What is self-esteem? Some of the answers I got in the classes this week were “It is the white smoke that you see when the kettle boils” and “It is when you have been running around a lot and you get very hot and sweaty”!
This week in Mindful Minis we looked at the 5th colour of the rainbow which is yellow. We explored the concept of self-esteem which is represented by the colour yellow. We discussed the big word “self-esteem” and broke down its meaning into how a person feels about themselves. We discussed how important it is to feel good about ourselves, and to be proud of ourselves and what we do.
We chatted about the different things that the children are good at doing. Some mentioned that they excel at artwork and colouring-in. Others mentioned that they are good at acting. Some mentioned they can run really fast, even faster than a Peregrine Falcon! Some mentioned that they can swim really well. Once little girl mentioned that she is really good at finding bugs – a real, little nature detective! It was wonderful to see the proud smiles when they told me all the things they are good at doing.
I introduced the children to “Trash Talk” versus “Treasure Talk”. I explained that when you say nasty, mean things to another person, that is “Trash Talk” and it is hurtful, but when you say something nice and kind to someone else, that is “Treasure Talk” and it is almost like you are giving them a gold coin for their treasure chest which makes them feel happy. We chatted about some of the trash talk that the children in the class had heard other children say, some of which had been said directly to them. We also chatted a bit about some of the trash talk that they might have said to other children. There was no judgement and it was a very open and honest discussion where the children could think about some of the things they might have said to others.
I then introduced my friend, Joe, to the class. Joe is a large paper-doll cut-out that was stuck on the wall. The children helped me “dress” Joe by choosing what colours his shorts and t-shirt should be. They helped me decide his hair colour and whether it should be curly or straight, and they helped me decide on a few other physical features to make Joe more life-like. I then asked them one-by-one to come up and introduce themselves to Joe. I asked them to give Joe a treasure talk and then a trash talk. After the trash talk, I asked them to rip off a piece of Joe. We went around the group and each child got a turn to rip (which they loved!!) until there was nothing left of Joe but a heap of torn scraps of paper.
I then asked them to put Jo back together. They tried and there was much talk of glue, sticky tape and double-sided tape! I explained that even if we could stick Joe back together, that he would not be the same since he would have scars where we had torn him and those could not be fix. I explained that in the same way, when we use trash talk in speaking to another person, we break them inside. And even if the other person says it doesn’t matter and they seem fine, there are still the scars and those never go away. They last a lifetime. The kids seemed to really take in the lesson. It was a very powerful message to all who participated in it. It showed the kids in a very concrete manner how destructive trash talk behaviour can be.
I then led the children in a guided visualisation about walking through a forest to find a beautiful castle with walls encrusted with jewels. During their walk through the forest, I asked them to pay attention to the sights, smells and sounds around them. As they entered the castle, they found a beautiful hand-held mirror on a table. I asked them to notice how they felt as they reached out to pick up the mirror. Did they feel nervous and worried, or very excited and curious? I then explained that this was a magical mirror. I suggested that as they gazed into the mirror, it showed them all the things about themselves that that are proud of. I suggested that for some, it might show them being kind and caring to another child. Or maybe it showed them helping someone who had fallen. Or maybe it showed them running very fast in a race and winning the race. I asked them to think about the things that they are proud of about themselves. I explained that these are the things that can be seen in the magical mirror.
I also asked them to notice how they felt as the seeds of confidence and personal power were placed in their hearts as they looked into the magical mirror. I suggested that, as these seeds grow, they will help the children to feel good about themselves. That the seeds will help the children to see all the things they are good at. That the seeds will help the kids to feel proud of themselves and who they are.
I reminded the children that if they are ever feeling a bit sad and disappointed when they don’t do something well, that they can remember the magic mirror. In their minds, they can imagine themselves walking to the beautiful castle and finding the magic mirror. And as they look into the mirror, it will always help them to remember the things that they are good at and it will help them to feel proud and confident again.
We then said our powerful Mindful Minis Mantra:
• I am kind
• I am calm
• I am healthy and strong
• I am important
And finally, we ended off with some artwork where the children decorated their own magical mirrors and drew the things that they feel proud of about themselves.
This was a very special lesson and a great space for the kids to explore their feelings about themselves. It is so important for children to have a healthy, positive self-image. This lesson also encouraged the children to think about using kindness and compassion to help others build up their self-esteem. A powerful message for all.