When it comes to self esteem, praise has a hierarchy…

The least effective praise is vague and delivered en masse. Specific praise works best and even better when delivered by an adult who knows the child well – this can really enhance a sense of self worth and self esteem. To evidence real success against criteria a child themselves have chosen, I have begun to use the Positive Attributes Activity. This tool, inspired by narrative approaches, can help to facilitate the initial 1:1 process of setting up a Positive Attributes Book, as detailed below.

In short:

  1. The child selects 3 / 4 / 5 positive attributes they would like to be described as.
  2. Take each word and write it at the top of a new page in a book.
  3. Positive events the child has undertaken that meet the attribute criteria can be documented over time. Further, future activities could be planned for with the child that enable them to show “kindness” or “generosity” etc. “How might we show initiative tomorrow?”

By documenting these successes against a criteria the child has “bought into”, the child has a strong evidence base showing them to be something they wish to be. This objective and repeated positive feedback can help to bolster the child’s sense of self worth, self esteem and identity. By allocating as little as ten minutes a day or a slightly longer period over a week, this book can be reviewed with the child with successes discussed often and plans made for future success providing motivation. Going forward, this will form the basis of a more positive self identity and may help the young person to act in line with this positive image into the future.

To help with this process, I have created the Positive Attribute Activity Tool to suggest words that you could use and provide definitions. Click the link to give it a go