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How Can I Improve Self-Esteem at School?

To improve self-esteem at school, it's important to silence your inner critic and ignore criticism from others, use positive affirmations, recognize your success and engage in activities that make you happy. Your teachers and counselors — and even your peers — also can help you improve self-esteem at school. If having self-esteem has been a problem for you, understand that building self-esteem is a process, and it might not happen immediately.

Self-esteem is defined as a person’s image of himself or herself that is shaped by the way other people treat and think of him or her. It is also known as self-respect. Self-esteem can change as the person evolves or develops. Children, adolescents and teens at school are most vulnerable to low self-esteem because they still are developing their self-esteem and are in the process of discovering whom they really are. This is why it’s important to build one’s self-esteem in school, because there are so many factors that can influence self-esteem, and so much of the child’s time is spent in school.

To develop self-esteem, the child has to begin by silencing the inner critic. Children who have low self-esteem often berate themselves and judge themselves more critically than others. Criticism or teasing from others can lower one's self esteem and should be ignored. These forms of negativity are counterproductive to building self-esteem at school.

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This negative train of thought can be stopped by replacing these thoughts with positive affirmation. Find something that you feel good about, and dwell on that. It can be a skill that you are good at, a physical attribute, your innate kindness or even a strong belief in your own spirituality.

Positive affirmation from teachers, counselors and peers can really help because it gives the individual a mirror of something that he or she might not see. Teachers also can help by teaching students about self-esteem at school and by looking for and stopping any actions by students that might cause low self-esteem in others. Students who have low self-esteem should have a place where they feel safe and can talk about their problems. Giving praise when deserved also goes a long way.

Another way to improve self-esteem at school is to engage in activities that bring you joy. Join clubs or teams that naturally bring out skills. If there are no clubs or social groups at school for you, you might find some outside of school. It can be something at a church, a community volunteer center, a local sports league or some other extracurricular activity. Finding an activity that brings you pleasure and fulfillment will develop high self-esteem because it allows you to focus on something that you like rather than something that you don't.

Learn to set manageable and realistic goals so that each step toward it can be measurable. At each step of the process, take pride in your achievement — every person should learn to affirm his or her own success. Take pride in small achievements, whether it’s getting a good grade on a pop quiz, figuring out the answer to a tricky math problem or another type of success.

To develop self-esteem at school, it can help to look outside yourself and look toward others. Helping someone in need at school can help you build your own self-esteem and self-respect because it gives you a sense of worth and validates that you can make a difference and that your work and contribution matters. This can be as easy as helping someone with a tricky subject, offering to tutor a classmate, mentoring a younger student or organizing an activity at school for the benefit of others.

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