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Family dynamics and your child’s self-esteem

Image: Dove Self-Esteem Project

Parent Info has partnered with the Dove Self-Esteem Project to offer parents advice and information to help children and young people build confidence and feel good about themselves.

In this article, we look at the importance of family influence on helping build body confidence

‘Family is an important source of support for a young person’

You can’t control the external social pressures that your child may be facing when it comes to body image, and this can be frustrating. But, family is an important source of support for a young person.

Family dynamics can have a significant impact on the way your child feels. Everyday interactions and comments about appearances, within the family, can affect your child’s body confidence.

For example, if one sibling says they find a muscular physique attractive, this could lead to the other sibling feeling pressure to look this way to impress others. Or, if a family member constantly comments on how attractive women in music videos are, this may inadvertently make a young person feel as though they should look like them too. Although seemingly harmless, throwaway comments that are not directed at each other, they may be putting undue emphasis on an unrealistic body image. This could in turn affect a child’s self-esteem.  

‘Even joking around can cause harm or knock a child’s self-confidence’

Another family dynamic that can be problematic is the use of nicknames that are meant to be affectionate, but actually make a young person feel insecure about the way they look. Even joking around can cause harm or knock a child’s self-confidence. It is a good idea to be mindful that your child may be struggling to come to terms with body changes brought about during puberty and could be sensitive about their appearance. You may want to have a family discussion in which you discuss the way you interact together as a family and how it can affect others.

Read more about issues within family relationships that may impact self-esteem, and some actions you can take as a parent, with expert advice from psychologist Teri Apter.

The desire to change something about the way we look is normal and something that is experienced by most people.

Tip: Watch this video with your child and encourage them to question why so many people want to change something about their physical appearance. Discuss why so often, the physical feature you may want to change is exactly the physical feature someone else wants to have.

Download your FREE 40-page parent guide to boosting your child's self-esteem here

This downloadable pdf contains expert advice from Dove Self-Esteem Project global experts from the fields of psychology, body image, self-esteem, eating disorders and media representation to create a resource for parents that is focused on advice and action.  

Teachers: for free downloadable teaching resources, go to the Dove Self-Esteem Project area on

These pages are brought to you by Parent Zone and the Dove Self-Esteem Project


The advice published on Parent Info is provided by independent experts in their field and not necessarily the views of Parent Zone or NCA-CEOP.

First published: March 2018


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