In her book, Self-esteem Games, Occupational Therapist Barbara Sher suggests the following fun activities to help your child understand himself better, and become more emotionally self-aware. Being able to notice his feelings and give a name to them, can help build up self-esteem.
If he is able to say what he feels, listen to him. If he is non-verbal, carefully observe his actions.
Give him permission to express himself, even if you feel that it sounds negative and do not want to encourage it. Your goal is to help him know that his feelings matter, and he is significant. In such a context, you are not being over-indulgent in paying attention to what he says or does.
Game 1 – Musical Drawings
- Goal: Allow music to help us connect with our feelings or at least be more aware of emotions and our inner world
- Benefit: Self-expression through art and bonding with your child
- Material(s): Paper, pencils, colour pencils, crayons, paint, paint brushes, music recordings
- Put on some music
- Draw, colour and/or paint with your child
- Simply enjoy drawing or painting with music in the background
- Let the mood of the music inspire your drawing or painting
Parents of non-verbal children, in particular, will appreciate this activity.
Game 2 – Cross the Line
- Goal: Notice emotions and give them a name
- Benefit: Awareness that feelings affect us and we can exercise control over them
- Material(s): Chalk or tape to draw or indicate a line on the floor
Sets of Emotions: brave turning to fearful, proud turning to humble, joyful turning to despairing, angry turning to calm, serious turning to silly
- Draw a line on the floor
- Take turns to cross the line
- As you walk to the line, act like you feel one of the sets of emotions as mentioned above
- When you cross the line, switch to the opposite emotion
- Use your whole body to express the emotions. Use exaggerated actions, if it helps you to convey how you feel
It is easy to recognise an emotion when it is acted out in this manner. It is also fun to laugh at ourselves doing it. So give it a try!
Self-esteem Games by Barbara Sher is available in Singapore’s Public Libraries.
Sher, B. (1998) Self-esteem Games -300 fun activities that make children feel good about themselves, Jossey-Bass, Wiley, San Francisco, USA, page 4-5, 48, 51
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