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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 March 30, 2020

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

2. Be Honest

A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

4. Succeed at Something

When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

Final Thoughts

When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
[2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
[3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
[4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
[5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
[6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
[7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
[8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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