Building Self-Esteem With Worksheets and Activities

Children with learning disabilities often suffer from poor self-image

Mother kissing son at table outdoors
Image Source/Zero Creatives/Image Source/Getty Images

Parents hear a lot about the importance of building their children's self-esteem, especially if their child has learning disabilities. Certainly, just loving your child goes a long way in this process. Yet there are also ways you can specifically promote your child's self-esteem. Let's take a look at how.

Learning Disabilities and Self-Esteem

Children with learning disabilities often struggle to build self-esteem, but family values, worksheets, and other activities can give them the confidence boost they sorely need.

And once they've had that confidence boost, it's even easier to improve their self-esteem in other ways. Self-esteem is important for all children, but youth with learning disabilities notoriously struggle in this area because of the unique challenges they face.

Students with learning disabilities tend to have difficulty in school and can benefit from forming a healthy sense of identity with the help of their families. Both helping these children set personal goals and developing an awareness of family values are good ways for parents to help special needs youth build self-confidence.

Family Relationships and Self-Esteem

For children with or without learning disabilities, family relationships play a large role in self-esteem. Children who find their parents supportive develop healthier self-esteem than those who consider their parents controlling and unsupportive. Learning disabilities, when present, affect not only the child but the way the family functions in general.

Families who show concern for each other and who are willing to negotiate and solve problems together, support the healthy development of self-esteem in all members.

Identifying Family Values

Every family has a set of values, but not every family discusses them openly. Parents may demonstrate that they value work and professionalism by attending work faithfully and working on their professional development, but many do not necessarily sit down and discuss this with their children.

Discussing family values can help parents and their special needs children (as well as others) develop a firm foundation of family identity. This foundation can contribute to an overall healthy sense of self-esteem for children with learning disabilities.

Discussing Family Values

To initiate the conversation about family values, arrange a time for your family to get together to discuss the principles you hold dear. Consider your family's personality when planning how to use this time.

Some families choose a formal family meeting structure to have these conversations. There are benefits to regular family meetings that include more than just self-esteem. It's helpful to take a moment prior to the meeting and discuss the goals of your meeting with your spouse and any other adults who will be present. Just as with a board meeting for a large corporation, it's important to designate one person to lead the discussion. This person can make sure to address what's meant to be addressed during the meeting, and gently bring the conversation around when it goes off-track. He or she should also make sure that each person present has an opportunity to share their thoughts. That said, flexibility is important, and some of the best moments of a family meeting are often those that aren't planned.

If you haven't held family meetings before, check out some tips on how to hold a successful family meeting.

Other families prefer an informal gathering with snacks and board games. For children who are shy or reluctant to talk, an informal setting may be best, at least when you first begin to have these conversations. Interactive games are a very fun way to promote your child's self-esteem.

It can be helpful to ask leading questions, use a questionnaire, a worksheet with pictures or a worksheet of goals to spark discussion.

Self-Esteem Building Activities That Reinforce Family Values

Parents can do more than discuss their family values with special needs children.

Just as talking about exercise alone isn't sufficient to improve your physical fitness, improving your family fitness requires active family time.

One active family activity to improve family fitness is to create a Family Banner that depicts your family values. Alternatively, you could have each family member vote on a mascot to represent your family spirit and draw pictures of the family mascot to hang in your home.

In addition to these ideas, parents of children with learning disabilities might think about creating a family totem pole with images representing each family member as well as pets. Family mascots can also make great totem pole figures.

Special needs children may also benefit from family mottos. Parents can help their children develop a family motto and post it where all members can see it as they begin their day, similar to how students at certain academic institutions spot the school's motto when they walk inside. 

Collectively, fun activities like these can build and support your child's self-esteem, while strengthening your family's bonds at the same time. In addition to these activities, check out some of the habits which reinforce the parent-child bond.

Bottom Line on Choosing Activities to Build Your Child's Self-Esteem

Discussions of family values are a great way to not only build your child's self-esteem but promote a strong and healthy family life. Identifying your family values, having open discussions with the whole family, and participating in activities to strengthen these bonds will provide a solid base for a child coping with learning disabilities. If you are concerned about your child's self-esteem, you may wish to check out further ideas on how to build strong self-esteem in your child.


Emam, M., and U. Abu-Serei. Family Functioning Predictors of Self-Concept and Self-Esteem in Children at Risk for Learning Disabilities in Oman: Exclusion of Parent and Gender Contribution. International Education Studies. 2014. 7(10).