I Did It! Self-esteem Building Through Goal Achievement

Goal achievement creates a profound sense of pride and self-esteem at any age, especially for children. It gives them the feeling of a “win” brought about by their own focus and determination, which helps foster a stronger sense of belief, courage, and confidence in themselves. This week, create small wins for your students, allowing them to identify what’s great about themselves. They will be able to identify these things even easier as they tackle tasks and develop the personal satisfaction that comes from achieving their goals.

Elementary Lesson


1. Break up the class into small groups of 3-4 students for a game called “Run Your Race!” with this accompanying worksheet.

2. Ask students to name three “trophies,” or things they do very well that they are proud of. There’s no limit to what they can name, and their trophies can be things they are good at in school, at home, with family, or good qualities they have in their friendships. 

3. Now, tell students to come up with a “hurdle” that will make them even stronger in their race. They will train and practice jumping over these hurdles through goal setting. These hurdles are things they need to work on or things they would like to improve about themselves or their tasks. They can pick any goal or hurdle they’d like to overcome as long as it is important to them. 

4. Have students write down their trophies and hurdles in their worksheet and share all three in their small groups. 

5. Reconvene for a larger group discussion, selecting students who would like to share one trophy and one hurdle. 

6. Ask the following reflection questions:

  • "Was it hard or easy to give yourself “trophies” and call out the things you’re good at?" 
  • "Was it hard or easy to name the “hurdles” and goals you want to accomplish?" 
  • "How will you feel when you accomplish that 'hurdle' and gain another 'trophy'?"

7. Remind students that this activity will help them come up with important goals and help them develop the self-confidence they need to succeed and discover what makes them great.

Secondary Lesson


1. Have students use this worksheet and several colored markers for this activity, called “Interest Mapping.”

3. Ask students to think about things they enjoy doing as hobbies or interests. They will write the names of these things (school subjects, sports, events, books, pastimes, etc.) in small circles in the first column labeled "What I Like to Do." 

4. Ask students to list things they are good at doing in small circles in the second column labeled "What I'm Good At." These can be things like character traits or something that they are naturally gifted to do. 

5. Ask students to draw lines connecting circles from the first column to the second column, where things they are interested in and things they are good at are similar or related. For example: “I LOVE Food—> I am really good at cooking.”

6. Based on these connections, assist students in creating relevant and meaningful goals. They will write these goals in the third column labeled "What My Goals Are" and share them with the class. For example: “I LOVE Food—> I am really good at cooking. —> My goal is to make dinner for my family one night per week, trying a new recipe." This activity will help your students learn more about themselves, a vital prerequisite to setting good goals.

Teacher Tips

Motivation to accomplish goals often comes alongside passion and interests, not (always) rewards. Remember this when engaging students, and encourage them to stay connected to what makes them special in the midst of their achievements. Rewards could be a short-term driver when you want to get your students to do something, but when you stop giving the rewards, they need the motivation to continue on their own in order to continue the positive behaviors. Inspirations, passion, sense of achievement are the long-term motivation that comes from within. Your support and encouragement as their teacher will help your students find their true passion, embrace their capabilities, and foster their own motivation for life.