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‘Talking inner beauty, unrealistic images and positive feelings: how I use the Dove Self-Esteem Project with families’

Jean from the family learning team at Cheshire West and Chester Council explains how she uses the free Dove Self-Esteem Project Uniquely Me guide to boost confidence and positive body image in young people

‘I’ve been using the Uniquely Me parent guide as part of parenting courses that I deliver at local schools. Before this, I used it in Speakeasy (a course that helps parents talk to their children about sex, relationships and growing up) and in Developing Personal Confidence courses looking at body image, low self-esteem and the use of social media.

The resources we use are relevant and topical meaning that parents become more informed and comfortable talking to their teens about sensitive issues. The resulting increase in interest and dialogue between family members can further help improve overall family relationships and aspirations ultimately leading to improved confidence and attainment in school. 

In section one of the parent guide, parents are encouraged to explore with their child how easy it is to digitally distort an image and recognise that what they see and compare themselves to in magazines or online is not realistic.

I think most teenagers are already aware of this, but it does still need reinforcing. At this stage of their development, their self-esteem is likely to be fragile and this could be worsened if they feel that they have a less than ‘perfect’ body.

The Dove Evolution video can be a useful one to play in a parent session. It’s a short time-lapse showing the transformation process of a woman with no makeup on. Hair stylists, makeup artists, professional lighting and finally photo editing and manipulation make the woman almost unrecognisable.

Download your free Uniquely Me parent guide here.

When it comes to talking about praising children, I like to use section four of the parent guide that looks at how to celebrate inner beauty. I encourage parents to focus on what their child is good at and enjoys doing, avoiding too much talk about appearances. This section has a handout, ‘The Real Me’, that I give to parents to work through with their teenagers. This encourages their child to think about the things that they enjoy, that they are proud of and what they think it is that makes them unique.

Last week, in one of the parent sessions, there was a discussion about how teenagers judge each other on how they look or how they dress. We talked about the parent’s role to balance this with compliments and praise about the other things that make their children unique.

Want to upgrade your school's PSHE resources for free? Register now to get the free teaching resources. Find out more about the Dove Self-Esteem project here

In my sessions, I use sections five and six a lot. Section five looks at bullying and section six looks at teasing at home. They have useful tips to share with parents about how to spot the signs that their child may be being bullied and how to help them. I’ve also had discussions in many groups, both parenting and parents’ confidence-building, about the difference between bullying and banter or teasing. It’s interesting to have the discussion about when family banter can become bullying.

I encourage parents to talk to their children about leading a healthy lifestyle and exercising so that the focus shifts to how their child feels rather than on appearances and body image. Sections eight and nine of the Uniquely Me guide look at the benefits of a healthy balanced diet and physical activity in order to feel good.’

The family learning team at Cheshire West and Chester Council has been delivering workshops in local schools to help parents to support their children and boost their self-esteem and body confidence. The team works in partnership with schools to ensure that the messages are in line with the schools’ PSHE curriculum.