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One powerful yet hidden aspect of family photography that parents and photographers might not think about too much is that it can assist us when it comes to raising kids with stronger confidence in their own abilities and worth. Experts and psychologists have actually done quite a bit of work in past decades. They have explored the benefits of family photos for your child’s self esteem.
Many parents are unaware of the importance of family photos and how powerful they can be as a tool for raising the self esteem of children. If you have never considered the benefits of family photos for your child’s self esteem before, then I have some very helpful information and guidance for you here.
How can family photos boost your child’s Self Esteem? In the early years of a child’s life the need to acquire a sense of belonging is strong. Family portraits show your child that he/ she is an important member of a family who is loved. Family photos help shape the personal identity and help your child to feel secure (source: Linda Good, 2005. Childhood Education.)
There is, of course, much more to consider than the brief description above. In what follows we will take a look at the research behind this. We will also look at ways that you can use the benefits of family photos for your child’s self esteem. Not only will this help your child to build a healthy level of self esteem and confidence, it will also help you to build a stronger family.
The Family Unit and its Importance to your Child’s Self Esteem
Family photographs are important to the self-esteem of a child. This is because it allows the child to see himself as an important and valued part of the family.
According to Scott and Cameron, in an article in the journal developing practice, the development of identity and belonging is very important if children are to build healthy self esteem. Family photos are one way to promote this sense of belonging and therefore can improve a child’s self esteem.
Putting family portraits where the child can see them, for example in the hallway or main areas of the house will reinforce the message that the child is wanted and is important in your life.
One of the worst things that can happen to a child is to feel ignored. Neglect is very damaging to any child and can be a root cause of problems both during and after childhood. As a responsible parent you will want to include your child in as many family events as you can. However, your child’s self esteem is formed early on with a sense of belonging to a family unit.
Very early in a child’s life the family comes to mean a safe place where the child understands his place. The bond between your child and you strengthens with photos that show this strong bond. This is why there are so many family portraits in the home.
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One of the major benefits of family photos for your child’s self esteem is the fact that it tells the child that you are thinking about them and are proud of them. Family photos are pictures to show others or hang on walls which means the child knows he is wanted and loved. This is very comforting for the child.
An unloved and neglected child may wonder why parents do not love him or her, and may decide that it is their own fault for some reason. This can cause low self esteem issues and deep unhappiness. If family photos are a display of love, then it is easy to understand that they can improve a child’s self esteem.
Benefits of family photos: providing a sense of security
One job of a portrait photographer is to make the photo a space for the child where they’re protected and safe. Kids seem to get this on a really basic level. This also holds true if it’s a painting from a photo. Many parents decide to make the image extra special by having a digital photo made into a painting format.
Paintings are extra special in a child’s eyes, because it is art and expresses feelings. It takes more time and effort to produce a painting than to take a photo. Again children just seem to get this.
Does it make any difference whether the photo is on paper or in digital format?
It should be obvious that rather than printing and displaying family photos, people tend to increasingly stick with the digital form, whether it’s on a laptop, Facebook, or some other device. However, does a digital image have the same impact when it comes to boosting the self-esteem of a child? A lot of psychologists don’t think so. However, it’s easy to change that digital picture to painting form.
Family photos should be placed somewhere in the home where a device doesn’t need to be turned on in order to view them. This will truly offer a child both comfort and reassurance while telling them something about the importance of their place in the family.
When thinking about the benefits of family photos for your child’s self esteem it is important to consider where to place these family portraits in the home. One great place to put them is in the child’s bedroom as it is a place where the child feels safe. The child will see the photo every day and even before sleeping or getting up in the morning. This will be a constant reminder that your child is loved, and this is the basis of self esteem.
What Can Parents Do to Foster Self-Esteem Using Family Photos?
Here’s another helpful strategy you can use to enhance the benefits of family photos for your child’s self esteem. The idea is to get the child more involved in the creation of their photos. Encourage your child to create a personal photo album as a celebration of their place in the family and activities shared together. Because the child has had a role in creating the photo, it will be more personal and, therefore, special for them.
Make sure to use the technology we have now to your advantage. Digital photography has made it possible to display different photos in digital format. Choose a suitable digital photo frame and then let your child choose the photos for it. Again, this inclusion in the photo creation process can work wonders and improve your child’s self esteem.
Family photos as a way to encourage your child to express their feelings
Parents might also ask their kids what aspects of the images that they like or don’t like. This allows the children to share their stories, feelings, and thoughts that the images evoke in the child.
Sharing thoughts and feelings with and listening to your child is priceless! In effect, you are encouraging your child to communicate which is a valuable skill in itself. This will benefit your child in later life. Also, by asking for your child’s thoughts you are showing your child that you respect them as a person. The result is a boost in your child’s self esteem.
The above can boost self esteem on a longer term basis if you do this regularly.
If you use family photos to spark conversations with your child and others then this will make the home a safe place to discuss and share ideas. The child is then more likely to take this outgoing and confident behaviour out into the world where the child will appear more confident.
Get your child more involved in the creation of family photos
Another way to get them involved is to have them take part in the process before these photos are taken. Ask them for ideas about the clothes they should wear and where the photos should be taken.
Take every opportunity to involve your child in the photo process. This will increase the effect these photos will have on their self esteem. Imagine a parent who never asks his child to get involved, or just tells the child everything he or she should do. The result can be very unfortunate, and the child will almost certainly lack confidence.
As a parent, you help shape and maintain your child’s self esteem. Use the opportunity to make family photos one of the things that will help your child and your family bond.
- Linda Good (2005) Snap it Up!: Using Digital Photography in Early Childhood, Childhood Education, 82:2, 79-85, DOI: 10.1080/00094056.2006.10521351
- Scott, T., & Cameron, S.L. (2004). Identity, Self-esteem, and the Use of Life Books for Children and Young People in Care.
- Neglect. Harvard University Website. Accessed from: https://developingchild.harvard.edu/science/deep-dives/neglect/
Website Author and Editor Bio
Karl Perera is a fully qualified Life Coach (DipLC), Teacher (MA) and author of Self Esteem Secrets. He has taught at various universities including Durham, Leicester and Anglia Ruskin, Cambridge. He has run More-SelfEsteem.com since 1997 and is an expert in Self Esteem and Self Confidence.