Here’s an activity for social skills or self-esteem groups, or simply for building trust and rapport amongst group members. All you need are some clothespins and some thin, permanent markers of varying colours. This activity will probably work best after a session or two, as group members should at least know each other a little bit and be comfortable enough to give feedback to one another. Preteens or teens will handle this activity better than younger children.
Each group member gets a clothespin for each person in the group, minus themselves. For example, if there are 10 people in group, each member gets 9 clothespins. Each member of the group writes a word or a short phrase on each clothespin, one for each of the other members. Some examples might be “funny,” “caring,” stylish, etc.
The words should be positive an affirming, and accurate based on that person’s interactions with the other members. Each child will take turns receiving the feedback from the other members. They can sit or stand while the other participants share their compliment and “pin” the praise onto the other person. If the child receiving the compliment has difficulties with touch and personal space, he can accept the clothespin and pin it on himself.
Kids will learn the skills of complimenting others, which is valuable in making and building friendship. They will also build self-esteem as a result of hearing the affirmations from others. They can take their clothespins home as a reminder of their positive qualities. If it fits with the type of group you are running, you can also teach about challenging negative self-talk. Kids can use the content of their clothespins to challenge their own negative thoughts about themselves.
Happy pinning to you and your group!