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5 easy things we’ve forgotten about kids

5 easy things we’ve forgotten about kids

As I near what I hope is just the middle part of my life, I find myself intrigued by a simple article in our community’s newspaper. Each week, a group of kids is selected at one elementary school to answer one question.

The most recent question posed to these kids was, “What is the hardest thing about being a kid” and as I read through each answer, I found myself giggling at the things kids view as “hard.” For example, one young boy said it’s too hard to “go on the monkey bars, but he could go on the swings.” I could more closely relate to some of the answers more than others. “It’s hard to draw inside the lines” and “Trying to sit still is hard” were two answers given by the children. I secretly wanted to whisper to them, “This doesn’t get easier — at least in my case.”

The first thing I thought of when I was skimming over the pictures of the smiling kids was how easy these kids have it. I mean, seriously? It’s hard to sit “criss cross applesauce?” Anyone can do that, right? What about the girl that said “being good is hard” — is it really that hard to be good?

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I digress.

That’s when it hit me…I forgot what it was like to be a kid. Because as an adult, I have much bigger things to process.

So here are 5 things most adults have forgotten about kids:

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Kids love their birthdays

Who wouldn’t when you are no longer 7 — because now you are 8!!! They even know when their half-birthdays are and make sure to announce it to the world! On their special day, that is exactly how they feel. They feel loved and love the attention. Sometimes, it’s about the cake and presents, but one day, they will love that someone cared enough to be there for them…to help them celebrate. Never downplay the importance of a child’s birthday…that day is right up there with the other big holidays. But they know that day is theirs.

 Kids aren’t fake

They don’t know how to be. We teach them to be honest and to say what they think and feel. How many times have we told them, “Use your words” and yet we are surprised when they are brutally honest with us? There is a cereal commercial highlighting this same point — kids may not be shy about telling you that your stomach is hairy or asking why your legs make noises when you walk. We want to pretend that they only notice what we teach them, but believe me, they are paying way more attention than we give them credit for…and they remind us ever so often too.

Kids need their friends

In a world when adults have learned to rely more on themselves or a smaller group of close confidants, kids want to be liked by lots of people. They want to be included in the games you play at recess and to be invited to their classmates birthday party. They want to matter and friendships remind them that they do. Sitting alone at a lunch table is heartbreaking for any adult to see…imagine what it is like for that kid.

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Kids are watching us

As I mentioned earlier, we might believe that kids are only learning things in school or when we make a point to teach them something, but in reality, they are watching, processing, and chances are, they are mimicking us more than we even think. They pick up on the words we say (yes, even the bad ones), our mannerisms, and our values. If they see us being kind to strangers or yelling at our spouse, they will keep that as an experience to use later on in their own lives. We can never really know how much they get from us until we hear our 5 year old yell from the back seat, “Crap!” because they dropped their juice box down the side of their seat. Not one of those proud mama moments for me, that’s for sure.

Kids aren’t afraid to dream

Let’s face it. Kids dream and they dream BIG. They don’t just want to be a nurse or a mom, they want to protect the most endangered species on the earth, climb Mt. Everest, and run 5 marathons…all before they are 30. They hit the gate running and before we can explain to them how the real life works, they are already on their way. As we get older, we put our dreams aside and instead, succumb to the life of responsibility and societal norm. Kids always believe in the magic of their dreams and the hopes for their future.

Conclusion:

Kids remind us to be authentic with one another — there is a difference between being truthful and being hurtful. Because of them, we can look back at the years and feel truly blessed by the journey we have taken…with the places we have been, the people we met along the way, and the memories we have made along the way. Having the right kind of people around us — whether they be family or friend — makes life that much more enjoyable. Be grateful for those people who make our lives better because we still need our friends too.

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Kids teach us to be the kind of people we want to be. Without knowing it, they help us correct our mistakes as we strive to be better because of them. No adult wants to be known as the grouch at the end of the block or the man who yells at everyone at the local ballpark. Seriously? That’s not our legacy. Nothing is more exciting than watching a dream come to fruition. Kids remind us to give a chance to something that might never be, but to ignore it is a much worse fate.

We may be older, but sometimes, it’s hard being an adult. Because we forget things.

Featured photo credit: Ben White/Unsplash via hd.unsplash.com

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Michelle A. Homme

Author, Speaker, Quote Writer, Empowerment Coach

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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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