Think of our media-saturated culture and the pictures resonating from it–pictures in the form of advertising, that relay messages of how to think, look, act, what to eat, what’s hot and what’s not. etc. Whether the images are still (magazine, billboard ads) or moving (video, television ads), our lives are bombarded with pictures, that for many rule their lives and decisions. The good news is that pictures, in the form of photographs, are useful in helping children build self-esteem and self-confidence and strengthen their sense of connectedness in the family.
Photographs of a child, which portray caring, nurturing, love, and success, are perfect to display in the child’s bedroom, the family room, and even on the refrigerator.
These types of images are subconscious boosters to feelings of belonging, connectedness, and importance. Each member of a family, no matter the age, needs to feel they are a vital and important part of that unit.
So. what type of photographs are these and when should they be taken? It does go beyond pulling out the camera just for the usual special occasion, holiday, and event photos. With today’s popularity of digital cameras and camera phones, image-making is now more spontaneous, with relative ease in capturing and then downloading to a computer for printing (or having it printed at your favorite printing place).
Some of these picture-making times include:
The important thing is how to strategically use the photos to help support a sense of belonging and self-confidence. This is where something like a “family gallery wall” where individual and group photos of family members are displayed, are a grade above an occasionally perused photo album.
Another excellent place for display is somewhere near the child’s bed. Child psychotherapist Stephanie Marston, whose seminars and books offer parents strategies for enhancing their child’s self-esteem, suggests in her book “The Magic of Encouragement,” placing two pictures of a child next to his or her bed. One should show the child happily engaged in an activity such as riding a bike, playing softball, etc. The other should show family togetherness.
“Why put them next to their beds?” she asks. “Research has shown that the 30-minute time period just before bed is when children are more receptive and listen and absorb more than any other time. Put those photos of your children being capable and loved next to their beds,” she deduces, “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.”
Marston underscores her position by pointing to other studies showing that during sleep, the subconscious reviews the day’s events up to five times except for the last 30 minutes. That half-hour replays at least 10 times. Her conclusion: Those two pictures by the bed help reinforce a child’s feeling of being both loved and capable.
© 2011 Joan Rudder-Ward