Self Esteem in 7 Yr Old Son--finding His "Thing":wants to Play in the Dirt

Updated on October 26, 2011
J.W. asks from Billings, MT
28 answers

Just wondering it anyone has any advice on guiding my 7 year old to finding his passion or something he is good at to boost his self esteem. He isn't a soccer/ baseball/ sports kid. He is shy in new situations and prefers to play by himself or with one other person. He would be happiest if I left him alone to play in the dirt, build things, take apart things or play with his dads' tools. There just isn't a club out there for the "future builders of america" Does anyone have any advice on extra curricular activities that might help him find something he loves that will translate into something he can be proud of? I worry about low self esteem and him not liking himself. Thanks in advance.:)

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened?

I am a little hesitant about boy scounts in our area because there isn't a group at his school or church and it seems to be very centered on a specific church that holds meetings.....

Featured Answers


answers from Houston on

Home Depot has kids workshops for things like this. So do a lot of children's museums. I second Boy Scout or 4H club.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Sounds like he already has a passion. Go with it any way you can. Create a Club or Group and facilitate it!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

Why would he not like himself if he is doing what he likes? I would think forcing him to do things he doesn't like or he isn't good at, that are important only to you, would be far more damaging to his self esteem.

2 moms found this helpful

More Answers



answers from Raleigh on

What about Boy Scouts? They too love dirt, building things, and using tools! Sounds perfect!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

Hello future engineer! Loners are awesome. He sounds like an intelligent introvert. He does have something he's good at. He may not need a group to validate that he has these abilities.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

This sounds a lot like my son. Everyone who meets him says that he's going to be an inventor or engineer. (He is 9 and has Aspergers/ADHD)

Here is a long list of things we have done to support his interests: Take him to as many children's and science museums around the country as we can. Lowes and Home Depot kids workshops. Attend(and exhibit at) the Maker Faire when it was in our area. Visit history museums(get historical perspective on tools). Go on a variety of tours such as artist studios, gardens, backyard ponds, and factories. Check out kids books on inventions, materials, vehicles, nature, careers, farm technology, medicine and anything else I can think of. Playdates with other lego-loving kids. Build stuff with Grandpa in his garage. Attend university open houses to see robot and engineering demonstrations. Attend science fairs and lego robot demonstrations by older students. Enter art competitions. Watch tv and videos about science such as The way things work and How it's made. Use his love of machines to relate to other interests such as cooking, sewing, and ice skating. Have him help with home repair projects- and make a how to video of it. Buy science kits and other building toys. Have him help build his own workbench with his own tools. Buy pumps, pipes, and hoses to experiment with water. Build virtual widgets on the free part of Keep a notebook of the science experiments he does at home.

We did join scouts, but he often sits out when they're doing soccer, football, and other team sports. Even though scouts isn't perfect, it is a good opportunity for him to make friends with plenty of supervision.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

Evidently he likes palying in the dirt and with rocks, leaves dirt---so what is wrong with that???

Ask yourself that question many times over before developing an answer. He is 7, not 17 or 27.

Stop wanting your child to compete with another or develop into something he may not want to be or doing something he may not like to do. At 7 I hated to write and I could barely read, so who knew that one day many years later I would write a book and that it would be awarded one of the best in the world.

Let your children be CHILDREN not little adults with goals and aims. A child's goal is get their homework done and Handed in and to play, learn and play somemore while he/she develops a sense of self, individualism and idiosyncrancies.
Don't push, let him play!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

Scouts or FFA.....or both! Both clubs are geared toward being outside & exploring! My older son dropped out of Scouts at age 13. My younger son is 15 & working toward Eagle. Good experiences for both of them!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Boy Scouts. The fact that it is in a church should not be an issue. They
have to hold the meetings somewhere and the church was probably available. Scouts would be perfect for him. Sometimes you have to put
child first, and your feelings last.


Boy Scouts. The fact that it is in a church should not be an issue. They
have to hold the meetings somewhere and the church was probably available. Scouts would be perfect for him. Sometimes you have to put
child first, and your feelings last.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

Things do not make, a child have self-confidence or self-assurance.
It comes from, knowing yourself and being fine with that.

Your son has his own interests. It is his. He is his own person. If always compared to other kids/people, a child will not gain, self-assurance or confidence. It they are nurtured, to know themselves and their own talents and interests, then that way, they BECOME more self-assured.
And a child has to know, from their parents, that they are okay for being themselves.

Many kids are not gregarious and prefer to play with only one other person or by themselves. That is good. That means, he does not have to seek out, lots of 'approval' from others or be insecure about it.
My kids can be that way too. Fine. They are fine. They like themselves and are NOT in any way, lacking in self-esteem. They have their own interests and friends and do not have to have tons of company... in order to validate themselves. They are, confident kids. They are proud of their personality. The amount of friends or activities a child has, does NOT determine, their confidence or lack of it.

I know and see a lot of kids, that age, that really are just kids. BUT their 'passion' is what their parents, want. Not them.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Williamsport on

I wouldn't worry at 7. Being shy isn't the same as low self esteem, and if he likes being alone and playing and building in the dirt, as in, he's happy, then that's good. Just taking him to public places where he can do that is best in case he may socialize a little. Later on church will have things like camping and Habitat for Humanity type projects for him to do. He might like to play an instrument or tai kwon do. He can practice on his own, but would have a class to go to and a skill to be proud of.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Des Moines on

My family has been involved in scouting to the past 30+ years. Where scouting is held is not an affilitation. It is a room they have been allowed to use. I have seen church basements, town centers, and even my kitchen in use for holding meetings. Scouts do recognize God, but not any one denomination. They are taught to respect others and through the earning of badges are introduced to a varitety of activities. If your son likes to play in the dirt and build things - he is going to love the camping trips! Cubs Scouts usually get introduced to one trip a year, and this increases as they age.

4-H is another group with good values and the kids can really focus on activities and hobbies that interest them specifically.

Do you have a YMCA? They often have day camps and other activites he could try.

Your son is young and just reaching an age to be in most of these activites. They will help build his self esteem and give him lasting friendships.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Has he given you any reason to think he doesn't like himself or that he has a low self esteem? Since you ask the question, I assume he has and I would then second all of the Boy Scouts and 4H suggestions. If, however, he hasn't given you any reason, then maybe you are jumping the gun a bit here. I am the person you describe your son to be and I like me just fine. I always have. Every effort my parents made to put me a group activity was pure misery. I like my own company or that of one good friend. I had always had lots of solo hobbies and I have always been proud of what I could achieve on my own. As for finding his thing, it sounds like he has - hands on activities and tinkering. I could use an engineer like that right now actually. :) Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

There are places that offer Lego building workshops.
Would he like building E-Z Build models?

Sounds like a future civil engineer to me!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Don't worry, your son may be a loner but that doesn't mean he'll have low self-esteem. Nurture the things he is interested in. What is important is that you praise and encourage him for the things he does and enjoys. (OK, playing in the dirt would be a hard one, lol!)

My nephew is 10 and loves Legos, so my sister takes him to the monthly Lego workshops where he gets to build a small freebie. I don't know if there's any near you, but If your son likes them as well you might consider this: ~ on Mondays there's a Lego Club, at least through 10/31.

Also, expose him to as many things and activities as possible. Are you near any museums? If so, check for free days or times. Are there any colleges near you? They sometimes offer classes of all sorts for kids on the weekends, Check to see what community activities are available for free or low cost around you, especially now as we get into the holiday season.

Since he prefers to play alone consider a martial arts class. There will be others there but he does it on his own. My nephew started Tae Kwon Do a few months ago and has learned so much, and it's a great self-esteem builder.

Take him to the library, that's one of the best ways for a person to discover something they like. Buy him books of things he's shown an interest in. Encourage Dad to build something with him. Lowe's and The Home Depot, if you have any near you, offer free workshops for kids through age 12 one Saturday a month where they build an item from a kit.

If you're proud of him he will be proud of himself : )

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Being shy or being a loner doesn't mean low self esteem. Does he actually not like himself or are you assuming that he doesn't because he's not social/is shy, etc.? If he's a happy kid, don't keep trying to make him something he's not because that will just say to him that YOU aren't happy with who he is - and THAT will affect his self esteem.

I would try the local hardware store, home depot, etc. They usually have kids classes, etc, and may be able to direct you to a place that does have a "future builders of america" type of thing.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

My oldest son is a lot like that. He would rather play with his pappa's old stuff and with his air soft stuff or with his music. There is nothing wrong with the things he enjoys oding and I don't believe in pushing my kids to join sports. I have two boys. One is 12 1/2 pays sax, piano and teaching himself the electric guitar makes straight A's and would rather play with his airsoft gun and take stuff apart and put back together. My 9 year old son does competative gymnastics. So neither would fit into the typical kid. If he is happy I would not worry too much!

Good luck and God Bless!


answers from Columbia on

Actually there IS something out there for a boy like him. It's called 4-H. Check it out!



answers from Philadelphia on

There's Cub Scouts. Parents are involved and there at every meeting at the younger ages. Check out the library for reading clubs, one time events, Lego clubs, etc. I think that all kids need to be involved with something to keep them focused and out of trouble as they older. Sounds like your son needs to just be with other kids to help pull him out of his shyness and be more social. There's nothing wrong with being a solo kid ut he should be out doing things as well at times.

K. B
mo to 5 incuding triplets



answers from Denver on

Hi, I love the Home Depot idea- that's a great one. Check out your local library, they may have different clubs or one time events that facilitate different skill sets.



answers from Phoenix on

How about he Lego Club at the Lego store?

I would recommend music lessons: piano, guitar, violin.

Individual sports that come to mind: karate, swimming, gymnastics, rock climbing (although you need to belay and climb, so it's team work, but only 2)

Your son sounds very bright and sports are not for everyone. Playing with just one friend is wonderful thing. It's quieter. It's calming. I would not worry about this. He sounds delightful.



answers from Lafayette on

I would encourage physical activity...if he doesn't like ball sports, how about swimming, martial arts, gymnastics? That being said, how about starting a lego or chess club at school? My kids school has the Mad Science co. come in and do workshops. Also, look into Destination Imagination--he is perfect for it!

PS there is a ton of research about how playing in dirt is good for brain development. Try the Nature Principle by R Louv.



answers from San Francisco on

Don't worry so much. If there are things he finds joy in doing then self esteem won't be a problem. As he gets older more things will open up for him to be involved in at school..clubs..classes that he likes. Have his friend over for playdates and let them play with tools,legos or dirt. Just because he is not surrounded by kids his age doesn't mean he feels lonely. He is comfortable with one friend...and even better he feels comfortable being alone. Many adults don't even feel comfortable being they turn to toxic relationships,alcohol,drugs and overeating to dull the loneliness.

There are neat building projects every weekend at Lowe's and Home Depot. Find classes geared towards his interests at your local community center. Open up his world to books on his interests.

My son was never one for sports..come to find out he is a gifted musician. He has an ear for all music and picks up easily how to play a new instrument. He is also into acting so he loves being part of a play and performing on stage. We always thought he should be involved in a sport..but then we looked at what he liked and let him lead the way. Music is his gig...and we are nurturing that as much as we can.

Good luck and best wishes!



answers from Denver on

Here's a robot club in your area.

I also saw that there was a lego club that met at the library in the summer. You could try calling your local library and asking about that---they do some really cool stuff!

Home Depot and Lowe's are great ideas, too.

J. :-)



answers from Fargo on

Do you have 4H in your area? It's an amazing organization! Here is a link to the main website and I am sure you can look up a local chapter.

In my opinion, 4H is MILES better than Boy Scouts. You are a good mom to foster your son's interests! I hope he finds his niche!


answers from Santa Fe on

Have him try out different things and see if one of them resonates with him. Our son just loves cub scouts. He used to love gymnastics but now is too busy for it. Martial arts? A science club? Does the school or a local science museum have something like this? They will build things in that club. A geology club or an environmental club. Our local environmental center has clubs for kids and they do all kinds of cool things. We live in a town with a science lab and we have a robot making club here...for the engineering oriented kids. Do you have a local Sierra Club? You can try asking those members. Swimming? Our school has a service club for kids called K-Kids. They do nice things for the community. Our school has a jump rope club. Good luck finding something! Tell him you will go with him to the meetings at first to see if he enjoys it (if he is shy about going). Our son just loves cub scouts bc his dad (or mom)always goes with him and he loves it when we can come too.



answers from Boise on

Try signing him up for the Home Depot and Lowes Building days. They are free. I believe Home Depot does it 1 Saturday a month and Lowes does it 2 Saturday's a month.



answers from Las Vegas on

My son doesn't care much for organized sports, outside of kickball and or dodgeball at school.. We had him do Basketball one year and while he did it, he said after that, he wouldn't do it again.
therefore, he plays music.. He actually plays the accordion (his choosing I might add) Additionally, I have taken him to swim lessons , which again, he wasn't too into.... It's been tough finding things for him (esp when younger) he is now 9 1/2.. so there are more classes out there for bigger kids.. at least in my opinion.
Recently, we joined a gym where I will be taking aerobics and or Zumba.. would you son come with you and enjoy that? My son pretty much will do whatever I do... and in fact enjoys adult activities. I figure by taking him with me to exercise, it will do me good but moreover, him... could you join the YMCA or a gym that offers FAMILY classes? at my place, they have family swim night ...
could be that IF he sees you trying out new things that perhaps he will follow suit.
Don't give up though.. it's just a matter of him finding his passion.. start with music... see how that goes.. however, don't buy an instrument. in our case, we got my son accordion lessons where they also included the accordion. that way, if it didn't pan out, we wouldn't be out big money on an instrument. that was when my son was 7 and he's still playing as of today..

wishing you the best

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions