number of other participants available.

The Compliments Game

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Throwing balls around is always fun for youngsters of any age. The Therapeutic Recreation Directory lists several that will engage participants and allow them to get to know their peers. Gather and seat a group of children around in a circle. Throw a soft ball in their midst and ask that the thrower toss the ball to someone else in that circle while giving a compliment to that person. Step up the pace by adding more balls to the mix, with children calling out specific compliments about each recipient. The object of the game is to get everyone involved in saying nice things about each other and to help participants feel good about themselves.

The Self-Esteem Game

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There is actually a confidence-building board game known as "The Self -Esteem Game." It was created by clinical child psychologist Michael Sheehan over a period of many years as he sought a manner in which parents could interact with their children in a positive and loving manner. This board game gives parents opportunities and openers for conversations that they would have found difficult in other circumstances. It builds the child's confidence as he learns how to relate to his parents and communicate his feelings.

Animal-Steem Activity

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This animal-based game from the book "Self-Esteem Games" by Barbara Sher assists young children identifying their strengths. They are asked to pick an animal, tell others why it is similar or like themselves and then act out the animal's actions and antics. They would state "If I were an animal, I would be a __, Because it is good at _____, Just Like me!" A child who chooses a rabbit would probably state that he is fast and smart, just like a rabbit. He would then proceed to hop and run just like a bunny. This activity would increase a child's confidence by having him identify his strengths.

The Advertising Game

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This particular game listed in the Therapeutic Recreation Directory is great for those who may feel that these other activities are too young for them. Not only does this exercise help in identifying positive traits and increasing confidence, it also teaches the basics of what advertising is all about.

To play, each child is given a piece of colored paper. They fold it in half and on the inside they write what traits they possess that make them a good friend. The point is to actually advertise for new friends. They then close the paper and give it to the person on their right. This person writes something positive about the original card holder on the back. The card is passed around without being opened as others in the class write positive statements on the back also. At the end of the session, the card is returned to the original owner so he can review all the positive statements. This exercise gives youngsters confidence as they recognize the positives both in themselves and also in others.

Playing Sports

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Any type of sports game is going to be a confidence booster. Getting your child away from his video games and out playing with other children will increase his social skills, his stamina and his confidence level as well as teach him how to handle stress. The exercise alone will keep him active and happier because of the endorphins that are created in his brain. NY Metro Parents advises parents to be sure to choose a sport a child truly enjoys. And when your child he loses interest, it may be time to find a new and more challenging athletic pastime.

Parental Guidance

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Parents should monitor the games to be sure that they include the essentials for meaningful play. According to The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), these include the ability to make their own choices, be motivated and engaged, and truly enjoy the activities at hand. KidsHealth recommends that children who continue to have confidence issues may need to have the guidance of a professional to help develop problem-solving skills and self-esteem.