In her book, Self-esteem Games, Occupational Therapist Barbara Sher features games that you can play with your child to help him:
- appreciate and accept himself as a unique individual
- understand himself by being able to name and notice his emotions, and
- share about himself, so that he may experience the joy of being understood
All three, are important aspects of building a positive self-esteem, which is especially vital for a child with special needs. They help him to focus on his strengths, cope with negative feelings, and not fear being rejected or misunderstood. This leads to greater involvement in a group and increases opportunities to learn and challenge oneself to achieve more.
In her book, she suggests the following game that you can play with your child and his siblings, cousins, friends, or classmates.
- Goal: Help your child appreciate and accept himself
- Benefit: Help your child learn about his strengths
- Materials: Crayons, large pieces of paper such as mahjong paper
- Build up excitement by setting aside a day each week or month to play this game. For example, every Sunday for a family or every public holiday for extended families.
- Choose a person to receive special privileges as Pal-of-the-Day. For example, place all the family members’ names in a bag and randomly draw out one to be the chosen person or roster from oldest among the cousins to the youngest.
- The Pal-of-the Day gets to chose what he likes to do, and everyone does the same, without complaining. It could be eating ice-cream, singing songs, or going to the beach.
- The Pal-of-the Day gets his ‘portrait’ drawn by lying on the floor/bed or standing next to a wall (whatever is more convenient) to have his outline captured on a big piece of paper. If this is too difficult to achieve, outline his hands.
- Everyone colours within the outline, and writes friendly comments in it. Write about the Pal-of-the-Day’s strengths, activities enjoyed together, and dreams for his development and well-being.
- Present the ‘portrait’ to the Pal-of-the Day, as a memento of the special day set aside for him.
Self-esteem Games by Barbara Sher is available in Singapore’s Public Libraries.
Sher, B. (1998) Self-esteem Games -300 fun activities that make children feel good about themselves, Jossey-Bass, Wiley, San Francisco, USA, page 3-5 and 15
About the Author: The COH Resource Team comprises volunteers, content writers and experts, including psychologists, counsellors, educators and social service professionals.