Here’s how displaying photos in your home benefit children and family bonds
Printed photographs can trigger priceless memories and contribute to one’s sense of identity and help to strengthen a family bond. A young person without a strong sense of belonging is likely to be more susceptible to peer pressure and miss out on reliving cherished memories. Ensuring your home has a variety of family photographs clearly on display nurtures happy memories, helps children feel part of the family and deal with more challenging life periods.
These are the views of Dr Amanda Gummer who has more than 20 years’ worth of experience working with children and families.
In a recent collaboration with Canon, Dr Gummer explored the psychological and physical effect photography and photographs has on family bonds and how they initiate the recollection of key life moments.
“In today’s digital age where people are capturing more images than ever before, it’s important that families reflect on memorable photographs outside the realms of social media,” she says. “The emotional value of a printed photograph far exceeds that of a digital download and helps bring families closer together and share their life experiences.”
Given the importance of having physical photography in the home, Dr Gummer gives her tips on how to maximize family imagery to benefit the whole family.
#1 Display family photographs in easy-to-see places
Family photographs should be located in places where people see them on a daily basis without having to turn on a device, scroll through a gallery or switch on a computer.
For children in particular, photographs provide comfort and reassurance that family members are valued and important to each other (Chris Cummins, photographic artist, 2015). Placing printed photographs on a child’s bedroom bookshelf means they can see the pictures every morning when they wake or every evening before they go to sleep. Making this imagery form part of the child’s daily routine, acts as a reminder that they are loved.
According to research, we have more brain cells dedicated to vision than all other senses combined, which makes photography an extremely powerful medium (Dr David Walsh, 2015). When your child views a photograph, encourage them to pick themselves out to someone who’s not present in the photograph. This form of memory stimulus helps build their sense of identity, helping children recognise their own value and increasing self-esteem as they get older.
#3 Capture photographs of every day moments, not just special milestones
Photographs of memorable life events and fun days out play a key role in shaping a child’s development and memory bank (Chris Cummins, photographic artist, 2015). Physical photographs encourage family members to reflect on cherished moments together and fondly recall past emotions. While images of key milestones like weddings and birthdays are important, you should also display photographs that capture everyday moments, such as a family picnic, to reinforce a child’s sense of security in their surroundings.
#4 Use photography to fuel your child’s imagination
A key part of pre-school experience and learning is being able to relate pictures and photographs to real places and objects (Authors Hohmann & Weikart, 1995). Printed photographs enable children to do this, as they can touch them and express how they relate to real life. For example, a photograph taken in the park may spark fond memories of learning to ride a bike or playing on the swings with siblings. Once a month, set aside time to go through physical photographs together and encourage your child to take the lead in telling the story behind the picture.
#5 Create a life story book to celebrate the past
A life story book can be compiled using a scrapbook or photograph album, and should include a mixture of physical photographs and information documenting a family history or important life stages. As Cathy Glass, a foster carer and author, states, children’s memories can sometimes become confused or lost and this can negatively impact their sense of identity or self-worth. Creating a life story book from a pile of printed photographs is an excellent way of helping to fill in the gaps for children and make sense of their past.
Dr Gummer outlines the top ten photographs every family should display and explains the psychology behind where they should be displayed in the home and office.
- A candid photograph: Natural photos reflect a person’s personality, whether it’s an energetic toddler running around or capturing someone by surprise, helping children value the diverse and unique people around them.
- A baby photograph: Children love seeing themselves as a baby in photographs; this helps them to develop a sense of identity.
- The family unit photograph: A family picture reminds a child that they are loved and have a central place within the unit.
- A club/team photograph: A team sports or classmate photograph helps a child feel part of their friendship group and increases their confidence levels.
- An everyday photograph: Activities such as playing after school, walking the dogs or helping mum gardening are important to reinforce a child’s routine and reaffirm lasting memories.
- A special day out photograph: Visits to a theme park, farm or seaside give children experiences they can talk about and share with other family members.
- Pet photographs: All family members can build special bonds with pets – they are a very important part of the family, so should also feature in a frame.
- A photograph with mom: Moms are often the ones behind the camera; try to capture a candid photo instead of a selfie to reinforce the strength of this relationship.
- A photograph with dad: Following child birth, often photographs will feature the mother and her child. It’s also very important for the dad to be photographed with his baby son or daughter to show equal status and importance.
- An extended family photograph: Don’t forget about grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins (especially those who aren’t seen very often) – they are all an important part of a child’s upbringing and identity.
#1 Kitchen: Photographs of holidays and memorable family meals. Being in the kitchen and cooking food will trigger off happy memories of past holidays and special family occasions such as dad’s 50th birthday dinner.
#2 Living room: Variety of different photographs that summarise family life. A gallery wall of friends who matter to the family and are important figures in the life of the children.
#3 Hallway: Create a special wall for photos that is regularly updated. Taking photos on a camera, printing them off and changing them monthly will keep the hallway looking fresh.
#4 Study: When working from home, family photos are an important distraction away from the pressures of work. Select photographs that ease the stresses of work such as a family holiday or relaxing imagery.
#5 Child’s bedroom: A child’s bedroom should be both colourful and creative. Allow your child to choose their favourite photos and assemble them creatively on a board or bookshelf. The most important factor is that the child has control of the photos that resonates to them.