Self-love for students: classroom activities about loving yourself first
School staff often model and teach acts of kindness to students – helping each other, using kind words, and being thoughtful to others. It’s also important to talk about the ways we can be kind to ourselves.
Self-compassion is defined as “giving ourselves the same kindness and care that we would give a good friend” (Dr. Kristen Neff). Self-love is defined as “a state of appreciation for oneself that grows from actions that support our physical, psychological, and spiritual growth” (Khoshaba, 2012). The terms self-compassion and self-love are often used interchangeably.
When your students (and you!) treat themselves with compassion or love, it can support their life satisfaction and overall well-being. Building a self-compassion practise can also support students in extending compassion and kindness to others.
February is a fitting time to discuss self-compassion and self-love because it can be connected to Valentine’s Day. But students (and you) can benefit from a focus on self-compassion and love all year round.
Simple resources and activities to help students practise self-compassion
By introducing students to self-love and compassion, you can help them recognize that they (like you) are worthy of their own care. Here are some ideas to try:
Affirmations are kind and positive words we say to ourselves. They’re an example of a thought-changing practise that can support stress management and coping. Extensive evidence shows the relationship between thoughts, feelings, and actions. Practising using positive thoughts can influence students’ emotions and behaviours in helpful ways.
Invite your students to come up with affirmations. Here are some resources to help:
- Four-finger affirmation practice in Everyday Mental Health Classroom Resource – elementary
- Four-finger affirmation practice in Faith and Wellness: A Daily Mental Health Resource – elementary
- Four-finger affirmation elementary classroom poster
- Positive affirmations practice in Everyday Mental Health Classroom Resource – secondary
- Positive affirmations practice in Faith and Wellness: A Daily Mental Health Resource – secondary
- Four-finger affirmation secondary classroom poster
Self-love practices for Black youth
For Black students, self-love might look like distancing themselves from unhealthy or unsafe spaces. This bundle of social media graphics includes tips and suggestions developed based on ideas shared by student participants in our Black Students Mental Health Consultation.
Be there for yourself – by Jack.org
Like school staff, many students give a lot to support their friends. It’s important they also take care of themselves. Jack.org offers some tips on how students can be there for themselves. One way students can show themselves love is by making time for things they enjoy. Encourage students to reflect on the activities that make them feel happy.
Sweetest Kulu by Celina Kalluk read aloud
Books are a great entry point to explore different topics. The book Sweetest Kulu by Inuit author Celina Kalluk reminds students of the beautiful gifts they’re all born with. Seeing and celebrating our strengths is another form of self-love.
Remember to have compassion for yourself, too
Reminding students about the importance of self-compassion and love is a small thing you can do that can have a life-long impact. By keeping self-love in mind for your students, you may also be more likely to give it to yourself. For ideas to support how you care for yourself, see our personal resiliency tip sheet.