We talked previously about the many ways family portraits can help build stronger families. It’s time to shift focus a bit and discuss the ways you can boost your child’s self-esteem by taking family portraits.
It seems like such a coordinated effort. You make sure everyone is dressed in colors and styles that will blend well without coming off too boring. Then you try to get the kids in the right poses so that the pictures have personality and display the culture of your family. The focus is on the family as a unit, but something powerful is happening with each of your children as individuals.
The Developing Sense of Self
By the age of three or four, children start to see themselves as individuals. They’re noticing things about themselves beyond their basic need for survival. The more secure they feel by their family unit, the more they will explore who they are in the world as individuals. Most aren’t critical of themselves at this point, but they are laying the foundation of the self-esteem that will carry them through life later on.
By the age of six, those self-exploring tots start to notice their place within the family unit. They start to test limits, say ‘no’ when they don’t want to do something, and express how they’re feeling. The extent to which they do this depends on the level of unity and security sensed within the family.
Throughout these years of development, your children are also mastering language and learning what behaviors are socially acceptable. They’re learning what they like and don’t like. They’re excited to master new skills and see what their bodies can do physically. Interactions with every member of the family will work with these experiences to influence their level of self-esteem for the years to come.
How Families Impact Self-Esteem
In 1999, the American Journal of Sociology printed results from a research study that emphasized the importance of parental involvement within families. The results showed that parental family integration in a child’s early years contributed to positive self-esteem more than 20 years later as participating children entered young adulthood.
The study defined parental family integration with three criteria:
- Participation in activities within the home
- Strong family social networks
- Strong family support networks
In more recent years, those findings have been supported by many new studies. One study conducted on female high school students in Iran found that the aspirations of parents and the family unit strongly influenced self-esteem levels for teenagers. Another study published in 2017 found that the level of self-esteem displayed by college students was heavily influenced by family dynamics earlier in life.
Self-esteem is a complex topic because there are so many factors that influence how children feel about themselves when they’re young and as they grow up. Something as simple as a lack of independence or critical responses to behaviors can have a negative impact that lasts well beyond childhood.
Pictures and Self-Esteem – A Link No Parent Can Afford to Miss
What happens when you see a picture of yourself? You naturally stop and take a closer look, right? It’s human nature to inspect images of ourselves and draw conclusions about how we look, how the world might see us, and who we are as individuals.
As adults, we’re often critical of how we look in pictures. If we think we look too big or have a less than flattering look on our faces, we’re tempted to hide the picture. Digital technology makes it far too easy to delete those shots and try again when taking pictures at home.
Children are likely to do the same thing when they see pictures of themselves. They want to take a closer look. They take in everything from their clothing to the position of their bodies and the look on their faces. Depending on their age and their concept of self, they may not criticize themselves as adults would. They just pick up clues as to who they are, where they fit within their family, and what their value is to the world at large.
The more children see positive, attractive images of themselves, the more positive the influence on their sense of self and overall self-esteem. Seeing themselves in pictures is a powerful influence on how they view themselves not only today but possibly 20 years in the future.
The Importance of Family Portraits
Do you see where all of this leads to family portraits? It’s important for children to see images of themselves smiling, connecting with loved ones, and taking their place in the world. They need to remember feeling confident, accepted, and loved when those photos were snapped.
There’s no better way to deliver all of that and much more than to schedule a family photoshoot at least once a year. Make sure each of your children have the opportunity to take shots alone as well as with siblings, parents, and possibly members of the extended family.
Those photoshoots will create long-lasting family memories while giving children valuable views of themselves. If you allow your children some input on the clothing they wear or how their hair is styled, they will see elements of their developing personality in the images. As they grow, they can look back to their earlier pictures to gain a sense of self-acceptance and pride.
In addition to growing a sense of individuality, children will see themselves fitting within the larger family unit. They will know that they belong and are supported by a strong network of individuals who have tremendous value. That goes a long way to helping children feel confident in their own value and worthiness.
Parental Family Integration through Photography
Remember the scientific study that identified three components of healthy parental family integration? It’s amazing how well a simple family photoshoot checks all of those boxes. A family photoshoot involves participation of the entire family. When all parents are present, children have a healthy sense of family unity that will influence their self-esteem for years to come.
Family portraits are also strong displays of the social network within the family. When multiple generations are included, children may also get a strong sense of support surrounding the immediate family.
When you put all of this together, you see why family portraits are so critical to the development of healthy self-esteem in children. You want to provide your children with positive images of themselves while reinforcing the strength of your family as a larger unit.
When you’re ready to schedule your next family photoshoot, give us a call! We love watching our littlest clients grow through the years.