I’d like to start by saying that I’ve done these self-esteem activities with mixed groups of boys and girls – self-esteem isn’t just a girls issue.
Young men struggle with self-esteem too. Some studies have found that young men have a higher risk for dependency on drugs by the time they’re 20 if they have low self-esteem when they’re as young as 6th and 7th grade. Young men might also be at risk for low self-esteem based on academic achievements, surrounds and comparisons, particularly to girl counterparts.
This article offered some good tips on how to help the young men in your life to develop more positive self-esteem and hopefully some of the activities below will be a good jumping off point in your own youth programs.
Self-Esteem Discussion Starters
- Media Collage – draw an outline of a person on the ground. Using magazines and/or the internet, have the youth put down images, slogans, etc. that identify how men and women should look, think, dress, act or feel. Ask some questions once the collage is complete: What are these adverts saying to you? How do they make you feel? Do you match their stereotypical imagery? Why do advertisers use them?
- Quote – “I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and to incur my own abhorrence” – Frederick Douglass. Explore what this quote means to the youth in your group (remember to explain any tricky vocabulary).
- Multiple Intelligences Test – I discovered this several years ago. It’s a fantastic way to help young people identify things that they’re good at and it allows for a discussion about what makes us all different and special. I used to use a fantastic site that allowed you to print the results in a graph. Sadly the link is broken now, but this one is good as well. By taking the test and finding out that there is more ‘to be good at’ other than sports, the youth in your group or program will begin to find value in their interests and abilities, not just those their peers or society consider important.
- Fan mail – This is a tried and true activity that I’ve used with every youth I’ve ever worked with. You have the youth and leaders write their name at the top of a piece of paper. Put each piece of paper and a pen around the room randomly. Explain that everyone in the room needs to go around the room and at the bottom of the paper write something positive about the person whose name is at the top of the paper. It needs to be something thoughtful, if possible, rather than just ‘nice’ or ‘cool hair’. Especially try to refrain from comments about physical appearance. Once they write their comment, they fold up the bottom of the paper to cover their comment. Put on some music and let the group begin. Each person does this and the paper gets folded up over each comment so that it’s private between the writer and the receiver. Once everyone is done hand the papers back to each youth for them to read and keep.
- Split your group into two teams and give them one of these topics: Does advertising, the media, barbie, etc. affect how young men and women feel about themselves – why or why not? Have the for/against positions. Allow them time to do the research and present their findings and opinions. Maybe have some guest judges who decide which side presented the best case.
These are just a few suggested ideas for how to help the youth in your organization, both boys and girls, explore ideas and opinions about self-esteem and themselves. This weekend we also have a great self esteem photo to use to start a conversation in your youth group.
Question: Do you have any tips on how to explore self-esteem with the youth in your program? Let us know in the comments below?
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