How to Build Self Esteem Through Active Play

When we talk about self-esteem – or how we value and perceive ourselves – we’re usually talking about poor esteem in teens and young adults. But, like most things, our self-esteem begins to form when we are very young. How we feel about ourselves in our early formative years has a significant influence on how we feel as we grow older.

Kids and Self Esteem

Kids have self-esteem just like the rest of us, which also means they can have poor or healthy self-esteem.

Kids with a healthy self-esteem may seem fearless at times. They are excited to try new things and go on adventures. They believe that they can accomplish tasks and actively look for challenges, like playing a sport.

Kids with a poor self-esteem are often afraid of new things and places, and seek comfort in things that are familiar. They regularly say they “can’t do that” when asked if they want to try something new and will give up on tasks easily. And, heartbreakingly, they have a difficult time believing they are liked by friends and family.

The good news is that there are lots of things we can do to help encourage healthy self-esteem in the kids in our lives, but one of the most effective tools we have may come as a bit of a surprise. Active play is a bigger participant and more effective than any praise, trophies, or good grades in gaining and maintaining a healthy self-esteem in kids.

Active play is so beneficial for kids in ways that may seem obvious – for example, being active is great for physical health, getting out of our comfort zones, and offering a change of pace – as well as ways that maybe aren’t so obvious.

How to build self esteem through active play

Kids learn so much about the world, their environment, themselves, and others all through active play. It’s helpful to think of your kid as a scientist and active play as their research laboratory. Active play offers the chance for kids to test boundaries and discover possibilities, like:

  • “How fast can I run?”
  • “How high can I bounce this ball?”
  • “Do I like to climb or would I prefer to jump rope?”
  • “How can I include my friends in this game?”

This is why it is the perfect tool to encourage healthy self-esteem!

Building Self Esteem

According to research, one of the best ways to encourage healthy self-esteem in our little scientists is to remember the three C’s: Connection, Competence, & Choice.

Connection refers to our relationships with friends and family. A big part of self-esteem is based on social interaction and your perception of what other people think of you. Active play is a perfect time to interact with other kids their age. Together, they become partners in their scientific research.

They also learn about themselves, what they like and don’t like, what they can and can’t do, and what their friends think of them. Knowing that their friends have fun when they play together and hearing a friend say, “Wow, you’re strong!” or “You come up with fun games!” can have a huge impact on self-esteem.

Competence has to do with how kids think about themself and their ability to perform tasks and accomplish goals. When kids recognize they can do things with little to no help from adults, they develop a deeper sense of belief in themselves and their abilities.

Kids Build Self Esteem at Urban Air Adventure Park Through Active Play

It’s easy to see how this affects self-esteem. Those with poor self-esteem who are faced with new and different challenges often panic or turn down the new opportunity because they don’t believe that they can accomplish it. But someone with a healthy self-esteem – or in this case, someone who knows they have succeeded in the past and therefore has a good chance of succeeding again – tends to see these challenges as opportunities. So what does this look like in kids? Scoring a goal! Learning a new skill! Sliding down the tallest, scariest slide!

Finally, kids need to have some level of choice. When kids get to make their own decisions – like which book to get from the library, getting cheese pizza vs pepperoni pizza, and which activity they want to try next – they can see how their choices impact their own lives. They learn that their opinion, thoughts, and decisions are important. And if you are able to have opinions, thoughts, and decisions that are important, it must mean that you, as a person, are important.

Confidence Building Activities for Kids at Urban Air

The best news is that you don’t have to do this all on your own. Urban Air has everything you need for a self-esteem-building day out together with plenty of connection, competence, assurance, and choice!

Call up their friends for a play date. Urban Air is the perfect place to get out of the house, meet up with some friends, and let your kids run and play in a safe and exhilarating environment. Watch them pretend to be flying superheroes on the Sky Rider, fearless adventurers on the Warrior Course, and basketball champions in the Slam Dunk Zone.

The Slam Dunk Zone is a Confidence Building Activity at Urban Air

Not to mention, Urban Air is a great place to host your next birthday party. We take care of the planning and hosting so you can be fully present on your little scientist’s special day and encourage active play with all of their friends.

There’s no better place to encourage a sense of competence. Urban Air has so many attractions to challenge balance, agility, and bravery. Approaching an attraction that seems a little scary at first and realizing that they are totally capable of completing the attraction can do wonders for their belief in themself and their abilities. Once our adventurers conquer an attraction, they are so excited to jump back up and go again! Watch as your kid celebrates themself and builds their self-esteem.

Choice is everywhere at Urban Air! It’s a kid’s domain. Fly high on our performance trampolines! Jump, twist, and flip down the tumble track! Reach new heights on the climbing wall! Which attraction will they choose to explore next?

Ready to help your kids build a healthy self-esteem through active play? Find your park to purchase tickets. If your kids thrive at Urban Air, our memberships make it easy and affordable to keep bringing them back.


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