Your probably remember that moment – about six weeks after your baby entered the world – when she first looked up at you and smiled, and you’ll no doubt remember how it made your heart skip a beat. So it shouldn’t come as any surprise that smiling is at the core of a happy and successful life.
While it might seem like a simple skill, the UK has some very sorry smile statistics. In one survey, it was demonstrated that out of 100 people you smile at, 70 people would smile back in Bristol, 18 in London and only four in Edinburgh. The benefits of smiling have been proven for many decades and in 1907 the French physiologist Dr Israel Waynbaum discovered how facial muscles trigger specific brain neurotransmitters. A smile triggers the release of happy, healing hormones such as endorphins and immune-boosting T-cells, while a frown triggers stress hormones. Smile therapy has also been shown to encourage the production of hormones that reduce pain, accelerate healing and stabilise mood.
So the best thing your child can take with them to school each day is a natural, relaxed smile and a sunny disposition. Not only will she feel more confident and relaxed, other children will also feel a sense of affinity. And, with a winning smile, she will never suffer when it comes to that end-of-year school photograph.“
A photograph of a child smiling naturally captures the character of the child,” says Paul Williamson, the Smile Coach for Venture New Generation Portraits. He has taught more than 400 Venture photographers how to seize the moment and has plenty of tips to offer parents. “Babies need to interact with you,” says Paul. If you’re the photographer, get down to their level. Toddlers usually respond if you play with a favourite toy, while cheeky four-year-olds tend to laugh if you say ‘Don’t smile’; just say the opposite of what you really want. And you can usually get a reaction from a difficult six-year old by giving them an old grandma or grandpa name and saying, “Give us a smile Grumpy Gladys”. Of course, if children ever refuse, just remind them that it only takes 26 muscles to smile and 62 muscles to frown.
- The happiness factor
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Venture New Generation Portraits www.thisisventure.co.uk
This article previously appeared in Junior magazine as a print article