I am required to run a six-week therapy group for Grade 4 kids with low self-esteem. They are all learning-disabled children. I have never done this before and am looking for help regarding material that would be useful. I would appreciate hearing from those of you who have any ideas regarding resources.
There is a great resource for self esteem located at www.ashland.com Enter "self esteem" in the search box and click on "Recipes for Self Esteem".
One of the most helpful ways of building self-esteem, especially with kids who have some disability, is to get your team consciously and constantly to reflect back to them the impressions they make and have made on you — I see you've chosen to wear a yellow dress this morning; I know you don't like these hard pencils; You draw such interesting leaves; You've picked a nice sunny spot to sit ...
Avoid any evaluative or approval/disapproval aspects, just use descriptive and objective observations. It is enough to affirm their personal and geographical presence — so much low self-esteem comes from not being noticed, making no impression on those around us.
This subject is close to home for me being the parent of a grade four son. First of all I am so glad you are doing this as I see many children who would benefit from this type of group.
For my first practicum (Child and Youth Care degree, Year 2, at Malaspina University in Nanaimo) I co-facilitated a social skills group for elementary boys. What worked out best in our program was that the boys had direct involvement in planning. We asked them what they wanted to do and built our activities around their interests. We asked them each to pick a craft, game or snack for each day and supported them to put together and direct it — for example, serving their snack, giving directions for their game or telling us how to make the craft. These children had some very cool ideas and were very much involved. This also supported their relationships with each other and facilitated group connection.
I especially liked one activity where the children outlined each other and interviewed the person they had drawn about their favourite things. We started each session with snack after school and a check-in with a magic shell for a 'talking stick' to signify who the speaker was. Each child had time to tell about their week or pass if they liked.
We went outside sometimes with bubbles, chalk or cars and encouraged and modeled positive healthy communication and how to talk about feelings. We played guessing games about feelings with faces on cards and gave ideas why we thought this person might feel this way. It was a great experience and the boys taught me a lot. They showed me how very much children are capable of planning their own fun. We just need to give them the chance ... They have the best ideas.
Groups are interesting but the label to the group is just that for political reasons. It is what the group needs as I mean a mutual agreement to find a way for them to help themselves. We as group leaders or facilitators guide the group to help each other as they are the clients. They can choose to invest in the group and make gains in the self esteem group. I would ask the group what they want out of it. If it is mandatory then what structure will you put in place. Remember that we don't always have to follow a book or criteria as it makes it so fake.
I'm not sure of your clients' mental level but I found improve acting to be a great tool to use. There are some great books that show games you can play using improve. I used this for a self-esteem group with grade 6, 7, and 8 and it was a great tool that worked.
One way to promote positive self esteem in learning disabled children (as well as all children) is to use activities such as sports, games, music, art, drama, service, crafts, cooking — to help them develop interests and skills, and perhaps discover hidden talents. There are many accounts of learning disabled children who, when exposed to activities, discovered one with which they resonated — often art or sports — and continued to develop. The result often was an increase in school achievement. Such activities not only increase self esteem, but also provide the children with positive ways to connect with others — through a common interest. So, any resources on selecting and designing activities for children could be useful.
Hi all. Just a short note to say thanks to those you responded with advice and info regarding the self-esteem groups that I will be running.