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Why is body confidence and self-esteem important for students?

The early teen years are one of the most dynamic in terms of development- physically, emotionally and socially. Fitting in and being accepted by peers is central. In fact, brain science tells us that during early adolescence social acceptance by peers may be processed by the brain similarly to other pleasurable rewards, such as receiving money or eating ice cream.

There is growing acknowledgement that social/emotional and mental health of students is a vital ingredient to success in school and beyond the classroom. Self-esteem works in concert with other personality traits, like openness, conscientiousness and belief in one’s ability to overcome obstacles (self-efficacy). Research has found that self-esteem positively impacts academic self-efficacy and belief that school is important, which in turn impacts academic success (like grades).

On behalf of the Dove Self-Esteem Project National Cadre and Cairn Guidance, I would like to extend an opportunity to share a little bit about the Dove Self-Esteem Project (DSEP). I am one of the regional representatives for the “DSEP Confident Me!” program. As an 11-year veteran of teaching middle school health and physical education, I know how challenging it is to find research-based, solid resources for improving self-esteem.

The DSEP Confident Me! program promotes body confidence among youth ages 11-14 (can be adapted for younger students as well) in school settings. There are multiple curriculum options that fit nicely into my existing units. Lessons include a range of curriculum-relevant teaching resources, developed in collaboration with teachers and students. Research has shown that students who participate in the DSEP Confident Me! lessons have improved body image and self-esteem. Students also report feeling more confident to participate in social and academic activities. The core themes are tied to the national health standards and fit seamlessly into the mandates of middle level health in Iowa.

Frequently when people think of body image, self-esteem, and body confidence, they think of females. As a male, I appreciate how the program focuses on inclusion and recognizes the struggles males endure during adolescents. I use the videos in the Confident Me lessons to engage my students in rich discussions about the challenges of middle school students. The DSEP "Confident Me!" lessons are engaging and relative to students' lives.

If you would like to learn more about this free program, please contact me at I am happy to provide further details and discuss the program options. All resources and lesson are available through free downloadable materials created through grant funding. These are free to you and reusable.

McNeely C, Blanchard J. 2009. The Teen Years Explained: A Guide to Healthy Adolescent Development. Center for Adolescent Health at John's Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Di Giunta L et al. 2013. The determinants of scholastic achievement: The contribution of personality traits, self-esteem, and academic self-efficacy. Learning and Individual Differences, 27, 102-108.

For teachers that do choose to implement one of the lessons and provide feedback, Dove is providing incentives to any educator or school professional who implements the Confident Me! program by Dec. 8. Participants are entered into a drawing for a chance to win paid attendance your state conference or a national conference of their choice — all Expenses PAID!

For more information please contact: Brett Delaney — more

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7701 Las Colinas Blvd., Ste. 800, Irving, TX 75063