The Importance of a Positive Self-Image
Last week, there was a student that came in after recess and looked visible distraught. I motioned for him to come over to my desk and proceeded to ask him if everything was alright. At the drop of a dime, he started to cry. I took him out into the hall and let him tell me what was going on. He talked about how he got bullied during recess and the most hurtful comments were the ones directed at his weight.
This whole situation was very alarming for me, for a few reasons. This was one of the first experiences I had on the teacher’s side of bullying; that of counseling a student that was negatively impacted by their peers. This put bullying into the forefront for me as a teacher, especially as I reflected on some of the bullying I experienced at the same age as this student. Alternatively, the idea that comments about this student’s weight were more harmful than those directed at his character left me with a few questions.
Self-image may consist of three types:
- Self-image resulting from how the individual sees himself or herself.
- Self-image resulting from how others see the individual.
- Self-image resulting from how the individual perceives others see him or her.
Fostering a positive self-image is an important thing for everyone, students included. We need to realize that the negative things that people say about us should not be internalized, potentially replacing the positive aspects of our character. What that being said, I created an activity that centered around fostering a positive self-image and disregarding the negative things being said about us.
The activity started with a brief conversation about self-image, targeting areas such as what creates a positive self-image and why it is important. Each student then received a handout that looked like this:
Each student was instructed to write any negative comments about themselves that they’ve been told. Some of these comments included words like “gross”, “ugly”, “stupid”, and “gay”. Next, students were told to write the positive aspects of themselves that they cherish. After a few minutes, students then cut along the outline of the person, removing all of the negative comments said about them. I placed the recycling bin in the middle of the classroom and students were allowed to rip up and throw away these nasty words. Students were left with a “positive self-image portrait” that outlined all the characteristics that truly have an impact on our lives, which is often clouded with all of the negativity present around us.
Here are just a few of the final products my students produced:
The activity concluded with a video by Soul Pancake centered around the importance of giving compliments rather than spewing hate. This video definitely resonated with students, leaving a few in tears (happy ones of course)!
We can never truly know the impact that our words can have, positive or negative. But we must always strive to spread love rather than hate.