One of the hidden but powerful aspects of family photography that moms and most photographers rarely consider is how it can help us raise children with greater confidence in their own worth and abilities. Psychologists and experts have worked for the past decades exploring the link.
In 1975 a revealing study was conducted with a group of fourth-graders at a Tennessee school at Tulane University. Over a five-week period, the children took Polaroid snapshots of themselves with the provided cameras in a variety of assigned poses, compositions, and expressing various emotions. The children worked with the printed images of themselves and created scrapbooks once a week during those five weeks. End-of-study tests of students and teachers revealed a significant 37% increase in students’ average self-esteem behaviors. This Murfreesboro study shows some evidence that personal photography of children who are seen and liked in a specific way can help boost a child’s self-esteem.
But how can family photography, especially family portraits, help boost a child’s self-esteem?
David Krauss, a licensed psychologist from Cleveland, Ohio, says, “I think it’s very important to show the family as a family unit. It is very helpful for children to see themselves as a valuable and important part of that family unit. The job of a photographer is to create and make the image look like a safe space for children where they are safe and secure. Kids understand it on a really simple level. ”
Krauss is one of the pioneers in the use of people’s personal photographs and family albums to aid in mental health counseling and therapy. In 1983 he co-authored “Phototherapy and Mental Health” which is considered a foundational text for the use of photography in therapy.
“It allows kids to learn who they are and where they fit in,” says Judy Weiser. Vancouver-based psychologist, art therapist and author. “They learn his genealogy and the uniqueness of his family and his history. When a child sees a family portrait with him included in the photograph, she says: “These people have me as part of who I am, that’s why I belong here. I come from here.”
Weiser has been using all types of personal photography for more than 20 years to assist in the treatment of her clients. He is considered by many to be the leading authority on these treatment techniques, called Phototherapy.
When it comes to achieving the most positive impact for your baby, which is better, digital images or prints on paper?
Of course, instead of printing and viewing family photos, families are increasingly enjoying their pictures in digital form, whether it’s on a mobile device, laptop, or simply on social media. But does a picture on a tablet, computer screen, or social media site have the same impact in helping families boost a child’s self-esteem?
“My prejudice is very simple. I think (the family photographs) should be on the wall, “says Krauss.
“I am very conservative when it comes to self-esteem and I think that putting a family photo somewhere in the house where the child can see it every day without having to turn on a device or click on a computer to discover that this feeling of tranquility really it affects that child. and comfort. They have a certainty about themselves and a protective quality that nurtures a child. It lets them know where they are in the hierarchical order and that they are loved and cared for, “says Krauss.
The importance of the printed photographs displayed in your living space has been picked up by other experts.
“Seeing photos up close at home conveys the message that our family and those who live in them are important to each other, and we honor the memories we’ve had,” says Cathy Lander-Goldberg, Clinical Social Worker Licensed Photographer and Professional at St. Louis, Missouri and director of Photo Explorations, which offers seminars for girls and women who use portraiture and journaling for self-reflection.
Additionally, Krauss recommends putting pictures of that child with her family in the child’s bedroom to make it one of the last things she sees before bed and the first thing she can see before starting the day.
“He says we love you and we care about you. You are important. ”
by Chris Cummins, Aglow Design Contributor, Images by Milou + Olin Photography and Katie Lamb