This article was contributed by Dove Self-Esteem Project

The Dove Self-Esteem Project provides teachers, family workers and parents with free school 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. These articles contain advice suitable for secondary school-age children. 

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From primary to secondary: how to ease your child’s transition

A stack of books, an apple and a pair of glasses

Leaving behind the familiar, safe environment of primary school and setting off for the uncharted territory of secondary school is a big adventure in a child’s life. It’s exciting - new people and new activities — but also challenging. 

Here are a few ways you can help smooth your child’s transition to secondary school:

Encourage them to be brave

A bit of nervousness is only to be expected - but remind your child that this is also the chance to make some new, potentially life-long friends. Encourage them to talk to people they don’t know and remind them that everyone is facing the same challenge - and likely to be feeling the same, too.

The Dove Self-Esteem Project’s ‘Uniquely Me’ Parent Guide, which you can download for free, has lots of activities and action checklists designed to boost children and young people’s confidence.

Talk about social media and appearance ideals

Even though most social media platforms require users to be 13, they don’t require them to verify their age - and once children reach secondary school they’re likely to come under growing peer pressure to start living online.  

Before your child creates any profiles, have a chat with them about the type of content they’re likely to see. Social media can offer great tools for self-expression - but your child is also going to see manipulated images of models and influencers that could lead to feelings of uncertainty and insecurity. 

Remind them that what appears online often isn’t real. People often edit photos until they look nothing like the original. Let them know about the many influencers, like Jameela Jamil and Lupita Nyong’o, who are fighting against airbrushing and society’s beauty ideals. You can read more about how to talk to your child about appearance ideals and manipulated media in chapter 3 of the free ‘Uniquely Me’ Parent Guide from the Dove Self-Esteem Project.

Let them know you are there to help

So much is changing for your child all at once. Make sure they know you’re there if they need to talk. Be patient: friendships can take a while, so try not to add to the pressure by asking about new friends too soon. In chapter 7 of the free ‘Uniquely Me’ Parent Guide, there’s lots of helpful advice about communicating with your child.

(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 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.

Download your free ‘Uniquely Me’ Parent Guide

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