Family Portraits Boost Self Esteem

Experts say Family Portraits have a Positive Effect on Children’s Self Esteem

We all love having family portraits adorn our walls, however, experts say hanging portraits on your walls is serving a much higher purpose.

An interesting, and rarely discussed aspect of family photography, is how it instills our children with more confidence, and self worth. When asked,  How can family portraits assist in boosting a child’s self-esteem?, Dr. David Krauss, a licensed psychologist from Cleveland, Ohio said,  “ It is so helpful for children to see themselves as a valued, and important part of a family unit.  A photographer’s job is to create, and make the image look like a safe holding space for kids, where they are safe and protected. Kids get it on a really simple level.” Krauss is one of the earliest pioneers in using people’s personal photography and family albums to assist in mental health counseling and therapy. He co-authored “Photo Therapy and Mental Health” in 1983 that is considered a founding text for the use of photography in therapy.

Additionally, Judy Weiser, a psychologist, art therapist, and author says, “It lets children learn who they are, and where they fit,”  Weiser has spend more than 20 years  using photography to aid in treatment for her clients. She is considered to be the foremost authority on a treatment technique called PhotoTherapy. “They learn their genealogy, and the the uniqueness of their own family, and its story. When a child sees a family portrait with them included in the photograph they say to themselves: ‘These people have me as part of what they are, that’s why I belong here. This is where I come from.’”

Digitals or Prints?

Which will have the greatest positive impact for your child?

 It has become more common for us to enjoy, and store our portraits and photographs solely on our digital devices. So, we are left asking ourselves, Do digital images have the same positive impact on a child’s self esteem?  In response to that question, Dr. Krauss states, “My bias is very simple. I think they (family portraits) 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.”

The importance of printed photographs displayed in your living space was echoed by other experts.

“Displaying photos prominently in the home sends the message that our family and those in it are important to one another, and we honor the memories we have experienced,“ says Cathy Lander-Goldberg, a licensed clinical social worker and a professional photographer in St. Louis, Missouri and the director of Photo Explorations, which offers workshops to girls and women using portrait and journaling for self-reflection.  

Additionally, Dr. Krauss recommends having photographs of that child with their family placed in the child’s bedroom so it can be among the last things they see before sleep and the first thing they may see before beginning their day. “It says we love you, and care about you. You’re important.”

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