6 Essential Ways to Instill a Positive Self-Concept.

Instill a Positive Self-Concept

What do the great leaders in history such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi have in common?

A strong and positive self-concept.

It allowed them to stand firm in their beliefs, exhibit resilience in the face of challenges, and advocate for justice peacefully while upholding their integrity and authenticity.

As educators, we play a vital role in molding the leaders of tomorrow. Therefore, it’s important that we make every effort to cultivate a solid foundation of self-concept in our students from an early age.

Positive Action’s curricula and programs are grounded on the philosophy that we feel good about ourselves when we engage in positive actions. 

One of the first things our program aims to bestow in your students is a positive self-concept, which is a strong predictor of long-term mental health and overall well-being

A positive self-concept holds considerable importance in educational psychology, and as such, fostering it is often regarded as an education goal linked to a variety of positive outcomes.

Today, we are going to take a look at strategies for instilling a positive self-concept in your students. We will also address the following topics:

  • Teaching students to set realistic goals that foster resilience
  • Involving parents in the conversation to reinforce a positive self-concept at home
  • Guiding students to appreciate themselves without veering into arrogance or boasting

Without further ado, let’s dive straight into the research-based, surefire methods you can use to instill a positive self-concept in your students.

1 - Promote a Healthy Self-Image

A healthy self-image refers to having a positive and realistic perception of oneself, including one's physical appearance, abilities, worth, and overall identity. 

It involves embracing one’s uniqueness, acknowledging strengths and weaknesses, and maintaining a balanced perspective on personal qualities.

As educators, we play a crucial role in equipping our students with essential skills to manage their thoughts, actions, and feelings to develop a positive self-concept.

For example, our Grade 1 Kit uses the analogy of two mice, Maurice and Marrott, to educate students on the importance of viewing themselves in a positive light.

Positive Action's Grade 1 Kit

The story centers on Marrott, who discovers that the sad mouse he mistakes for a picture is actually his reflection in the mirror. When he realizes how miserable and sad he is, he grows more discouraged and unhappy.

But, with the help of the ever-positive Maurice, he learns that he can use positive actions to improve his happiness and cultivate a positive self-image

To be a positive influence in your students' lives, you can strive to be like Maurice by helping them develop a healthy self-image through the following approaches:

  • Teaching them to embrace their unique physical features, such as freckles, distinctive birthmarks, or textured hair, and help them recognize that beauty comes in diverse forms.

Ensure that your students understand that they can appreciate all forms of beauty without feeling inferior or comparing themselves unfavorably to others.

  • Recognize and acknowledge their strengths and achievements in various areas of interest, whether it be sports, art, or any other field, while also encouraging them to practice humility and gratitude. 

Additionally, guide your students to view areas where they need improvement as opportunities for learning and growth rather than as shortcomings or failures.

  • Bring the family into the conversation by introducing parents and students to the Family Kit, a program that can be doled out in 15-minute sessions, which educates parents on how they can integrate positive actions within the home environment.

As a result, they will be equipped with the necessary tools to cultivate meaningful and mutually supportive relationships based on trust, respect, and genuine connection.

Developing skills for a realistic and positive self-view from an early age, empowers students with confidence, self-acceptance, and a strong sense of personal worth, contributing to academic achievement and future success in their community roles.

Jason G. was a graduation speaker for his sixth grade class last June in Lemon Grove, California. Here are Jason’s own words:

Fourth grade is where I changed my life around. I felt like I wasn’t being threatened. I felt safe. I made new friends. I realized I’m great at science, math, and of course, PE. By sixth grade, I was the Positive Action Sumo and I took the lead in different activities like reading groups and motivating my class at PE.

Did You Know? The social comparison theory suggests that individuals gauge their own worth by assessing themselves against other people.

2 - Foster Positive Self-Concept Through Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy can play a crucial role in improving your students' self-concept by providing a supportive and therapeutic environment for exploring and addressing underlying issues that may impact their self-perception.

Not utilizing an effective guidance and counseling program to help your students identify and challenge negative beliefs about themselves that may contribute to a negative self-concept can ultimately trigger many feelings and behaviors, including:

Positive Action offers a reliable and efficient counseling program that can be implemented school-wide and is appropriate for schools with or without guidance counselors or mental health practitioners.

Instead of solely focusing on the outcomes of a negative self-concept, like many school counseling programs, the Positive Action model aims to improve the overarching school climate to foster positive actions as the norm in your learning environment.

The Counselor Kit is an all-in-one resource that offers intensive and comprehensive support for classrooms, small groups, individuals, large groups, and families. 

Positive Action's Councelor Kit

It includes a manual that contains activities and lessons designed to build upon concepts students learn in the classroom. Also, it acts as a topical guide for addressing specific issues such as substance abuse, violence, and anger management.

For example, to help a student who has experienced a traumatic event such as bullying, feel comfortable sharing their experiences and emotions, a counselor can use the Positive Action counseling manual to create a safe and supportive therapeutic environment.

Consequently, they will foster a trusting relationship with the student, who will be encouraged to continue to attend the psychotherapy sessions because they feel validated and understood.

As a result, the student can heal from the bullying experience and cultivate a stronger self-image, further strengthening their self-concept.

Action: Encourage open communication between students, parents, and teachers to ensure a holistic approach to addressing underlying issues affecting self-perception.

3 - Practice Attachment Parenting

Did you know that children start developing their self-concept from birth?

Therefore, parents are the biggest players in laying a solid foundation for a positive self-concept in children that will enable them to internalize positive actions such as humility, responsibility, and self-esteem more readily.

According to an article published by Taylor & Francis Online, a parent’s attachment style or level of interest towards a child can influence their self-concept development.

For instance, when a mother is emotionally available and responsive to their child’s needs, she provides them with consistent emotional support, validation, and affirmation that the child internalizes.

As a result, the child grows up with a sense of worthiness and positive beliefs, feeling seen, understood, and accepted, which nurtures a healthy concept.

Positive Action recognizes the benefits of parental involvement in a student's academic life.

For this reason, we have curated an evidence-based Parenting Classes Kit that contains an instructor’s manual and a Family Kit. These resources guide parents on effectively leading their families effectively by implementing positive actions in the home.

Positive Action's Parenting Classes Kit

When parents implement the practices learned from these seven, one-hour classes in their home, they naturally develop an attachment parenting style that nurtures a strong emotional bond and secure attachment between them and their children.

Bonus Tip: Create daily rituals, such as bedtime stories or shared meals, to strengthen the parent-child bond and promote a sense of security and belonging.

4 - Foster Accountability for Actions

Children and youth have a strong desire to feel valued and important.

They want to demonstrate their capability and responsibility in fulfilling their obligations. Accordingly, one of the most valuable skills you can impart on your students is empowering them to be accountable for their actions.

One of the projects included in our High School 3 Kit is an excellent example of how you can foster a sense of accountability in your students.

Positive Action's High School 3 Kit

The project prompts them to organize a volunteer community service initiative, to showcase their understanding of the importance of treating others with kindness and empathy. 

It is important that you trust your students to handle most aspects of this project independently so that they can grasp the importance of following through on commitments and taking ownership of their actions. 

With your guidance, they can brainstorm ideas for making a positive impact on the community. In this case, they decide to visit a local care home and provide the residents with entertainment. 

You students immediately start dividing the responsibilities among themselves and creating a detailed plan of execution that outlines the tasks they need to complete, such as organizing transportation, gathering supplies, and coordinating the entertainment program.

Throughout the project, your students will demonstrate accountability by:

  • Fulfilling their assigned tasks and meeting deadlines
  • Attending regular team meetings to provide progress updates
  • Supporting one another to ensure smooth coordination
  • Facing challenges head-on by brainstorming solutions and taking necessary actions to overcome them

By actively engaging in the project, your students develop a sense of competence and acquire new skills including teamwork, leadership, and effective communication. 

Moreover, they get to witness firsthand how their actions can bring joy and support to those in need, which boosts their self-worth and self-esteem.

5 - Emphasize Setting Realistic Goals

Sometimes, children can have a wild imagination, and while this is essential for their creativity, it might lead them to develop unrealistic expectations for themselves that will do them more harm than good.

Accordingly, it’s your responsibility as their teacher to educate them on how they can manage their expectations and set goals that are attainable and within reach for them. 

When they set realistic goals and work towards accomplishing them, they are more likely to experience a sense of achievement

This sense of accomplishment positively influences their self-concept by reinforcing the belief that they are capable individuals who can set and achieve meaningful goals.

Additionally, realistic goals provide students with a clear path and a sense of direction. They can see the progress they are making, which fuels their motivation to continue working towards their goals. 

As a result, they are more likely to persevere and remain resilient, even when faced with obstacles or setbacks.

Positive Action’s Grade 5 Kit teaches children how to set realistic long-term and short-term goals through two scenarios: the story of a child of immigrants and polio victim, Itzhak Perlman, and a time machine and rocket that takes students to various time periods.

Positive Action's Grade 5 Kit

In the first scenario, students understand the power of setting realistic goals and committing to diligent practice, and how it can lead to significant achievements. 

By sharing Itzhak Perlman's story with your students, they will learn that success is not solely determined by talent or circumstances, but by consistent effort and practice.

In the second scenario, you add an element of fun and imagination to the learning experience by using a time machine and a rocket to transport students to different time periods. 

Once you take them back in time, engage them in activities that challenge them to think about their present state, and their potential for growth. Encourage them to envision their future selves and set realistic goals accordingly.

By immersing themselves in these scenarios, your students will take away:

  • A deeper understanding of goal-setting, clear expectations, and personal growth
  • The importance of setting realistic goals, committing to effort and practice, and embracing incremental progress, as these are essential components of improving their physical, mental, and emotional well-being
  • The necessary skills they need to set clear expectations by defining specific, measurable goals that align with their aspirations and values

6 - Persuade Children and Youth to Praise Themselves

Self-praise relieves a person of the need to wait for compliments or approval from others and promotes the idea that it is acceptable to feel good about oneself.

You should aim to teach children and youth the importance of self-reflection by regularly setting aside time for them to evaluate their own actions and efforts. 

Prompt them to identify things they did well or areas where they improved, and encourage them to give themselves compliments for their hard work, determination, and achievements.

For instance, in the Grade 7 Kit, students apply a scientific method of hypothesis, method, results, and conclusion to study themselves and develop critical thinking skills. 

Positive Action's Grade 7 Kit

This scientific approach fosters objectivity in self-evaluation and helps students differentiate between genuine self-praise based on evidence and mere bragging.

Their work as self-concept scientists informs them about their three “I’s”—identity, image, and impression. They learn that identity represents their true selves, the image refers to how they sometimes try to present themselves, and the impression pertains to how others perceive them. 

When you teach them these three critical aspects, students gain insight into their self-concept and how it relates to their interactions with others, ultimately leading them to become individuals with integrity and authenticity.

Lastly, you will prompt your students to write a report based on their self-assessment and data analysis, allowing them to articulate their thoughts, feelings, and observations.

The Thoughts-Actions-Feelings circle can help students understand the concept of self praise better.

Here is a brief explainer of how the circle works:

Writing a report helps them to communicate their findings effectively and express their self-praise in a thoughtful and balanced manner. 

This promotes self-awareness, self-expression, and the ability to differentiate between healthy self-praise and bragging.

Take Steps to Shape the Self-Concepts of Your Students

Success in life, including academic achievement, is determined by how a child or youth feels about themselves rather than by abilities or talent. 

Students who achieve success in academics and life, in general, know their worth and understand their importance.

Moreover, students with healthy self-concepts are more resilient and better equipped to resist peer pressure. They are less likely to engage in unacceptable social behaviors, including substance abuse, violence, and bullying.

Nonetheless, the most effective strategy for fostering a positive self-concept among youth and children is instilling Character Education values both at home and at school. 

Positive Action programs offer actionable and evidence-based curricula for educators and parents, equipping them with concentrated and practical resources to nurture a positive self-concept in children.

Kim Loop, the In–Home Care Supervisor for the Lake County Trial Court in Baldwin, Michigan, recently shared a remarkable experience she has had with Positive Action so far this year:

Kim was making a home visit when the children got home from school. One of the children was bursting with excitement and began to pull Positive Action activity sheets out of his backpack. He explained to his mother what positive actions were and how he could choose positive actions in his life and how they could choose positive actions in their family.

To set your students on the right path toward academic achievement and success in their future endeavors, schedule a 30-minute overview webinar with us by emailing us at info@positiveaction.net

During the webinar, we will discuss content, program models, kits, and research, and address any questions you may have. 

Some of our elementary school kits include: