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10 Things To Remember If You Want To Raise Your Kids To Be Open-minded

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10 Things To Remember If You Want To Raise Your Kids To Be Open-minded

In the modern world, you are exposed to diversity everywhere you go. People share different beliefs, languages, traditions, backgrounds, and appearances. Diversity fuels the world, creates numerous educational opportunities, and keeps conversations interesting.

As a loving parent, you want your child to grow with an open mind, tolerant of all the differences out there and capable of making thoughtful decisions based on facts. If you want your kids to be open-minded, here are 10 important things to remember.

1. Open-mindedness doesn’t come from racial diversity

Diversity is largely dependent on different socioeconomic factors. Public schools are location-based, and your kids will go to school with other kids who live nearby. Unless you are based in a major city like New York, there is a relatively small chance that you’ll get any sort of real diversity. It’s hard to admit, but the world is still segregated as housing is segregated economically. Now, I’m certain you know which neighborhoods in your city are “good”, “expensive”, “Chinese,” and so on. Yet, many modern parents opt to take their kids out of the typical suburban exodus once they finish kindergarten, as they see that the suburbs as not a realistic preparation for their kids’ lives. If it’s an option for you — consider it!

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2. Open-mindedness comes from an open learning environment

However, not all schools can boast this type of environment. A lot of teachers are fired because they don’t teach to the tests, and sadly, fringe ideas are not part of the national curriculum. If you want to raise an open-minded child, don’t let them learn in the test-based environment where they just grow up knowing that all they need is to remember the right answer to pass a test.

Help your kids develop critical thinking and teach them to make independent judgements. When they ask for your help, don’t give them a ready-made solution. Instead, brainstorm different ideas together. Help them find the best one on their own by encouraging them to ask questions, slightly guiding them in the right direction. Stop saying things like “I know better,” or “Because I said so,” when they don’t understand why they should do it your way. Let them make mistakes and even fail sometimes. Yes, it might be hard for you, but to raise your child to be a successful, open-minded adult, they need to learn how to get over failure, analyze their mistakes, and make more successful attempts.

3. Always monitor your own attitude and open-mindedness

Kids are constantly watching you deal with different situations and people. If you want your kid to be open-minded, you should always stay alert about the things you say and the way you act. Avoid dropping even casual statements of intolerance, such as “Janine’s mom isn’t right because she doesn’t accept evolution theory,” or judging anyone because of traditions they follow. Your kids should grow up knowing that if someone does the usual things in a different way, it doesn’t mean they are wrong and should be criticized. Difference isn’t bad— difference is what makes the world go round.

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4. TV shows and movies are full of prejudice

You should explain to your child that not all Russians are cold-minded villains as the movies often show, not all Mexicans are illegal immigrants, and so on. Explain to your child that the world is much more complicated that it is shown on the screen and that there is lots of bias in the media. Instead, offer them raw facts about different cultures and ethnic groups so they can learn to make their own judgements.

5. Teach them languages

Languages open people up to understanding of different cultures and their values. Yes, English is commonly spoken around the world, however, understanding another language exposes you to more possibilities to see things from a different perspective. Besides, your children will be able to access information presented from a different perspective and become more tolerant of other cultures whose language they can speak and understand. Intolerance and hostility often comes from miscommunication and misunderstanding of foreign traditions.

6. Expose your child to different activities and cultures

Watch documentaries about different countries, go to museums, visit exhibitions and cultural events organized by foreign organizations. Try various cuisines, read stories about different cultures, and see the world through photos. Choose books and movies where the main characters are not necessarily Caucasian. If your child’s friend invites you to Hanuka, accept the invitation and explain your kid why he’s celebrating it instead of Christmas. The more your child knows about the world around them, the more they will be able to approach it with an open mind.

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7. Let your children have friends who are not like them

Your child should realize that there isn’t a “norm” of how people must look. Encourage them to have friends of different backgrounds and ethnicities. Playing and communicating with other kids will help him realize that they are just like them, despite their color, religion, or cultural background.

When I was a child, I spent two years in Japan playing with the local kids and other expat children from all around the world. I’m grateful my parents never suggested whom I should be friends with. This helped me to grow into a “colorblind”, open-minded adult, curious about the world and other cultures.

8. Respect your child’s individuality

If you really want to bring up an independent, open-minded child, don’t try to push them into stereotypical molds such as, “girls should play with dolls and wear dresses.” If you son wants to paint his nails blue — why not? If your daughter chooses wood work as her after-class activity — fantastic. Ask what she’s up to. Let your child grow outside the so-called “feminine” and “masculine” roles and try different things they like. Who said a boy can’t like cooking and judo at the same time?

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9. Teach your children to deal with criticism and prejudice

Unfortunately, not all kids and adults out there would be equally open-minded and tolerant. You’ll have to teach your child to be assertive and to stand up for himself (or his friends) without being overly aggressive. When he or she faces some prejudice because of his hobbies, friends, shape, or size, talk with them through the problem. My friend’s son was teased because he took ballet classes. Yet his mom just told him about all the modern male dancers, showed him Sergei Polunin, who could hardly be called girly, and explained that in a couple of years, all the girls would chase him because he would be really good-looking and maybe even famous. Now, when he hears something skeptical such as, “So you do ballet, huh?” he simply says, “Yes!”

10. Foster logical thinking

Open-mindedness comes hand-in-hand with logical thinking. Intolerance and racism mainly come from bias and false beliefs about different cultures. Don’t let your child grow up believing each and every thing they hear from their teachers, other kids, or their parents. They should be able to evaluate statements, analyze the facts, and create their own opinions about everyone and everything, rather than just relying on ideas presented by others. If you want your children to be open minded, they should be independent thinkers.

Featured photo credit: Julie Kertesz via flickr.com

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Elena Prokopets

Elena is a passionate blogger who shares about lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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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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