One thing you can do to increase your child’s self-esteem

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When someone walks into our living space they are met with two photographs taken at my husband’s graduation days, and photographs from our wedding day. Decorating with photographs is incredibly important to me and I would much rather fill our walls with memories than art. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy decorating with art - on the same wall as the photographs is a piece of art made by a friend as a wedding present and I love it.

However, I prefer decorating with photographs - I know, I’m a photographer so I may be biased.

I love that when I walk into our living room I am met with a photograph that celebrates my husband’s hard work and one of his biggest achievements thus far. It was such a happy day and I could not have been prouder of him. Seeing this photograph, and the ones from our wedding day, make me smile on a regular basis.

I might also be influenced by my childhood. Growing up, I was surrounded by photographs of us as children and as a family. Each child has a photo album dedicated to our childhood, and then there are several family albums documenting holidays and special occasions. We always knew where the photographs were kept.

Displaying photographs in your home can increase or have a positive impact on self-esteem and confidence.

Professor Geoff Beattie, Head of School and Dean of Psychological Sciences at the University of Manchester said: “When children grow up surrounded by photographs, it gives them a richer understanding of where they come from, which helps with confidence. Until recently, people often thought of photographs as almost trivial, but actually, they are an incredibly important way of connecting with our sense of self, with each other and with times gone by.”

He continues: "For children, in particular, looking at photographs is part of the socialising process; learning who you are and where you fit into the family. By displaying photographs of our children at different stages of their lives, we are making a very public statement that we are proud of them."

I love watching my nephews discover photographs of themselves and close family members. They flip through the same photographs over and over pointing out each person in turn. They love that they are in the photographs.

The majority of us have devices where photographs can be stored, so are digital images enough?

Do we actually need to be printing photographs? 

As a photographer, it is no secret that I want people to print their photographs. I want you to love your photographs and for you to want to show them off. I want you to enjoy the memories associated with your photographs and to capture you in a way that makes you feel confident in who you are. 

In this digital age, there are too many of us who leave our photographs on our devices. I'll hold my hand up here - I know I don't print my photos as much as I should do! Imagine for a second that your phone gets stolen, your laptop dies, the device that holds all your memories no longer allows you to access them. Do you have backups? Do you have physical copies? Or will you be sobbing your heart out that you've just lost every photograph you've taken? Those first steps, the first solid food, prom night, wedding days, the list of special occasions and beautiful memories go on and on. When was the last time you printed physical photographs?

And guess what? It's not just me telling you that you need to print your photos. Here are some quotes from psychologists who use photography as a therapy, talking about the importance of physical photographs.

“My bias is very simple. I think they [family photographs] should be on the wall, I am very conservative about self-esteem and I think placing a family photo someplace in the home where the child can see it every day without having to turn on a device or click around on a computer to find it really hits home for that child this sense of reassurance and comfort. They have a certainty about them and a protecting quality that nurtures a child. It lets them know where they are in the pecking order and that they are loved and cared for.” - David A. Krauss (licensed psychologist).

He wasn’t alone.

Craig Steinberg, a licensed psychologist who works with children between the ages of five and 13 said: “My personal and clinical bias is there is something very powerful in touching your fingers to an actual print. … There’s a lot of stimulation of the brain when you have that sensory experience. That is a bit lost in the move to digital. You are touching a keyboard, mouse or a touchscreen but you are not touching the image.”

In The Magic of Encouragement (Morrow, 1990), child psychotherapist Stephanie Marston said: "Research has shown the 30-minute time period just before bed is when children are more receptive and listen and absorb more than any other time. Put photos of your kids being capable and loved next to their beds, and these positive images are likely to be the last thing they see before they sleep and the first thing they see when they awaken.”

I'm going to be sharing one of my goals for 2018 next Sunday. I'd like to get you thinking about photography as part of your 2018 goals. Does your family have photographs of them visible and easily accessible?