17 Great Resources for Building a Student’s Self Image

What do your students see when they look in the mirror? Do they see someone worthwhile or someone who will never be good enough? While it isn’t your responsibility to dig into the nuances of every student’s self-perception, you can still help the members of your class to have healthy views of themselves. Such a view can bolster their academic performance and serve as a bulwark against bullying. The following resources provide information about self-image that you can use in the classroom.

Background Information to Bolster Your Lessons

What does having a proper self-image involve? What factors go into how a person perceives him or herself? The resources in this section provide insight into how self-image works and offer specific techniques for building it up.

  • Perhaps you’ve heard it said that sports are an effective channel for boosting kids’ self-confidence. That is true, but only in certain cases. This article from Psychology Today explains under what circumstances sports have a positive effect. In a nutshell, “the potency of sports lies in their social setting.”
  • A writer for ChicagoNow points out that “a bully won’t bully a wall; [a bully] finds a target.” This article goes on to provide self-esteem pointers that can help students go from being a “target” to being a “wall.” Tips include things like practicing coping skills and slowing down to think before responding to a bully.
  • What is the psychology behind building a positive view of self? Drawing from counseling principles, the Mayo Clinic presents steps for challenging and changing negative thoughts, a process that can lead to higher self-esteem. Although the information aims to help adults, the principles therein are useful to individuals of every age.
  • Why do children form negative self-images? The answer has to do with a range of factors, most of which have their roots in the home. This piece from LiveStrong lists five situations that can bring kids down. As an educator, you may have little power to change some of these things, but being aware of them provides valuable insight into the way your students think.
  • You want to ensure that your students are safe online: safe from predators, safe from scams, safe from bullying, and safe from social media depression. This article from PsychCentral explains how social media can impact the way people view themselves and offers some tips that you can pass on to your students for keeping their social media life in the right place.
  • What ingredients go into the recipe for self-esteem? It’s more than a few pats on the back and gold stars. Healthy Children, an organization of the American Academy of Pediatrics, explains the key  elements of self-esteem, such as a sense of security and a sense of purpose. While the article addresses parents, you can still strive to provide some of those vital elements in your classroom.
  • Self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-image are closely related terms, but what about self-compassion? That too plays a role in how people perceive themselves. This piece sums up the main points from a TED talk about self-compassion and argues that self-compassion is even more important than self-esteem.
  • Hard work and a good education are forerunners of success, but those things don’t mean much if an aspiring businessperson lacks a sense of self-worth. This article, entitled “The Business of Self-Esteem,” provides career-focused folks with tips on how to build a beneficial view of self. The information can benefit teenagers on the verge of embarking on their own paths in life.

Lesson Plans and Activities for the Classroom

After you gain a firm grasp on the principles of self-image and what shapes it, you are in a good position to help your students benefit from your understanding. These resources provide practical tools you can use to potentially alter how your students see themselves.

  • How people view themselves often has a profound impact on how they act and on how others view them. Show your students the consequences of self-image through targeted lesson plans from Media Smarts. The lessons cover things like advertising and male violence, gender stereotypes, prejudice, and body image.
  • Kim’s Counseling Corner serves up a list of activities designed to help kids boost their self-esteem. Some activities are designed specifically for parents to do with their children, but others will work just as well in a classroom setting.
  • Reading lets kids explore the world and their imaginations — and it can help them bolster their self-image. This list of books from Mommy Edition features titles that teach valuable lessons about self-esteem. The sections of the list include books that are appropriate for three different age groups: 2-5 year-olds, 5-10 year-olds, and kids older than 10.
  • Maybe you’re sick of hearing the tunes from “Frozen” time and time again, but the movie has more than catchy songs. This piece goes into five lessons about self-esteem that girls can learn from the movie.
  • Some students may be hard on themselves because they aren’t naturals when it comes to certain academic subjects like reading. Pop Mythology explains how the game Heroclix can get students interested in reading and feel more confident about it. Building confidence in one area can affect a person’s entire self-image.
  • A short article from Society for Science provides a startling example of the negative impact the media can have on how people perceive themselves. The piece focuses on Fiji, a country that was virtually without eating disorders until the 1990s. The advent of the disorders correlates with the advent of Western media.
  • A student’s level of confidence often affects how much he or she benefits from the material you present. This article from TeachHUB outlines some simple ways you can nudge your students toward increased self-belief.
  • Meaghan Ramsey, who works with the Dove Self-Esteem Project, presents her thoughts in a TED talk entitled “Why thinking you’re ugly is bad for you.” She points out the negative effects of poor self-image and how to combat it. Watching the video may prove especially helpful for young teenage girls.

You’re passionate about your job, and you see that your students have unlimited potential. However, they may not see that potential because a warped self-image gets in the way. Use the above resources to help your students develop healthy, balanced views of themselves.

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