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10 Milestones No Parent Should Miss

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.

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 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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