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10 Milestones No Parent Should Miss

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10 Milestones No Parent Should Miss

Milestones. Some big, some small. All important.

Milestones are big parts of our life which have have a substantial effect on, or are big steps in our progress as a person. Below is ten milestones which parents should not miss!

1. First Steps

The day your child takes their first steps is miraculous. That momentous event that only happens once but is forever ingrained into your memory. When they get up and take one slow step at a time while you try to contain an insurmountable feeling of pride – after all, your child is walking! This is something which they will do for the rest of their life. One, if not the most basic action they can do but an action what is limitless.

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2. First Words

It could be “Mummy” or “Daddy” or something completely strange! Either way, your child’s first words are a tear-summoning thing. To hear their own, independent voice. The feeling that they will go great places and that words will help them there. First words can be something to laugh about at an 18th birthday party or something to sit back and smile about when you’re down. Thinking back to those first words are a way to summon great happiness and comfort. You know that they might one day anger you but you also know deep down that whatever they say, it is something special as their voice is from you. This isn’t a moment to miss!

3. First Birthday

Every birthday is special but today they have been with you for one year. It’s been a quick year too! Through all the crying and diaper-changing, you have managed to pull through for the first year! It’s all up hill from here right? It’s a celebration for them but also for you. You have cared for this complex but beautiful being in front of you for a whole year. All the presents they have got, you know they don’t fully understand what it’s for but you can tell they have enjoyed the attention. Their first birthday is such a special moment in your shared development.

4. First Day Of School

If I remember correctly, on my first day of school, I cried about whether or not my jumper was alright.

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The first day of school is a massive thing. It begins the start of a very long and eventful journey. School trips, tests and success: whatever your child does, school has created some success in them. On the video of me getting ready for the first time, I was so excited and didn’t even know how to put on the pair of trousers I had (my dad came and helped me put them on). No matter how old they are, if you capture this moment, it will always put a smile on your faces. There’s something about this occasion that is very special. It hits you that they are actually growing up and you can’t do anything about it.

5. Prom

You stand there, smiling as you take the picture. Your little one suddenly looks so much older. The memory of the time you spent on the beach when they were only a year old flashes in front of your eyes. He turns and poses with his date. You can imagine that in 10 or 20 years, he might be getting married. It hits you and you feel a twist in your gut. Prom is the day when your little one shows you how mature they are. Either in that smart suit, looking like a gentleman or wearing that dress and necklace you got her for her birthday. Prom is a very special occasion, don’t miss it or you might miss them growing up.

6. Leaving home

This gut-wrenching moment is the day you realize that your child isn’t yours any more. They are their own person. No matter how many times you tell yourself it won’t happen, it comes to the day when you wake up and immediately feel heart-broken.

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The day they leave.

Every time you walk past their old room a little bit of you screams inside. Although it may be a tough milestone to go through, don’t miss it – even if it’s just for them. They will be ecstatic at the idea of living alone and will want to share that with you.

7. Graduation

The day your now not-so little one graduates is a massive thing in their life. It opens the door to so many new opportunities. Whether a great job, new experiences or even meeting new people. Graduation signifies the end to a very long era of your child’s life. No more education and into employment with their shiny, new qualifications! Lots of tears will be shared at graduation but it is a wonderful thing to watch. Seeing your child shake hands and succeed. Going back to their friends with a grin on their face!

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8. First House

“Knock, Knock, Knock”

Something seems strange about this. Asking to be let into a house; but not any house – your child’s. It seems so strange but as they open the doors with a big, welcoming smile on their face everything seems natural. They seem so comfortable in this environment – as if they’ve lived there all their life. It’s not something to just shrug off as a small moment in their life. This symbolizes the start of their independence in the world, completely self-sufficient from now on. A scary thought but it gives you a warm feeling inside, knowing you’ve succeeded.

9. Marriage

The music plays as everyone turns around. The bride walks slowly but with purpose. While the groom stands, a tear in his eye. These two people seem so strange to you, you don’t know them, surely? But you seem to recognize one of them? It’s your child. The person who you used to bath and tuck into bed. The little voice who would say “I love you” as you turn off the light. You remember all their birthdays; the look of amazement and excitement as they want to rip into their presents. Now you’re stood here, watching them in awe. They seem so full of purpose and calm, so different from the little baby that cried in it’s cot all night. Marriage is an incredibly important moment in your child’s life. They have found someone they are happy with, someone who they care about and want to spend the rest of their life with.

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10. Birth of your grandchild

The birth of your grandchild is such an amazing idea. The life you brought into the world is now in your shoes, looking down at a wide-eyed baby which they pledge to bring up in the world with love and care. You get into the hospital at 3 o’clock in the morning and you run to where your new grandchild is. As you walk into the room you have to stifle a gasp as you see them. Seeing your grandchild for the first time is like seeing your child for the time. It plucks at your heartstrings and plays a beautiful serenade. A moment that will stay with you all your life. You see yourself in your child as they look into their child’s eyes.

Featured photo credit: eopath via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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