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8 Things You Should Try To Avoid Doing To Your Children That You Think Are Acts of Love

8 Things You Should Try To Avoid Doing To Your Children That You Think Are Acts of Love

Parenting, in many ways, is the hardest activity to master. Ever.

There are many reasons why parenting is so tricky to get comfortable with. One of the biggest reasons is that no parenting book could possibly cover all of the different personalities that our children come to this world ready to express. So even when we figure out one technique that might work, our child soon changes and grows and needs something different from us.

Another reason is that parenting involves an enormous amount of energy.

Although some days with children may pass like a cool breeze, others feel like they may never end. Of course when you factor in home and job stress, and the fact that many parents come from dysfunctional families, then it’s easy to see how the choices we make as parents may not end up being in the best interests of our children.

Our intentions may be loving, but sometimes our actions fall short.

We can all benefit from practical suggestions for reducing stress, anxiety, and conflict in our homes and within our families. When we parent in a calm home environment, we will be more likely to make decisions that are better for both our children and ourselves.

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1. Do not make your children feel responsible for your feelings.

Although making our children feel guilty is one of the oldest parenting tricks in the book, it is not a good idea to make our children feel responsible for how we are feeling. We may feel it’s harmless to say to a child, “If you do this for me, I won’t be sad anymore,” but doing so does not reflect the reality that we ourselves are responsible for feeling sad or happy, not our children.

Guilting our children into acting the way we want them to teaches them they must be on the lookout for how to take care of other people’s feelings — and this may be too heavy a burden to bear as they go on to develop relationships with others.

2. Do not make them feel responsible for your actions.

Just as we should avoid making children feel responsible for our feelings, we should avoid making them feel responsible for our actions. We are adults, after all. When we demonstrate to our children that we have calm in our hearts and are in control of how we speak and behave, children feel safe and develop a feeling of calm within their own hearts.

When we lose control and then say “You made me scream at you,” then our children are forced to imagine themselves as more powerful than they really are. Instead of feeling calm in their hearts, they end up feeling saddled with guilt.

When you feel you have reached your limit, take a few minutes to regain your composure, and then decide how you’d like to explore the issues at hand together with your child.

3. Try to avoid yelling or using physical touch to get your point across or to get your child’s attention.

It is important to help keep your child’s environment as safe and calm as possible. When we speak to our children with a moderate tone and volume, our children are able to listen at their best. When we scream at them, our children can only listen through their own feelings of anxiety, which does not set them up well to absorb information.

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When we use our speech rather than our touch to communicate with our children, we allow them to feel safe physically and respected. This also, by the way, helps children learn how to negotiate and to cooperate with their siblings without yelling or touching each other, which does wonders for creating calm at home.

4. Don’t ignore signs that your child may be procrastinating.

If you sense your child is reluctant to get work done or is hesitating to make a choice or a change, use that sense to help your child figure out what is getting in the way. This may be difficult for you as a parent if you tend to procrastinate yourself, but helping your child find a path through difficult experiences will help him or her to avoid the stress of procrastinating.

5. Don’t try to micromanage your child’s life.

Parents use their most loving instincts when they help their children through life’s hurdles. We often try to spare them feelings of disappointment. We also try to ensure they have the best chances for personal success and fulfillment.

These efforts to protect our children from untoward circumstances may have costs themselves, however. When children are over-protected and micromanaged they may:

1. Not have faith in the decisions they make for themselves.

2. Expect success for themselves unreasonably.

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3. Become somewhat passive in their actions as they may expect that others will help them to manage their own lives.

Step back as a parent and assist rather than direct. Enjoy the results.

6. Don’t try to purchase your children’s love.

We all can enjoy good food, fun experiences, and new goodies, but we should try to avoid “feeding” our children these things as expressions of our love for them. When we do, our children learn that they are loved for who they are, they don’t need stuff to fill them up with a false feeling of love, and they will find love in themselves and in other people, where it is in great supply.

7. Don’t make yourself miserable in order to keep your children satisfied.

When parents come from dysfunctional families, they may feel powerfully driven to avoid having their own children experience the negative feelings they did when they were young. This is a natural and loving impulse.

What can be problematic is when parents “protect” their children by refusing to allow certain feelings and experiences into the home, for example, anger, conflict, or imperfection. If you find yourself rigidly trying to protect your vision of what your family should look like and you believe your family members might be upset over your plans, consider seeking professional guidance or counseling in order to relieve the stress that might remain from your own childhood.

You’ll be able to parent with much greater clarity and ease once you do.

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8. Don’t forget to take care of yourself.

All parents will, at some point, to choose their child’s best interest over their own. However, if this becomes routine, where the parent becomes overly self-sacrificing, stress will likely ensue in the home.

The parent will become stressed, frazzled, and resentful, and that will not be good for anyone in the family system. Show your children that they are important, but also remember to show them that you are important too. Important enough to have good boundaries, good self-care, and good judgment.

Have compassion for yourself as a parent and lend that self-compassion to your children when you are with them. Aim toward calm in the family environment, while understanding that there will be periods where calm may not be possible. Save your touch for warm embraces, congratulatory hugs, and genuine affection.

The intention you put into your parenting will enrich your experience tremendously.

Featured photo credit: Arguing Parents with Upset Little Girl via canva.com

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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