How physical activity can help build self-esteem
Getting children moving can help them learn new skills, develop new friendships and, of course, stay physically healthy — but did you know it can also contribute to their mental wellbeing?
‘Taking up a sport or exercising regularly can have a very positive impact on mental wellbeing’ - NHS
Research has shown that taking up a sport or exercising regularly can help boost self-esteem, relieve stress and prevent mood swings.
Here are a few things you can do to help boys and girls build their self-esteem through physical activity. You can find many more ideas and activities in the free Dove Self-Esteem project resources.
Find an activity that suits them
According to the NHS, taking up a sport or exercising regularly can have a very positive impact on mental wellbeing in general and lowers the chances of developing depression and anxiety by up to 30 per cent.
Trying a new sport or activity can be a great way to start. All children have different strengths and interests but you can help guide them towards something that will engage them and compliment their skill set.
For example, they might want to try out a team-based sport — like football, netball or rugby — if they cooperate well with others or they might want to try out more individual sports — such as tennis, athletics or swimming. Finding a form of physical activity that they enjoy doing will help boys and girls get a sense of achievement which greatly benefits their self-esteem.
You can find more teaching advice on how to nurture children’s self-esteem in the free Dove Self-Esteem Project ‘Single Session’ workshop.
Remind children ‘It is not about how you look, but how you feel’
Research has shown that as well as having an effect on a person’s body shape, exercise also relieves stress and anxiety and makes us feel all-around better. When we exercise, the body releases endorphins which make us feel more positive.
Remind children that what matters is how they feel rather than how they look.
Children face a lot of pressure to live up to appearance ideals, but it is important that they understand that they should be proud of their individuality and not feel like they have to aim to look like social media influencers or celebrities.
The workshop on appearance ideals dives deeper into how you can debunk beauty myths and help children become more confident about their personalities.
The Dove Self-Esteem Project offers a series of free workshops and resources with practical activities to help you boost children’s self-esteem. This includes looking at how to challenge media messages, examine appearance ideals that are changing over time and how to talk to them about embracing their individuality, giving them the confidence to be unique.
‘Uniquely me’ is packed with much more advice and some 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.