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11 Struggles Only Oldest Siblings Can Relate To

11 Struggles Only Oldest Siblings Can Relate To

Being the eldest of the siblings means you get a lot of advantages and you learn a lot of important lessons—such as compassion and patience—early in your life. However, being the first born is not as smooth a ride as it is perceived, and it is not all fun and games being the oldest of your siblings. While you sometimes get to boss your siblings around and you get first dibs at everything, there is also a lot of responsibility and pressure that rests on your little shoulders if you are the first born. Here are 11 struggles that oldest siblings can totally relate to:

1. You have to be a role model for your younger siblings, even if you don’t want to be

Your younger siblings look up to you as their greatest role model and so you have to be perfect. If you are a first born, you get this constant reminder that you have to set a good example for your siblings to follow. Every time you get into trouble, it is magnified by tenfold, and you are reminded of how you are not living up to the standards of the position you hold.

2. You are blamed by your parents for everything, only because you are the oldest

Having younger siblings basically means that you are in trouble when they are in trouble. Because you are older, even if you aren’t at fault, you are the one to be blamed since you are supposed to know better. Who forgot to put the bikes in the shed before it started to snow? Your little brother, but technically it was you, because you should have made sure he did it. So, you get the blame for almost every wrong thing that they do or whenever they cause any trouble. On the other hand, they don’t get into trouble because they are “not old enough to understand.” You are actually the one who is supposed to be watching them, after all.

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3. You want to be the cool one but you have to be the responsible one

You are constantly torn between being the cool one and being the responsible one. You like being cool because it’s fun, but then you are supposed to be mature and responsible.

4. You fear losing games to your younger siblings

Since you are the eldest, you like maintaining your “superior” status. Therefore, you try your best to win any game you play with the younger ones. It is a dark day for you if you lose any game to them.

5. You are under more pressure to succeed at school

The older ones are also expected to be smarter and get better grades at school. If your little brother or sister gets an A in Math and you get a B, your mother looks for an answer from you. Contrastingly, if you get an A and the younger one gets a B, you are now to additionally serve as their tutor and help them excel.

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6. You have to be ready for unpaid babysitting all the time

You are the babysitter for your siblings if your mother is doing the laundry, going out shopping, or is busy in the kitchen. You are the on-call babysitter and any plans that you might have do not seem to matter.

7. You have to make a case for staying up late or having cool gadgets, while your siblings are allowed to do all that at a younger age

You wanted to stay up late and watch a movie but you were not allowed. You wanted a cellphone, so you had to beg and beg for it and when you got it, it also came with a long list of rules. Yet, it seems that your younger siblings are allowed these privileges at a younger age and with fewer rules. The statement: “You never allowed me do that when I was that old” is, therefore, often uttered in your life—even you have lost count of the times you have said it.

8. You had to manage your frustration when your sibling was born and everything stopped being just about you

Life seemed to be great as an only child. You got all the attention, affection, love, and care of your parents. But when the new baby made an entrance as your sibling, they became the receiver of all this attention. Frustration and jealousy engulfs you when you do not get the same amount of attention and have to share everything with your younger siblings.

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9. You have to make a lot of sacrifices

Sometimes it’s unwillingly, but you have to make a lot of sacrifices if you are oldest of the siblings. These may include not being allowed to have certain toys that your younger siblings might swallow bits of, or having to watch TV shows that are too young for you, or having to stay at home to babysit them when you want to go out and party.

10. You can’t keep any secrets because the little ones are always on a lookout for you

When you have younger siblings, it is very unlikely that you can get away with anything or keep any secrets. They will continue to spy on you like a creeper, and will go running to your mom and dad as soon as they find out anything new. So it is difficult to have friends over, as your younger siblings refuse to stop bugging you.

11. You are often accused of being bossy, while you are just playing your role

You have to be assertive at times to protect them and make sure that they stay out of trouble. However, this is frustrating for them and they accuse you of being bossy, when actually you are simply acting your role.

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Conclusion

These are just a few of the struggles that go along with being the oldest sibling. However, being the eldest myself, I know that despite all responsibilities and pressures, being the oldest sibling is still one of the best things that could happen to someone, and one of the proudest titles to have.

Featured photo credit: UNICEF Ukraine via flickr.com

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Mehwish A. Wahid

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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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