Empowering Children Activities

Child reading with father before bed.
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Empowering activities for children build self-esteem and provide character-building skills that are the foundation for future success. You can incorporate creative and fun exercises throughout the class day that merge academic subject matter with these life-skill fundamentals. Empowering children from an early age motivates them to dream big, accomplish goals and build solid relationships.

1 Reflect on Talents and Skills

Help children become more self-aware by providing activities that showcase their special gifts. One simple empowerment activity is to ask students to write their names, vertically, on a piece of paper. Have them think of a word that corresponds to each letter of their name. For example, Sam might write scientific, artistic and motivated. Continue the activity by having students write a short story that explains the words they used. Encourage them to discuss how they make a difference in the classroom and what they hope to accomplish. Having students read their stories to the group promotes ownership of these talents and positive characteristics.

2 Facilitate Positive Reinforcement

Children seek affirmation from adults and peers. Simple empowerment activities can be effective in providing this needed positive feedback and acceptance. Try, for example, this activity, which begins by giving students enough sticky notes for each student in the group. Ask them to write positive statements about their classmates. Have them stick the notes on the back of each corresponding student. Ask students to read the notes aloud to the group. Facilitate a discussion about the importance of positive recognition. Ask students whether any of the messages were surprising and how it felt to hear kind words from their peers. Students can be encouraged to save the notes and read them when they have a bad day or feel down.

3 Read for Inspiration

Children can learn to recognize the traits needed to overcome adversity through literature that models resilience. Introduce students to books that feature characters who triumph over tragedy. Students select characters who overcome obstacles and identify the skills the character used to succeed. Have them write a paper that compares the character's experiences with their own. Encourage them to discuss what they admire about the character and how they’ve used similar skills in their own lives.

4 Share Success

It’s difficult for children to recognize what they’ve accomplished and how they positively affect others. One way to emphasize accomplishment is to facilitate a brag session, and positive energy will fill the room. Students may focus on areas such as getting along with their siblings, academic success, helping at home or athletic accomplishment. Partner participants and ask them to share something they’ve accomplished in the past month. Give them five minutes each to share and ask them to swap partners. Repeat the activity until participants have shared their success with five other people. Discuss the importance of speaking aloud about achievements.

Dr. Kelly Meier earned her doctorate from Minnesota State Mankato in Educational Leadership. She is the author and co-author of 12 books and serves as a consultant in K-12 and higher education. Dr. Meier is is a regular contributor for The Equity Network and has worked in education for more than 30 years. She has numerous publications with Talico, Inc., DynaTEAM Consulting, Inc. and Kinect Education Group.