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17 Things Only Parents Of Boys Can Relate To

17 Things Only Parents Of Boys Can Relate To

From the moment you find out you’re going to be a parent, your entire world changes forever. You see new delights and new threats around every corner, and you learn things that no one else in the world knows. That’s especially true for parents of boys.

Of course, daughters will teach you plenty, too, but there are just some experiences that only people with sons can relate to.

For instance, as parents of boys, we know that:

1. Boys Are Not Indestructible

Sons are rough-and-tumble, but they are still human. No matter how big and strong our boys get, and no matter how macho they may act, they get hurt just like the rest of us. As parents, we need to master the art of monitoring their physical and mental pains without babying them through every crisis.

2. Boys Have Drama, Too

People who aren’t parents or who have only girls might assume that raising a son is drama-free, but we know better. They may not suffer from the same type of gossip and friendship crises that plague girls, but our sons generate plenty of emotional turmoil as they crash through childhood and adolescence.

From picky eating to late homework to bullying, a boy will keep your house stirred up at regular intervals for 18 years (or more).

3. Boys Always Need Us

Little boys have no trouble letting us know what they need, whether it’s a clean diaper or a sippy cup of milk. As they grow and start doing their own thing, it’s easy to think that our sons don’t need us anymore, but that’s not true.

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They may not rely on us every second of the day anymore, but their needs are deeper and more urgent than ever before. This really hits home the first time your son gets his heart broken and you have to pick up the pieces.

4. Boys Leave Legos Everywhere

Every single movie and every single television show that your son has ever watched or ever will watch has its own Lego universe of snap-together toys. They come in nifty little kits that a boy can put together in an hour or so, and then entropy takes over and he begins to pick apart the bricks, shard by shard, until your house is carpeted in thousands of foot-slicing knobs and corners.

They always seem to pierce your heel while you’re trying to get ready for work, too.

5. Boys Challenge Your Thinking

We want our sons to grow up strong and independent, and that means being able to let them form their own opinions and back them up. By the time they’re teenagers, most boys are only too happy to practice this skill on their parents, challenging just about every idea that comes out of our mouths.

It’s not all stubbornness and bluster, though – if you listen carefully to your son, he might just change your mind on some topics you hold dear.

6. Boys Grunt

Listening to your son talk with a friend on the phone is like eavesdropping on a couple of cavemen. A series of grunts and pauses somehow translates into plans to meet at the ball diamond after school, and that mode of communication trickles into other areas of life.

Try not to get too frustrated when every question is answered with “yeah” or “uh-huh” because there is a layer of real meaning just below the surface. Our job as parents is to chip away until we get enough bits of intelligible language to piece together the true story.

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7. Boys Want To Be Like Their Dads

Fathers of boys find out quickly that our sons want to be like us … usually just like us. If you haven’t noticed that your son is watching every move you make, it’s time to wake up to that fact.

You can’t behave like a jerk and expect your son to be a sweet kid, because he’s likely going to mimic you in every way.

8. Boys Want To Protect Their Moms

It’s an old cliché that men don’t talk about each other’s mothers, but it’s one that happens to be true, especially for growing boys. Moms and sons will have their struggles and spats, but if you’re a mom, know that your staunchest defender is your little boy, even if that means taking sides against Dad.

9. Boys Will Read All Night

The traditional image of a bookworm may be a girl with glasses cuddled up in the corner of a library, but parents of boys know better. We know that our sons have books tucked between their mattresses and inside their pillowcases, and we know that any light source will do.

Flashlights, glow sticks, digital clocks, cell phones – our boys sneak all of them into bed to support their reading habit.

10. Boys Can Use Anything As A Sword

Parents of boys know that we must guard our heads and crotches at all times, because the next crushing sword blow is just around the corner. Whether it’s an empty roll of wrapping paper, a dusty old broom, or grandma’s cane, any roughly cylindrical object is a great makeshift sword that our sons can use to practice their Star Wars-inspired fencing skills.

11. Boys Are Artistic

When our sons are young, they wallpaper our homes with drawings and finger-painted masterpieces. As they grow, most boys stop churning out the art and turn to sports, girls, math, and science, but don’t let that fool you.

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Those doodles in his school notebook and the mushy poems he writes to his girlfriend are your son’s way of letting you know that his creativity lives on. We need to nourish that artistic flame however we can and let our boys know that imagination is valuable, even as an adult.

12. Boys Do More Than Play Sports

As much as you might want to raise the next star quarterback or Wimbledon champ, some boys just don’t have any interest in sports. We can, and should, expose our sons to athletics, but it’s ultimately up to them if they want to play in the long term or not.

If they choose “not,” we need to support that decision and channel their energies in other directions.

13. Boys Blow Things Off

It doesn’t matter how responsible your son seems to be, there are important things he needs to get done right now that he’s not doing, and that you don’t even know about. That tattered and torn piece of paper your found in the dryer vent? That was his History assignment.

That call from the band director? Your son forgot to tell you that he had marching practice tonight. Boys just don’t get too excited by rules and boundaries, so stuff falls through the cracks all the time.

14. Boys Develop More Slowly Than Girls

From the time they are toddlers, the differences between boys and girls are on stark display. While girls are running around the living room, boys the same age are drooling down their chests, struggling to stand up. Many girls can read books before their preschool classmates can recognize individual letters.

Even later on, middle school girls are dating older boys while our teenage sons are watching cartoons and playing Minecraft. It doesn’t matter, though, because boys eventually do all of those things, and they still grow up way too fast. Enjoy the extended childhood while you can.

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15. Boys Figure Stuff Out

Sons frustrate us to no end when they can’t learn to tie their shoes or pour a glass of milk without splattering the kitchen floor. But if we let up on the gas a bit and give them time and room to work through issues on their own, boys will figure out just about anything.

How else can you explain that life-size replica of R2-D2 that your son built from spare Legos?

16. Boys Just Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff

Boys can be amazingly single-minded: your son might be able to describe in detail how to find a derivative in calculus, but he can’t tell you the name of the new friend he’s been eating lunch with all semester. What may be important to you is not necessarily important to him, and it’s pretty common for our sons to identify other kids with such witty nicknames as “blue shirt” or “green shoes.”

17. Boys Make You Feel Safe and Hopeful

If you’re having a bad day or feeling vulnerable about your life and the future, take a look at your growing son. He walks and talks and does amazing things every day. Most people may see a slouching kid who needs a haircut, but we see our boys for what they are: the fathers and husbands and leaders of tomorrow who will make the world better than we ever could.

Featured photo credit: Cristiano Betta via flickr.com

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Adam Hughes

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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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