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10 Small Grumbles Hidden In The Heart Of Every Parent With Kids

10 Small Grumbles Hidden In The Heart Of Every Parent With Kids

Quite a lot of movies, books, and even songs represent parents as saints or people with few personal needs. Meanwhile, in reality, most parents feel annoyed, frustrated, and even driven nuts when dealing with their children. We are only human after all. The little people in our lives are extremely proficient at finding our weak spots.  They seem to instinctively know just how to get our goat.

1. You never wake up naturally

I never wake up by myself. I never even wake up with the alarm clock. I’m usually woken up by a small face appearing in front of mine and loudly asking, “Are you awake, Mom?” From the moment you become a parent, the days of waking up naturally are gone. Everyone acts like that’ll change. Here’s a newsflash – it won’t.

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2. You never stop cleaning up messes

It never fails. Your little one asks for a glass of water or milk and two seconds later – it’s on the floor. Or down your shirt. Or in your shoes. You might think you’re clever and put the liquid in a sippy cup. It doesn’t matter. They will find a way to spill it.

3. You never get to eat dessert without sharing

My kids are experts at wolfing down their own desserts, giving me sad eyes, and asking for “just one bite” of mine. I have been known to actually shield my dessert from them with my hands while growling, “Get away from my cake.” It’s like Lord of the Flies when it comes to dessert and kids. Ever tried eating a piece of cake in front of your two year-old and offering them fruit as a “healthy snack option instead? You only try that one once and live to tell of it.

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4. You can’t leave home without packing half of the house

Leaving your home used to be so quick and easy. You’d grab your purse, maybe a drink for the road, and you’d walk out the door. Now you need at least 30 minutes to prepare. The world might end if you forget a sippy cup, a change of diapers, wipes, snacks, toys, bottles, a special blanky, a change of clothes, and so on. Leaving your home requires roughly the same amount of planning that some military missions do. There are no quick errands anymore. If you get brave enough (IE: crazy enough) and leave the house without the all important diaper bag, you know your kid is going to have a blowout so epic that they’ll be talking about it at the grocery store for some weeks to come. Trust me, I know this from personal experience.

5. You can’t have nice things

Do you have a beautiful and intricate rug? Not anymore. With kids running around, you might as well go ahead and rub chocolate all over it yourself. Perhaps you have a priceless heirloom mirror from your grandmother? Just break it now. That’s what it’ll look like in the near future if you leave it in your home with kids around. No matter how much you love your little rug rats, rest assured that they will trash everything in your home. It’s their job.

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6. You never pee alone

For some reason, young children think that going to the bathroom is a group activity. You think you’re going to steal away for 2 blessed minutes to pee in peace – you’re not. They will find you. And they will have urgent needs the minute you sit down. They need a snack “NOW!” They broke your favorite vase. They lit the kitchen on fire. If you don’t get off the toilet, what’s next?

7. You find that vomit is magically attracted to your body

It starts when kids are tiny babies. They spit up on you – a lot. And it usually happens right after you’ve put on a fresh shirt or dropped the burping cloth. Then they become toddlers and get the stomach flu for the first time. You know what comes next – they throw up on you. You tell yourself it’s because they don’t understand the feeling of nausea and what usually happens next. Then they become preschoolers and they come into your room to tell you they don’t feel well – and throw up all over you. Even elementary school kids seem to do this. Parenting is rife with puke. It nearly always ends up all over you.

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8. You repeat yourself 10 billion times

Ever tried to teach a small child manners? Or tried to explain why dragons can’t be pets? It takes a special kind of patience to torture yourself daily with explaining the same things over, and over, and over again. The next day it’ll start all over again. Ever had your four year-old give you a puzzled look when you say, “I didn’t hear the magic word” for the twelfth time that day? You patiently explain that when you ask for more milk, you have to use the word “please”. They will look at you in confusion. I swear.

9. You reheat your coffee at least 10 times before you drink it

Remember the days when you sat down to the paper and a steaming cup of Joe on Sunday mornings? You could relax and drink your delicious beverage while it was hot. Once you have kids, you have two choices. You either chug your coffee while it’s so hot you actually get third degree burns on your tongue, OR you drink it in small sips in between its trips back and forth from the microwave.

10. You face resistance to sleep every single day

No matter how tired your kid is, they will fight sleep. In fact, there seems to be a direct correlation between tiredness and sleep resistance. As in, the more tired and hyper your kid is, the more viciously she will fight sleep. Your kiddo will always come up with some amazing reasons she can’t go to bed just yet. Ever heard the one about how there is a dragon in her room that only comes out when it’s dark and no parents are around? Or how he is so thirsty he might just die without water? Or how one more bedtime story will surely bring immediate and glorious sleep? Or how it’s not fair that grown-ups get to stay up late and do amazingly fun things like the dishes? I could go on and on… like an annoying little (lovable) kid.

Featured photo credit: Man and child at Occupy Wall Street/Timothy Krause via flickr.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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