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10 Ways To Teach Your Kids To Have A Fearless Mindset

10 Ways To Teach Your Kids To Have A Fearless Mindset

As a parent, you want your kids to grow up to be confident, happy, and successful adults, able to face the world head-on and make the most of every opportunity. But what can you do to help them overcome the fears that might hold them back? It’s worth remembering first that fear serves a purpose; it’s a natural human emotion to warn us of possible harm – a call to action to protect ourselves. However, in our modern world, fear often tends to be out of proportion to risk and can prevent us from achieving as much as we would like, and are capable of.

Here are 10 ways to help your kids develop a fearless mindset and overcome the fears that are holding them back.

1. Acknowledge the fear, don’t just dismiss it

Simply telling your child to not be afraid, or to stop being silly, isn’t an effective way to help them deal with it. You need to acknowledge it properly. Whatever you might think about the fear, it’s very real to them and they need to know that you get that. Give them the opportunity to talk about it, show that you really understand. The fear needs to be acknowledged first before you can help them to move on from it.

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2. Let them know that failure IS an option

Society places such pressure on everyone not to fail, we can easily forget that failure is often a key part of the learning process. Most of the greatest inventions in history were the result of a long series of failed attempts before the final successful one was achieved. Don’t let fear of failure hold your kids back, let them know that it’s okay to fail sometimes, show them how they can learn from it in order to do better next time. Model this behavior for them, if you fail at something, show them how you turn it around into a positive.

3. Don’t pass your own fears onto them

This is one that most of us are aware of and yet, as parents, we’re probably all guilty of it at times. Realistically, you’re probably not going to be able to completely hide your fears from your kids at all times. What you can do however is talk it through with them, show them that you’re human, and you too are afraid of things that you don’t need to be afraid of at times. Show them how you deal with it and how you are working to overcome those fears.

4. Help them identify the actual fear

Often when people express a fear, they’re actually talking about something that is a step away from the fear itself – if someone says they’re afraid of flying, they’re probably not actually afraid of flying, they’re afraid of crashing. A child who says they’re afraid of monsters under the bed aren’t actually afraid of the monsters being under the bed, they’re afraid of them coming out from under the bed to hurt them. An important step in overcoming a fear is to clearly pinpoint what the actual fear is, so help them to do this and then work together to address it.

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5. Show them the benefits

Sometimes a child can be so focused on the fear that they can’t see beyond it. Talk through the benefits of overcoming the fear with them, what they will gain, what it might lead on to. Ask them questions to encourage them to think of what the positive outcomes might be rather than just telling them. This will help to refocus their attention on to the other side of the fear barrier.

6. Remind them of previous times they overcame a fear

Reminding your child of a previous occasion where they were afraid to try something, but ended up enjoying it, can give them a little boost of confidence in their own abilities.

7. Avoid comparing them to others

Focus on your child, and what fears it is that they are aiming to overcome. Making continual comparisons to other kids can be unhelpful and may make your child feel inadequate.

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8. Teach them to recognize valid fears

While overcoming fears is important, we need to remember that some fears are perfectly valid and healthy. If your child is afraid of jumping into a river full of crocodiles, then that’s good, that’s a fear that you don’t want them to overcome. Teach them to recognize the difference between important life-saving fears, and irrational fears, by talking through risks and consequences.

9. Show them how facing a fear can be done in small steps

Sometimes the best way to overcome a fear is to leap right into it, other times though it’s better to tackle it slowly and gently. Be guided by your child on this, if the fear is overwhelming for them, then show them how it can be approached in small stages, only moving on to the next stage when a certain comfort level is reached. Plan the stages with them ahead of time so that they are clear on what is going to happen, and don’t spring surprises on them or they won’t trust you next time.

10. Constantly remind them that they’re not alone

Probably the most important one is to remind them regularly that they don’t have to face their fears alone. If they feel secure in the knowledge that you will be there for them whatever the outcome, this will grow their fearless mindset and help give them the confidence to move forward.

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Featured photo credit: balance/Tom Woodward via flickr.com

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Published on April 7, 2021

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

Some of the most manipulative people are so good at what they do that their words and actions can convince you into thinking they truly care about what’s best for you when in reality, it’s quite the opposite. The most common signs of a controlling person are rarely obvious to outside observers. And for someone enmeshed in a controlling relationship or friendship, it can be incredibly challenging to stay away from this toxic person, even if you’re aware of their emotionally abusive tendencies.

While it’s ultimately up to you to decide whether to preserve or leave a lopsided, unfulfilling relationship, it’s nevertheless critical to understand the following six signs of controlling people so you can better advocate for yourself and mitigate the influence of their manipulative tendencies in your own life.

1. They Push Their Own Personal Agenda

Do you know someone who always tries to micromanage the words, behaviors, and attitudes of people around them? Does this person act like they have the right to know anything they want about you, including your location, what you’re doing in a given moment, who you’re talking to online, or any other private information about you? And when planning events and special occasions, does this person dominate conversations, steer plans in their own preferred directions, disparage others’ suggestions, and refuse to collaborate with anyone who might disagree with them?

If you answered “yes” to some of the above questions, then those are clear signs of a controlling person whom you absolutely need to be cautious around. Controlling people are reluctant to even consider alternative ideas, let alone enthusiastically work with people who have differing views. They prefer to be the captain of every ship—regardless of how much or how little an issue personally impacts them—and they have an arsenal of manipulative tactics to deploy if someone stands in the way of them achieving their own personal agendas.

In long-term relationships with controlling people, you may feel constantly pressured to meet their demands, follow their schedule, and focus on whatever they feel is most important. It’s not an exaggeration to say that these people act like the universe revolves around them, which can be exhausting to deal with for their family members, friends, and colleagues.

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2. They Make Everything Transactional

Controlling people aren’t always self-centered, but they’re not too empathetic either. Empathy for them tends to appear in the form of strategic concessions they use as a means to get what they want. They typically view interpersonal relationships as transactional opportunities to extract more value from people surrounding them, which can have a draining effect on those they interact with.

For example, one sign of a controlling person may be their insistence on “keeping score.” This can involve doing nice things for you with the ulterior motive of demanding something from you at a later date in exchange for what you thought was just an act of kindness or a friendly support.

Perhaps they shower you in praise (also known as “love-bombing”) or gifts then blow up at you if you don’t intuitively know they’re expecting something back from you. None of us are mind-readers, but controlling people behave as though everyone else should think and act like they want others to and those who fall out of line are punished for failing to meet their impossible expectations.

A controlling person may also threaten to withhold support if you don’t adhere to their demands, but they do so in such subtle ways that the guilt they impose blinds you from the unreasonable nature of their behaviors.

Some statements to be wary of include:

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  • “I did ___________ for you. What do you mean you can’t do ___________ for me?”
  • “Remember how I helped you with ___________? That took a lot of time and energy from me, but I guess you didn’t appreciate my help.”
  • “I always give you ___________. Don’t you care about my needs too?”
  • “You’re so selfish!” or “You don’t care about me at all!” (gaslighting if you respond with hesitation or politely decline their request for help for perfectly valid reasons, such as not having enough time or resources to assist them)

3. They Criticize Everything

One of the most common telltale signs of a controlling person is their capacity to criticize anything and everything, even small things that seemingly don’t matter. As with many toxic traits in relationships, these problems typically start out so small that you may not even notice. At first, you may even agree with their criticism or at least be able to understand their perspective when they bring up an issue.

However, the criticism tends to get more intense, more constant, and more perplexing for people who maintain relationships with controlling people. You’ll likely notice how they rarely seem to criticize something they do. It’s almost always other-oriented and these types of people are so manipulative that any rationale they offer can seem plausibly legitimate.

Some warning signs of a controlling person who’s overly critical to the point of abusiveness include:

  • Criticizing things about you that you have little to no control over (e.g., appearance, disability, family)
  • Criticizing your personal choices and interests, such as educational pursuits, career, clothing, favorite music, time spent on your hobbies, etc.
  • Punishing you for expressing vulnerability by invalidating thoughts and feelings you share with them
  • Attacking you whenever you express an opinion counter to theirs

4. They Balk When Someone Criticizes Them

We all know the adage, “what goes around, comes around.” But this statement doesn’t apply as much to toxic, controlling people. They’d much prefer to dish out criticism without ever having to take it in return.

For instance, if your friend constantly talks about your appearance with little regard for your emotions but flips out if you make just a single comment about their appearance, there’s a possibility that they could have some hidden controlling tendencies left unchecked. Remember, these people aren’t just controlling in their behaviors towards others. They’re also actively trying to stay in complete control over every aspect of their lives, which includes how others view them.

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This seemingly insatiable desire for control can prompt them to lash out against even the smallest bits of criticism, leaving people around them too weary or scared to speak up again in the future. While it’s possible they may suffer from something called rejection sensitivity dysphoria, this does not excuse them from the consequences of their words and actions. They should seek professional help to better manage their reactions to criticism.

5. They Socially Isolate You

Not all controlling people do this, but for manipulative narcissists, socially isolating victims is a go-to strategy for maintaining control because it’s effective at preventing people from truly understanding how toxic their partner, family member, or friend is treating them. Think of it this way—if you don’t talk to many other people in your life, there’s less of a risk that you’ll damage their reputation by revealing their abusive tendencies.

Socially isolating others also gives the person more control over you and your life as it becomes more difficult to break away from them if you don’t have other healthier channels of communication and interpersonal support to turn to.

This process doesn’t happen overnight, nor is it something you can readily recognize as abusive. At first, it may seem reasonable, such as asking you to stop engaging so often with family members with whom both of you disagree on major social or political issues. As the social isolation progresses, they may suggest cutting people out of your life—especially if they don’t like that person, regardless of how you personally feel—or even conjure up high-stakes problems like “it’s me or them” under the guise of saving you from people in your life whom they don’t like for whatever reason.

In a controlling person’s life narrative, they’re always the protagonist who’s incapable of any wrongdoing. The blame is always redirected at someone else, whether that’s you or other people in your life. The more they isolate you from other supportive people in your life, the more susceptible you’ll be to falsely believing that they’re right and you “don’t need” your other friends and family when you have someone as perfect as this person.

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6. They’re Emotionally Abusive

It’s hard enough to be in control of your own emotions but when someone else is constantly belittling you and your interests or leveraging guilt and shame to manipulate you into saying or doing what they want, this can make it even more challenging to stay in control of your own life and emotional well-being.

Emotional abuse is another sign of a controlling person that is often overlooked in relationships. After all, human personalities vary widely in terms of passivity, and it’s not uncommon for one person in a relationship to be significantly more passive than the other. This becomes an issue when the controlling partner or friend exudes signs of emotional abuse, which can start subtly and become much more pronounced over time.

Concerning signs of emotionally abusive language or behavior to watch out for include:

  • Dismissing your needs and/or belittling your interests in counterproductive ways
  • Privately or publicly shaming or humiliating you
  • Making you feel as though you can never live up to their expectations or do anything right (according to their own vague, subjective standards)
  • Gaslighting you into thinking they said or did something that never actually happened (making you question your own reality)

Final Thoughts

It’s sometimes hard to see the negative things about someone with whom we have a relationship. We may sometimes unconsciously overlook the signs of a controlling person, especially if that person is someone we have known for a long time or are close to us. However, cutting them off your life is the best thing you can do for yourself. Just watch out for these six signs of a controlling person and take immediate action when you spot them.

More Tips on How To Deal With a Controlling Person

Featured photo credit: Külli Kittus via unsplash.com

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