The kids are alright

When it comes to family photographs, parents really can worry about whether their children are going to be amiable, or not in the mood. And when kids aren’t in the mood, they let you know about it.

That can make things like photo sessions seem like a huge cost for a challenging day, and will you be happy with the results at the end?

I have three children of my own, and at the time of writing, they are a teenager, a preschooler, and a toddler respectively. In addition, I volunteer at my local Brownie unit (aged 7 to 10), and I’m the coordinator for a parent and toddler group. So I have some idea of what it can be like and every age group comes with its own set of challenges.

So what’s the answer? Go with the flow.

So many times I’ve wanted my kids to do something a particular way, and they’ve not. I’ve got stressed about it, they get upset… and the only thing I can realistically control is my reaction to it.

Have you heard the fable about the sun and the wind, competing to get a man to remove his coat? It applies to children. Coax them gently, and you’re more likely to get positive results than if you are strong and overpowering.

When it comes to joining in fun things, it’s often better if you get involved yourself. Show how much fun it is, realx, get into it, and become a big kid. However, sometimes children may respond with “I don’t want to”, and I think sometimes it’s worth respecting that and finding out what they want to do.

Good photos aren’t always about keeping your children in matching, pristine outfits. The best photos I think come from kids who are enjoying themselves, doing things they like, dressed in clothes they feel comfortable in. Children of all ages like feeling comfortable in themselves.

Finding activities that are fun and enjoyable doesn’t have to mean a big adventure. Nor does it have to be about sitting static and posing particularly if your kid is forever on the go. Let them explore, let them do things they like, run around, play on scooters or skateboards. Keep activities simple but also familiar and they’ll feel much more in their comfort zone.

The really lovely photos are about the connection between you. I’m not a huge fan of telling kids to say “cheese” for the camera. False smiles and posing for my benefit don’t make for the photos you end up loving most. So if your kid is happier looking at you than at a stranger with a camera – that’s totally fine. The best photos are those that show people’s personalities. Children have personalities, so let them show that through their pictures.