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How to nurture a healthy self-esteem in your child

Healthy self-esteem starts with self-love. This can be hard when we often associate self-love with vanity, rather than positive attitudes such as body confidence. Just as with a healthy body, a healthy mind needs to be nurtured properly. Body confidence doesn’t come naturally to everyone so it’s important to help young people learn how they can accept and love the way they look.

Here are some ways that you can help foster a healthy self-esteem in your child:

Lead by example

  • Try only talking about yourself the way you would talk to a friend. Being critical of yourself can have an impact on how your child sees themselves.
  • When things don’t go well for you, try sharing the experience in a positive way with your child - that way they will see that we all make mistakes and that you can work through it and come out the other side.

Avoid comparisons

  • Be careful not to criticise images of people you see in the media, even if you’re just trying to show your child how some images are edited and depict unrealistic portrayals of beauty. It’s important that boosting your child’s self-esteem doesn’t come at the cost of tearing down others.
  • Try flicking through a tabloid magazine and challenge the way they speak about women and men regarding their appearances.

Get active

  • Encourage your child to focus on what their body can do not what it looks like.
  • A focus on how physical activity makes young people feel not how it will make their body look can empower them and draw negative attention away from their appearance.

Reduce body talk

  • Be aware that compliments based on your child’s appearance - even kind, well intentioned ones can be damaging to their self-esteem.
  • Try paying your child regular compliments that don’t relate to their appearance - that way they will learn to value accomplishments and personality traits beyond their looks.

The free Uniquely Me parent guide is packed with much more advice and some practical activities to help support you with boosting your child’s body confidence and self-esteem.

Read, download or print the free Uniquely Me parent guide

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. Click on 'Files: Uniquely Me parent guide.pdf' at the foot of the page to download.

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

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