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Signs that a pupil may be struggling with low self-esteem

Research has shown that eight in 10 girls are unhappy about the way they look. Feelings of insecurity can often be amplified by appearance ideals found in everyday life through the media and many young people may be struggling with low self-esteem.

Here are some signs that a pupil may be struggling with low self-esteem:

Weight loss and loss of appetite

Eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, can develop if a young person is trying to make their body correspond with an appearance ideal. If a pupil stops eating lunch at school, has lost a lot of weight or is constantly talking about their weight this could indicate low self-esteem.

Lack of commitment that affects their school work

Another sign which could indicate that a pupil is suffering from a self-esteem issue is if their academic performance suddenly weakens. Some children who suffer with low self-esteem can be afraid of failure and may do everything they can to avoid challenge.

Difficulty accepting praise and/or criticism

A pupil with low self-esteem could become easily embarrassed by praise and try to downplay it to reduce attention directed at them. Similarly, children with low self-esteem may find it hard to accept criticism as this may confirm the negative feelings they already have about their abilities and they may have a hard time separating constructive criticism from being told off.

How to help boost your pupils’ self-esteem and body confidence

The Dove Self-Esteem Project offers a series of free workshops and resources with practical activities to help you boost your pupils’ self-esteem. This includes looking at how to challenge media messages, examine appearance ideals that are changing over time and how to talk to pupils about how to embrace their individuality, giving them the confidence to be unique. 

Download your free teaching resources here. 

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.

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.

Read, download or print the free Uniquely Me parent guide