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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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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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