Family Photos Can Help With Your Child’s Self Esteem

My daughter was upset today because all her friends seemed to be mad at her or just plain not being nice to her.  Being a teen today is not easy.  What with all the access to social media out there whether it be SnapChat, Instagram, Facebook or Ask (which I am not very familiar with other than to know that it is a place to post mean things about people).  Teenagers can be cruel.  I know this from when I was a teen as well.  There was always a lot of backstabbing, taking sides with one friend over another, etc. but we settled our arguments without the whole school knowing about it. 

Today everything gets blown all out of proportion really fast.  My daughter is way more confident and prettier than I was at her age, but I know she struggles with self-esteem issues.  She fears that her thighs are too big or her stomach isn’t completely flat.  I know almost all teens experience this.  So, this morning I got to thinking how photography could help children with their self-esteem.  I came across an article online from glowimagery.com   A study was actually done and it was found that a hidden but extremely powerful part of having family photos done that most parents do not even consider is how it can help parents to raise children with stronger self- confidence.  Experts in psychology and mental-health therapies across both Canada and the United States are saying that family photos can help with the emotional and psychological well-being of our children. And studies in this area go back to 1975! 

How you might ask?  Well, “it lets children learn who they are and where they fit in,” says Judy Weiser, a psychologist, art therapist and author based out of Vancouver.  She says when a child sees a family portrait with them in it, it says to them that this is where they come from and where they belong.  There is even a group on Facebook for PhotoTherapy. 

But, what ties in with an earlier blog of mine about printing your photos is that in terms of boosting your child’s self confidence, printing is best.  If you place a family photo on a wall where a child can see it every day, it gives them comfort. ” It lets them know they are loved and cared for,” says David Krauss, a licensed psychologist from Cleveland, Ohio.  He even recommends having family photographs in your child’s bedroom so it can be one of the last things they see before they sleep and the first thing they see in the morning.  I know that my daughter has practically a whole wall in her room with family photos on it.  They include some of her by herself when she was little just having fun, some with her brothers and some as a whole family.  They mean a lot to her. 

Another psychologist, Craig Steinberg says, “touching a photograph where a face is smiling or the shoulders, it is the same as touching a book when you read it.  There’s a lot of stimulation of the brain when you have that sensory experience.”  And even more, displaying photos prominently in a home sends a message that OUR Family is important to one another.  I can say for one, my grandmother had family photos in every room of her house.  In the bedroom that I used when I stayed there, she had her favourite photos of me plus some of her and I together.  In others, she had photos of my grandfather as a baby along with my great-aunt as a little girl.  It made me feel very warm when I looked at the photos.  I loved looking through her photo albums as well and I would caress some photos as I looked at them – again a sensory thing.  I grew up knowing where I came from, feeling a sense of belonging and being loved.  Not that I didn’t have self esteem issues, but I knew my grandparent’s home was a place I could always go and feel a sense of belonging and love.

So, what do the experts say that parents can do?  They say after a family session, look at the images with your children, ask questions about what the child sees and what they like and don’t like about the images.  But even before the session, get them involved in picking out an outfit, their ideas for locations for the photos.  Seek out a photographer that welcomes input from the children.  And this gets even more important in the teenage years – even though they sometimes have the “I don’t care” attitude, try giving them a change, let them feel important in the decision making.  And the discussions after the photos are taken are even more important for teens.  It gives them a chance to sort through their feelings about themselves and their changing bodies.  And giving them a camera (not that most teenagers don’t already have a camera phone), will give them a chance to see how they relate to the world outside of their family.  Take the time to ask your teenagers to show you some of the photos they took, discuss the photos with them.  They certainly aren’t going to show you all their photos, but you might be surprised with what they will show you.  My one son, who is now 19 will go away for a weekend with friends and text me photos that he’s just taken so I can see what he is seeing.  I love it!  I truly love that he shares his adventures with me in this way!

If you want to know more on this topic, check out glowimagery.com or google “Photo Therapy with children”. 

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