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10 Things You Shouldn’t Do To Your Children That You Think Are Acts of Love

10 Things You Shouldn’t Do To Your Children That You Think Are Acts of Love

Quite possibly, the most difficult job on Earth is being a parent. It doesn’t require any sort of licensure, schooling, or previous experience, and yet, we’re supposed to be masters at it. Not only is there no one right way to raise a child, but there are also tons of advice columns and websites offering contrasting opinions. Some long-held parenting philosophies can actually be detrimental to a child’s upbringing, such as those detailed in the following list.

1. Making your child the center of your world

Okay, newborn babies should definitely be the center of a parent’s world. As they grow, it becomes increasingly important to allow them time to grow as individuals. Not only that, but they must also come to the realization that you have a life outside of them. If you’re constantly dropping what you’re doing to cater to their needs (or more specifically, their wants), they’ll end up relying on you for everything. As they grow into young adults who are more than capable of fending for themselves most of the time, it’s important you let them do just that.

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2. Ignoring positive behavior

Children need positive reinforcement on a constant basis. For the most part, they honestly do not know right from wrong until it’s taught to them. I know in the real world you’ll never get pulled over by a cop and given money for stopping correctly at a stop sign, but you need to praise your children for a job well done — every time. Something as simple as, “Thank you so much for washing the dishes,” can go a long way. You can’t just assume your kid knows they’re doing a good job. Letting them know will build self-confidence within them, and they will ultimately end up doing good without needing praise.

3. Acknowledging negative behavior in unproductive ways

On the other hand, whenever your child does something they shouldn’t have, the knee-jerk reaction is to lay into them. While it definitely is important to respond to negative behavior and correct it, it should be done in an emotionless manner. Instead of flying off the handle, calmly state what was done wrong, remove the stimulus from the child (or the child from the stimulating area), and move on. If a child is constantly being yelled at, they will simply get used to it, and not really care whenever it happens. Being calm and rational in the face of negative behavior is the best way to nip it quickly in the bud.

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4. Not limiting behavior

You want your children to enjoy life as much as they possibly can, but as a parent, it’s your job to teach your children how to act in different situations. It’s definitely okay to put on old clothes and go splash in a puddle; however, it’s not okay to do this in your church clothes. It’s okay to talk while watching TV at home, but not while out at a movie. The best way to teach children about proper “time and place” is by demonstrating it yourself. They’ll always follow your lead, so make sure you set a good example.

5. Bending the rules or being lenient

If you have a set of rules for your household, it’s incredibly important that you always follow through with the consequences if the rules are broken, no matter what the case may be. If one parent bends the rules just once, the other will forever be known as the “bad guy”. This will cause more problems in the long run for the child, as well as the adult relationship. You have to be consistent in your punishments, or your child will learn that they might be able to get away with something at certain times, and not others. Put your foot down, and make sure they know who’s boss!

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6. Picking unwinnable fights

We all have heard the saying “choose your battles.” With children, this is of utmost importance. You should never stoop to a child’s level when a point of argument arises. Putting up a defense against a childish argument will only entice them more. Simply explain that you will not fight about whatever it is they want to argue about. It’s that simple: they want to argue, and you won’t stand for it. If they won’t eat their dinner, that’s totally fine. Eventually, they will if they get hungry enough. If they won’t do their homework, that’s fine; but there’s no Wii U tonight. Again, emotionless responses work the best to avoid escalating an already tough situation.

7. Not holding them accountable

I know we want to protect our children, and we usually see them as perfect angels. However, that’s not always the case, of course. They will cause trouble at some point in their young lives. Make sure they understand the consequences of their actions. This goes along with being consistent, but it even goes a bit farther. Look at the situation objectively. Understand that, though they are your children, their actions affect others that don’t care about them as much as you do, and will not think twice about punishing them for negative actions. Be sure to make them understand this as well.

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8. Giving in to what they want

Again, going along with staying consistent, you must never give in to their demands. In fact, children should never demand anything from their parents. No matter how much they pester you, it’s essential to remain persistent that your first ruling will be your final ruling. If you give in at some point, they’ll simply learn what your breaking point is, and skip right to it whenever they want something. If you say “No”, mean it!

9. Rewarding them incorrectly

Okay, I’m all for letting kids have some ice cream as a reward once in a while, but they can’t learn that tangible rewards come with every accomplishment. Doing so only makes them work for the reward. Instead, help them focus on how much they grew while completing whatever task they were working on. The reward should be their improvement, and the pleasure that comes from a job well done. Like I said, though: there’s nothing wrong with a little pick-me-up here and there!

10. Staying out of their lives

As children grow into adolescents, they often just want to be left alone. Unfortunately, this will simply further the divide between parent and child. While it’s important to give them space, it’s also important to be there for them, even when they say they don’t want you to be. Showing unconditional love is the best way to ensure a strong relationship with your child as they grow into an adult. They might screw up once in a while, and you might be just as upset with them as they are with you. However, these are the times you need to be there the most for your child, to ensure they grow up knowing they’ll always have your love and support.

Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm9.staticflickr.com

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Last Updated on January 15, 2019

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

Many of us feel awkward talking to strangers. I’m a very outgoing person, even though I sometimes feel uncomfortable walking up to someone and asking a question or starting a conversation. I consider myself pretty high up on the extrovert meter. So what is it that makes us pause and become worried or anxious about talking to people we don’t know?

In this article, we will discuss why we feel this way as well as some tips on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Step right up, don’t be shy!

Why We Feel Awkward Talking to Strangers

The next time you feel uncomfortable talking to a stranger, tell yourself that’s completely normal. There are numerous reasons why it’s actually natural to feel awkward talking to strangers:

Our Stress Levels Rise Around Strangers

Numerous studies have show that our levels of cortisol go up when we are around strangers.[1] Cortisol is the hormone inside of us which produces stress responses.[2]
So there you go, right off the bat you can see part of your standard response to strangers is due to a chemical reaction!

A very interesting by product of increased cortisol is that it makes us less empathetic. More than likely this can be traced to our evolution. The increase in the cortisol and the corresponding decrease in empathy makes us want to stay away from strangers. We are biologically wired to feel concern around strangers.

Evolution Taught Us to Be Wary

Evolution has also taught us to be wary of strangers in general. Humans as a whole have spent a large chunk of their history banded together in small protective groups. We did this in order to help protect each other and maximize resources.

When you think about it in this context, outsiders to our small groups or strangers are considered potential threats. Fear of strangers is common across almost all human cultures.

Culturally Conditioned

We can also thank our society for helping us feel uncomfortable and sometimes afraid of strangers. The term “stranger danger” is something most of us can relate to either growing up or raising kids. Or both.

I remember hearing this from my parents, mostly about not getting in someone’s car I didn’t know. And as the father of 2 teenage girls, you can be sure I’ve talked to them about this very concept more times that they want to hear.

The thought that strangers can be dangerous is built into us as it is. Toss in the amplification of the media on strangers doing things such as kidnapping kids and it takes it to an even higher level.

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Now that we’ve reviewed some of the reasons why we are nervous, let’s look at why you should talk to strangers more.

Benefits of Getting over the Awkwardness

Let’s take a quick look at some of the advantages of how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward. These are some high level benefits of talking to strangers.

1. Broadens Your Network

After you talk to someone, you didn’t know previously they become someone you know at least a little bit. This alone helps broaden your network of people you know. This is helpful in many ways whether it is work related or socially related.

2. Improves Your Communication Skills

I am a huge proponent of the value of solid communication skills and have written about it often. The more you talk to people, especially people you don’t know, the better your communication skills become.

Interacting with a wider variety of people will bring the added benefit of improving your communication skills.

3. Continually Learning

So many of us don’t actively seek to learn new things. This is one of the primary keys to staying engaged in life and our own personal self fulfillment.

Almost every time I speak to someone I didn’t know previously, I’ve learned something new. When we speak to strangers, it pushes us out of our comfort zones and we tend to learn new things.

4. Increases Self Confidence

Every time we learn to do something we were previously anxious about, we feel better about ourselves.

Forcing ourselves to talk to strangers will lead to increased self confidence. As we get more and more comfortable doing something that previously made us feel awkward, our self confidence will go up and up.

So, how to talk to strangers to reap these benefits?

How to Talk to Strangers

Here are some tips to on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

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1. Say Hello

Putting “say hello” first may seem a bit obvious but let’s take a deeper look. Much of the social awkwardness when speaking to strangers is simply breaking the ice. The first words that will engage someone.

Most people will respond when someone says hello or hi to them. And those that don’t, you probably don’t want to talk to anyway.

Practice being the person that opens the door to a conversation. Say hello.

2. Ask About Them

Something that I have noticed over the years is that people love to talk about themselves. Even fairly private people tend to open up when asked about events in their lives.

You can ask leading questions that get people to talk about themselves and recent events. Things like recent movies watched or the summer vacation are great to get someone talking.

As a father, I also know that people love to talk about their kids. Asking about kids is a fairly easy topic to bring up and in general, most people will expound upon all the great things their kids do or are involved with.

3. Just Do It

One of the biggest reasons we don’t do things we want to or know we should is because we overthink it. Quit thinking about it so much and just do it.

When you give yourself the time to analyze every little angle about a situation, you also give plenty of time to talk yourself out of it. You’ll wind up thinking what if this happens or what if that happens.

Try to force yourself to jump right in without thinking about it too much. Whenever I have done this, I always feel great about it afterwards, no matter how it turned out.

4. Don’t Take It Personal

One of the greatest lessons in life I ever learned was don’t take anything personally. We all go through life with our own sets of experiences and see things through our own lens. The way people react to different situations has almost nothing to do with us. It has to do with previous experiences and the way people feel about things other than us.

When someone’s reaction isn’t what you’d hoped or expected, chances are it has nothing to do with you. Remember that and keep it in context.

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5. Get a Chuckle If Possible

I used the word chuckle purposely because it makes me laugh. In my opinion, it’s one of those funny words. We all like to laugh because it makes us feel good. And when someone makes us laugh, we typically remember those people in a positive light.

One of the best ways to make a conversation easy and free flowing is to get some laughter going. It doesn’t mean you have to be the master joke teller or anything. See if you can work in a way to make the person you are talking to get a smile or some laughter in. In fact, laughing at yourself maybe a nice try.

6. Detach

A great feeling is when you don’t mind which way something turns out, that you will be fine no matter what happens. Kind of like when I watch my two favorite football teams play against each other. I don’t really care who wins, I just want a fun game.

Treat talking to strangers the same way. You don’t really care how the conversation goes because you are detaching from the outcome. Make it a fun time with yourself and if the conversation goes well, awesome! If not then no big deal, move on.

7. Share Your Stories

Well, all like to feel connected to other people. And many times we wind up hanging out with people that we have things in common with. No surprise here.

To help with how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward, tell stories that have commonalities with the person you are talking to. Kids are an easy one. I have a daughter who was a competitive cheerleader and now plays club volleyball. I have instant connection and stories with strangers I speak with who have kids that play sports. It’s easy to relate to.

So when you are speaking to a stranger and you have a story or mutual connection point, bring it up.

8. Give a Compliment

Almost everyone likes hearing a compliment, whether they admit to it or not. As a general rule, we don’t give out enough compliments. It’s amazing how one small remark someone tosses your way about how good you look can literally make your entire day.

When you are speaking with someone you don’t know, see if you can work a compliment in. Nothing creepy here. Not a good idea to tell someone you just met that they are the prettiest or handsomest person you ever met. However, if you can share how you like their tattoo or shoes or something like that, it will help put the conversation into an easy going, smiling place.

9. Relax Your Body Language

If you go into a situation all worried and nervous, it shows on your body. Your shoulders are tensed up, there’s a look of consternation on your face, things like that.

When you engage a stranger in conversation, make it a point to relax your body language. Take a deep breath before you engage the person, let your body relax, and put a smile on your face. This will help relax you and it has the added benefit of putting the other person more at ease.

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If they see that you are relaxed, it helps them relax. Plus having open, engaging body language is very conducive to inviting someone to open up into a conversation with you.

10. Practice, Practice, Practice

Like everything else in life, talking to strangers gets easier with practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

Make it a point to talk to several strangers each week and it will definitely help you relax as you do it more and more.

After a while, it will become something you don’t even think about, you just do it. And that takes all of the awkwardness out of being in these type situations.

The Bottom Line

As we have seen, it is perfectly natural to feel awkward talking to strangers. We are biologically built that way and we have our own society constantly warning us how dangerous it is. It’s no wonder we feel awkward talking to strangers!

There are numerous benefits to learning to be more comfortable talking to strangers. See if you can employ some of the techniques mentioned to learn how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Once you start practicing speaking with strangers more often and utilizing some of the tips, you will become more comfortable doing so. This in turn will lead to a learned new skill and increased self confidence.

Remember, everyone you know was a stranger at one time. Now get out there and make some new friends.

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

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