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This article was contributed by Dove Self-Esteem Project

The Dove Self-Esteem Project provides teachers, family workers and parents with free resources to help raise young people's body confidence and self-esteem. Teachers and professionals can download free resources to deliver self-esteem workshops to young people.

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Boosting your child’s self-esteem in six easy steps

Boy looking up at sky

Drop the negative body talk

We have a tendency to put ourselves down by talking negatively about our bodies, and studies have shown it has a significant impact on our self-esteem. The first step to building body confidence is to stop the negative body talk and start talking about the things that we like about ourselves and make us unique. Chapter 2 of the free ‘Uniquely Me’ Parent Guide from the Dove Self-Esteem Project has lots of advice as well as an action checklist on how to use the power of your words to feel great.

Celebrate uniqueness — not looks

Beauty is not about how we look — but how we feel. Having a unique interest or knowing that they’re really good at something can boost your child’s self-esteem tremendously. Try paying your child compliments that don’t relate to looks on a regular basis.

This will help reinforce their confidence in their abilities and give them the self-esteem needed to take on new challenges. Have a look at the action checklist in chapter 4 of the ‘Uniquely Me’ Parent Guide for more information.

Set some personal goals

Determination and confidence go hand in hand, so inspiring your child to set some personal goals for themselves can be a great way to build their self-esteem. Goals give a sense of direction and purpose and could help your child realise where their strengths and talents lie. Doing the ‘Real Me’ activity in chapter 4 of the ‘Uniquely Me’ Parent Guide can be a good starting point as it will help your child identify what they enjoy doing and what they’re good at.

Expose the beauty myth

Children are bombarded with pictures of airbrushed models and manipulated bodies from an increasingly early age which could lead them to develop an unrealistic view of what society expects them to look like.

It could be a good idea to have a chat with your child about appearance ideals to get a sense of whether they’ve influenced them to look a certain way or if they’ve made them feel bad about the way they look. Explain to them that they shouldn’t be comparing themselves to what they see on social media because it simply isn’t attainable and therefore not helpful. You can more about media manipulation and how to talk to your child about it in chapter 3 of the ‘Uniquely Me’ Parent Guide.

Debunk gender stereotypes

Who says that girls need to be into clothes, make-up and the colour pink, or boys into cars, muscles and sports? Although we as a society come a long way in accepting people for who they are, there are those who still keep gender stereotypes alive, despite them being very outdated and flat-out sexist.

Reiterate to your child that they should never let outdated values and beliefs determine what they chose to do — or not to do — with their lives. Ask your child whether they think gender stereotypes even make sense considering so many people don’t live up to the criteria.

Point towards helpful role models

The word ‘influencer’ isn’t synonymous with slender models and muscular bodybuilders — there are many inspiring role models fighting against appearance ideals and encouraging people to be proud of their bodies.

The TV star Jameela Jamil from the show The Good Place, for example, has been very vocal against airbrushing and continues to inspire children to be proud of their bodies. Also, the Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o is campaigning to change people’s minds about what ‘beauty’ looks like, she has even written a book for young children on body image!

 

(For teachers and professionals, the Dove Self-Esteem Project also offers a series of workshops and resources with practical activities to help boost children’s self-esteem. Download them for free here.)

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‘Uniquely Me’ is packed with advice and practical activities for parents to help nurture their children's body confidence and self-esteem. It contains advice from Dove Self-Esteem Project global experts on body image, self-esteem, eating disorders and media representation to create a resource for parents that is focused on advice and action.

Download your free ‘Uniquely Me’ Parent Guide

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