Testy Toddlers: Making the most of your Family Portrait Sessions
You can usually hear it in action at grocery stores, restaurants and theme parks. Toddlers and parents engaged in a power-struggle over this or that. Kids trying to get their way, parents attempting to enforce boundaries. Some parents call it the “terrible-two’s” or maybe the dreaded “three-nager” phase.
Here, we call her Testy-Gillespie.
Today I am writing a bit about toddlers asserting their independence and how to gain their cooperation. They are testing boundaries, making sure rules are still rules and finding their place in this crazy world. I can understand why tempers can flare. I mean all I want is for this child to eat a vegetable. And all she wants is a graham cracker. Its a serious daily battle!
When it comes to family photo shoots, the Testy Phase can definitely rear its cute little curly-haired head!
Parents are usually on edge a bit already at portrait shoots. And understandably so! Its is not easy to get everyone coordinated, cleaned up, and out the door to battle traffic. Not to mention actually arriving on time to a photo shoot that is not inexpensive and is hard to reschedule.
And wow, do kids pick up on their parents’ moods. A moody parent = a moody kid. Every time.
Here are a few tips for helping to create an atmosphere where the Testy Toddler will cooperate a little better for a family portrait session:
- Pick a compatible location. Somewhere pretty, yes, but also a place your child likes & is compatible with their age. Don’t take a child who hates sand (or will eat sand) to the beach. Trust me, its not worth the effort. San Diego has so many great places. Just ask for recommendations.
- Be realistic about scheduling. Take sleep times and meal times into account and work with your photographer to find a location that will work for the times your child will be at their best. You don’t need to do a 7pm sunset shoot if your kid is usually asleep for the night at 6:30pm.
- Feed the beast. And that means the parents too. Do not allow anyone to arrive hungry to a portrait session. Bring extra snacks and don’t worry about a little gummy-bear bribe if need be. One day will not create a new bad habit.
- Roll with it. A toddler likes to climb, run, and stare at their shadow. Its ok. As long as everyone else looks good in the photo, a toddler can be “captured” the split second they do look in the right direction. Its ok if they aren’t perfect and smiling in every shot. Really! What doesn’t work is everyone yelling at the child to smile and look at the camera. It is overwhelming and anxiety inducing for everyone. And those people coaxing and coaching are not looking their best in the photos.
- Make it a game. Toddlers love games. They love to be silly and loud and make up funny noises and words. Use this to your advantage in getting cooperation from your little. Instead of threats, try silly songs. Make it fun and your kids will usually follow suit.
- Leave much earlier than you normally would. Plan to be very early. Get your child dressed after you’ve arrived and they had a chance to run around a bit after getting out of the car. It is much better for stress levels to be 30 min early than 15 min late.
The Fall Portrait season is booking fast. I hope these tips help your family have a fund and relaxing session this year!