Let them be kids | Fostering self-esteem through photos

I'm afraid my children will be miserable.

That's one of the key concerns moms have when I talk to them about family photo sessions.

And I get it.

Developmentally speaking, children are not wired to dress in fancy clothes, be told where to sit or stand, and smile pleasantly for a half-hour, an hour, two hours. . .

Everything about little kids rebels against that entire scenario.  If permitted to let loose you'll soon find that: 

1. Kids get dirty.

mom wiping cookie dough off of face of little girl
Mom wiping chocolate off of hands of little girl

2. Kids move around.  A LOT.  

candid photo of little girl jumping on trampoline

3. Kids shout and cry.

lifestyle photo of little girl crying at kitchen counter
candid photo of toddler looking upset at parent

4. Kids giggle hysterically.

little girl on learning tower pointing and laughing at her mom

5. Kids give generously.

toddler girl sharing cookie dough with dad in kitchen

6. Kids cuddle on laps like PB sticks to J.

toddler flipping through photo album while sitting on mom's lab

7. Kids sit quietly.  For a split second.  Sometimes.

lifestyle family photo of toddler sitting in chair holding ball

So make photos of your kids being who they are.  Make artful, nostalgic images and put them up on your walls, friend.

Not just because those photos are beautiful.

Not just because they chronicle your family's history.

But also because these images of your children displayed in your home can give them a boost of confidence. 

special brewjust for you (1).png

And that's not just me talking out my bum. 

There's evidence, baby.

What appears to be the most well-cited research of photography and child self-esteem is a 1975 study by Ammermann & Fryrear.  They found that self-esteem behaviors were significantly increased in a group of fourth-grade students who took Polaroid photos of themselves (the original selfies!) over five weeks.  You can find the Abstract to that article here.  

While cruising the web for some more recent information by the experts, I ran across this gem of a blog post by Chris Cummins.  Cummins interviewed four experts in the fields of psychology, art therapy, social work and more and asked about the role family photographs play in a child's confidence and self-esteem.  It's a good quick read.

But if you don't have time here's the take home message: Family photographs around the home increase children's self-worth.  And the printed photograph gets bonus points over the digital one.  Boom!

Last link here: In an article in The Baltimore Sun, clinical psychologist David Krauss asserts that family photo galleries are important.  "What it says to a child is, 'I'm important in this family.'"  

  • I am important.

  • I belong here.

  • I am part of the family unit.

Isn't that what we want our littles to feel?

And, in my opinion, photos that show them AS THEY ARE are even more precious.

This is me and I am worthy.

toddler paitning with water colors with her dad

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