Growing up in my childhood house, we had a long corridor that lead from the living areas down to the bedrooms. You wouldn’t think it was a particularly important part of the house, even though it was one of the most used as we raced from one end to the other. I’m pretty sure those metres of carpet were far more worn than the rest of the house (but only because there was no carpet in the area leading to the fridge and pantry). One of the best things about the hallway, though, was that it was completely lined with photographs of us as a family. There were photos of us altogether with varying family members, and there were many photos of us individually at different ages and stages as well. Sometimes we’d rip past them without a second thought; other times we’d sit and look at them for a while. But they were always there, proudly framed and displayed as a gallery of our lives. Neither of my parents were particularly hung up on home décor or having stylish living spaces; but having photos of us on the walls was something important to them – and to us as kids.
As it turns out, there’s a link between displaying your family photos and your children’s self esteem. Having photos of your kids and your family on the walls not only says “we’re proud to be a family”, but also “you are important and valuable to us”. It makes sense – even as kids we understand that important things are displayed and cared for, so having cherished family photos where we can see them every day shows just how incredibly important family is.
You see, kids just want to be a part of something. They want to feel included, like they belong. Don’t we all? Feeling like a valued part of the family is incredibly important in helping our children having self-worth – and regularly seeing themselves in family photos is a powerful way to promote this feeling. Professor Geoff Beattie, Head of School and Dean of Psychological Sciences at the University of Manchester certainly thinks so: “We cannot underestimate the power of photographs to keep us feeling linked to others and belonging. They cement us into our networks. 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.”(1)
We’re incredibly lucky in this day and age that we have constant access to photographic equipment through our phones. Most newborns now have been photographed before they’re even 5 minutes old. This isn’t a bad thing – my kids certainly love looking through all their baby photos, and I love being able to capture all the little moments even if we’re out and about or I don’t have my camera handy. The problem is, though, that because we’re taking more photos than ever (and are generally busier too!), it’s incredibly easy to leave them sitting on our phones or computers because there are too many to choose to get printed, or we think “I’ll just wait until…”. Having loads of photos on your laptop or Facebook page isn’t quite the same though, is it? David Krauss, a psychologist from Ohio certainly doesn’t think so. “My bias is very simple,” he says. “I think 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.”(2)
So, where to display them? Although the lounge is a common place, we encourage to also consider other spaces – particularly bedrooms. Imagine your children waking up every single morning to a beautiful image that radiates their worth and connection with family. What an amazing message to send to them!
If getting photos taken and displayed has been on your to-do list for a while, now’s your chance and motivation to get it done! Investing in your family and showing your children how valuable they are will be something you all cherish for a lifetime.