Feeling good about me was something I sought for my patients to achieve. Through a game that was developed by Michael R Sheehan, PhD, called The Self-Esteem Game we did achieve it. The first time I played it in my play therapy office with various children, we sang and danced as directed in the game, however, shyly. Sometimes we even used the cardboard game pieces to do the dancing for us. Then we caught on. While we generally sang off key and had yet to find a true melody, we took our turns dancing creatively and belting out the words as if we meant them: “I feel good about me! I feel good about me! I feel good about me!” Sometimes we'd even add our own line, “And I…..feel good…about you…too!” There is nothing like ending a family play therapy session with the child leading the parents down the hallway still singing and dancing, “I feel good about me! I feel good about me! I feel good about me!” Many of my child clients feel bad about themselves. Impulsivity, procrastination, irritability, and poor listening get them in trouble much of every day. Some focus on how they dislike their physical appearance or the clothes they have to wear. (Really we are just trying to teach that others are valuable too, and that manners are important.) Messages from the media and from adults at home -- and school -- seem to drive the point home to some children that they are simply not good enough. Hopelessness sets in. Negative self-talk becomes a habit. And behaviors deteriorate. We were advised some years ago to look in the mirror and say, “I am beautiful.” This never worked too well for me as a teenager….or now for that matter! And it doesn’t work too well for any person who thinks and feels like a behavioral failure. The song quickly becomes, “I hate myself so much! I hate myself so much! I hate myself so much!” And the dance is heavy and dull. We do not want to impart the message that any single child is more important or better than others, but we certainly need for children to feel happy and competent so life can be fun and productive. So we can work to change the self-talk to more true statements. “I do my homework on most nights” or “I follow directions in the morning.” “I like my green eyes” is probably true and helps one feel more attractive. But little changes until these statements are heartfelt…danced…belted out…off-key even…with an uninhibited dance! Try it! Get a little positive hope going that you are good enough. As K.C. and The Sunshine Band sing, “Do a little dance!...Get down tonight!” Belt it out as you dance down the hallway! “I feel good about me! I feel good about me! I feel good about me!” Maybe your family will be inspired and hopeful and “Shake, Shake, Shake” with you! View other games and resources for self-esteem here
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