The self-esteem of K-12 students plays a role in their academic performance and social interactions. Unfortunately, according to the American Psychological Association, self-esteem is lowest among young adults. Teachers can help boost self-esteem by implementing strategies that make students feel valued and capable. 

Include a variety of students in activities 

Teachers should consider including students who are shy or have low self-esteem in activities. These students may feel better when they’re part of a team and not singled out as “the smart one” or “the shy one.” Teachers should also refrain from embarrassing or making fun of any student, regardless of their academic skills. This includes both physical appearances (e.g., glasses) and non-physical qualities (e.g., shyness). 

Give students a chance to lead 

Teachers can encourage confidence by giving opportunities for students to share their ideas with the class and lead a small group activity. Students should be encouraged to share their ideas in class, but they should also be allowed to do their own work. 

Provide constructive criticism 

You can give constructive criticism in a private setting, and you should always include suggestions on how the student can improve. Whenever possible, praise their positive traits and efforts. 

Try to use positive reinforcement to build up your student’s self-esteem. For example: 

  • If a student is working hard on an assignment, point out that he or she has made progress and is doing well. 
  • When students are having difficulty with a particular subject or skill set, help them find strategies for success—for example, teach them how to break down large tasks into smaller ones so they feel successful every day as they work toward their goal. This will also boost their self-esteem as they make progress toward completing larger tasks over time. 

Encourage physical activity 

  • Exercise can help reduce stress, which is a major cause of low self-esteem. 
  • Exercise helps improve self-esteem through physical activity and exercise releases endorphins that make you feel good about yourself. 
  • Regular exercise can help improve confidence in your ability to accomplish things. 
  • Being active helps teenagers get enough sleep, which in turn will improve memory, concentration and mood (and thus their self-esteem). 

When assigning group work, let students choose their groups 

When assigning group work, let students choose their groups. This allows them to be a part of an environment that makes them feel more comfortable and gives them an opportunity to form relationships with like-minded people. 

Students can choose the groups they feel the most confident in, or those that will help them learn more about a topic. They may also want to create a group with people who are like them (such as having all boys or all girls) or different from them (like having two girls, three guys). This allows students to work on projects together and feel comfortable in an environment where everyone gets along rather than being forced into something they don’t enjoy. 

Use open-ended questions 

When you ask students to respond to open-ended questions, they are asked to think about a topic at a deeper level and provide more than one-word responses. This strategy gives each student an opportunity to express themselves and feel valued. 

The following are some examples of open-ended questions: 

  • How do you feel about this? 
  • What do you think about this? 
  • How would you describe this situation/problem? 

Have realistic expectations 

It’s important for teachers to have realistic expectations for their students. They should set clear goals and standards for learning, but also give students space to try new things and explore different interests. If a student isn’t meeting the teacher’s expectations, it’s important to provide constructive feedback so that they can learn from their mistakes. Teachers shouldn’t be afraid of failure; instead, they should focus on encouraging risk-taking and experimentation in order to boost self-esteem over time. 

How Netsweeper can help you identify students with low self-esteem 

onGuard protects students proactively by monitoring, detecting, and alerting administrators to activity that indicates a potential risk to their student’s wellbeing. onGuard uses active system monitoring including optical character recognition to identify harmful student activity and then trigger an alert.  

What we hope you’ve learned from reading this blog post is that boosting your students’ self-esteem isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. It’s something that needs to be done on an individual basis, and it’s important for teachers to understand each student’s unique personality and needs before making any assumptions about what will help them feel better about themselves. The most important thing is recognizing when something isn’t working, then finding another way to approach the problem.