Can family photography provide a way to help our children’s self-esteem?

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As parents, we continuously grapple with how to protect our children’s mental health and self-esteem, an increasingly tricky proposition given the external pressures they face. However, we do have the power to ensure they feel loved and experience positive mental health at home.

One remarkably effective habit is photo therapy. This method involves the use of family photographs and videos to foster a sense of belonging and reinforce family bonds. Revisiting these memories as a family not only provides an opportunity for quality time together, but also visually and emotionally reinforces the child’s place in the family unit, contributing positively to their mental health. Photo therapy is a proactive technique that can enhance children’s satisfaction with their appearance and self-esteem.

While we can’t control every aspect of the external environment, we can significantly influence the nurturing space of our homes. The way we engage with our children, including the affirmation and attention we provide, can shape their self-perception, and have lasting effects on their emotional development. By integrating photo therapy into our parenting, we may offer our children a vital tool for developing resilience and a positive self-image that will serve them well into the future.

Exploring self-esteem and poor mental health in children

The wellbeing of children’s self-esteem is not a new concern, yet today’s social media landscape has seemingly magnified issues of self-image and mental health. Research from the mental health charity Stem4 suggests that a significant majority of children, some as young as 12, are unhappy with their body image and  feel embarrassed by the way they look. Furthermore, a high percentage report that social media contributes to stress, anxiety, and depression, even though nearly all admit to using it.

Research from BackThen found that parents are observing this self-conscious behaviour in their children. One parent commented: “They get embarrassed and uncomfortable. It is a very difficult time to be a child, the world places a lot of emphasis on image.”

Unaddressed, these challenges can escalate into serious health concerns, including weight problems and deteriorating mental health during the teenage years. Nearly all parents experience concern for their children facing issues like bullying, peer pressure, and other difficulties at school. But, children are more likely to be susceptible to these challenges if self-esteem issues are left unaddressed. The question arises: what can parents do to help their children navigate these issues?

A study by Imperial College London underscores the importance of nurturing children’s self-esteem and satisfaction with their appearance from a young age. This foundation can be a strong defence against the mental health challenges that often intensify during teenage years. In a society where social media amplifies concerns about physical appearance, actively working against weight stigma and promoting positive body image has never been more vital.

Parents are instrumental in this process. By instilling in children the belief that their value transcends physical appearance, parents can make a meaningful difference. Regular affirmations and assurances of love and worth can have an enduring and positive effect on a child’s mental wellbeing.

Photo therapy: providing a sense of belonging

Photo therapy is a beneficial yet often neglected activity that parents can include in their family routine. Introducing children to their own photographs, particularly funny and silly ones, could potentially make them less concerned about their image as they grow older. Sharing and enjoying these moments from a younger age can turn potential embarrassments into fond memories.

Revisiting family photographs together is more than just reminiscing; it’s an act of strengthening family ties. Data from BackThen highlights the positive impact this can have on a child’s mood, with 90% of parents reporting their child smiles or laughs when seeing their own images.

The same research found that 89% of parents believe that viewing family photos boosts their child’s feeling of being part of the family. In addition, numerous psychological and sociological studies have demonstrated the positive influence that a strong family bond has on children’s mental health. The long-term benefits of such a connection include reduced signs of depression and anxiety and an elevated sense of self-esteem.

This sense of belonging is vitally important. Professor Geoffrey Beattie, an internationally recognised psychologist explains why this is the case: “When children grow up surrounded by photographs, it gives them a richer understanding of where they come from, which helps with confidence.”

Boosting self-confidence in children

Amidst social media’s challenging impact on young people’s self-esteem, the role of the family environment is more crucial than ever. Photo therapy presents a simple yet effective way for families to reinforce a positive sense of self. By sharing and reflecting on family photos, children can develop a stronger sense of where they belong and who they are.

Looking at photos isn’t just a walk down memory lane; it’s a step towards building self-confidence. The practice can help children feel less anxious about their image and more connected to their family’s story. Above all, it is about creating a strong foundation for children to fall back on when times get tough. For instance, when they are dealing with exams, friendship troubles, or even heartbreak. 

Pete Triplow

In a digital era where social media scrutiny is intense, it’s important to keep reinforcing our children’s self-worth through our actions and words. As parents, we have the power to help our kids build up their resilience and self-image in a meaningful way, preparing them to face the world with confidence and a clear sense of their own value.

Article written by BackThen Co-Founder Pete Triplow

The post Can family photography provide a way to help our children’s self-esteem? appeared first on Wellbeing Magazine.

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