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15 Things Parents Don’t Need To Feel Guilty About

15 Things Parents Don’t Need To Feel Guilty About

Do you ever feel guilty about your parenting skills? Many parents berate themselves for the little things, even when they are doing a great job of raising a child.

Parents are not robots – here are 15 things parents don’t need to feel guilty about.

1. Letting Your Child Watch TV

Although you like the idea of raising your child without television, you’re not sure when you’d ever get anything done. The peaceful half an hour while your child watches cartoons is one of the only chances you get to clean the house – and it’s a total godsend. Don’t feel guilty about it.

2. Enjoying Your Job

Loving your child doesn’t have to mean you have to always hate being apart from them. Before you had a child, it is likely you felt passionate and invested in your job. Having a child doesn’t change that, and you don’t need to feel guilty about enjoying your work – you simply have something else in your life that you love and adore.

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3. Having Secret Treats For Yourself

Being a parent is extremely rewarding and fun, but it can also be difficult and tiring. So if you love expensive chocolate, treat yourself – and feel free to keep it at the back of the cupboard, hidden behind supermarket brand chocolate. You’re doing a great job, and you deserve it!

4. Needing Alone Time When Your Children Are Awake

Having a child often means you don’t get much time alone, but giving birth doesn’t mean you have to sign away all of your rights to privacy. After a hard day, it’s okay to shut your bedroom door for half an hour so you can read a good book – you’re still right there if your children need you.

5. Taking A Vacation With Your Friends Or Family

Every parent needs the occasional break, and a short trip away can rejuvenate you and leave you feeling amazing. You know your children would hate to stay in a spa for a few days (the other guests probably wouldn’t enjoy it, either), so lie back and enjoy your back massage, safe in the knowledge your children are probably being spoiled rotten by their grandparents.

6. Worrying About Your Child’s Development

Parents can often become competitive when talking to other parents about their children, which can make you feel competitive, too – and then guilty later!
From potty training to your child still sucking their thumb, try not to feel guilty that you’re worried about your child’s development. You’re doing fine as a parent, and your child will naturally develop at their own pace.

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7. Not Volunteering At Your Child’s School

Every day you make sure your child is dressed, fed, clean and happy – and this is a huge accomplishment in itself! It can take the whole day, too; you have no idea how other parents factor in time to hand out folders or snacks at school.

8. Yelling at Your Child When They Haven’t Done Anything Wrong

At some point as a parent – probably after a particularly long and stressful day, you may find yourself raising your voice with your child, even though they don’t deserve it. It’s very hard not to feel guilty about this, but you are only human, and it can be a useful opportunity to explain to your child that even parents make mistakes sometimes.

9. Feeding Your Child Junk Food

Many parents feel guilty about feeding their child junk food, but after a stressful day sometimes the drive-through is the best option for both you and your kids. Many parents use junk food as an occasional treat for their children; don’t forget that it isn’t poisonous, it just isn’t very nutritious! As long as you don’t make it a daily occurrence, let yourself off the hook for this.

10. Giving In To Your Children

Every so often you will surrender to your children and give them whatever they want – normally so you can have ten minutes of peace and quiet. You normally stick to your guns, so don’t feel guilty that you occasionally give in; it helps to keep you sane!

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11. Letting Your Parents Or Partner Take Your Children To Places You Don’t Like

Theme parks, swimming pools and Disney concerts are busy, filled with queues, and really loud. For you it is a nightmare, but for your children it is heaven – as well as a great childhood memory.
You don’t need to feel guilty if you occasionally miss these events; you know you’ll never miss any important event in their lives.

12. Being Unable To Afford Expensive Extras

Some parents are lucky enough to be able to send their children to music lessons and ballet classes, but that isn’t the most important part of being a parent. Try not to feel guilty about this one; the most important thing to give your child is love.

There are also lots of free and cheap ways to benefit your child, such as local parks and libraries.

13. Looking Forward To Your Child Going To Bed

Never feel guilty about looking forward to some alone time with a glass of wine – everyone deserves time alone, even parents! Don’t forget that this morning you were probably looking forward to spending the evening hearing about your child’s day.

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14. Finding Some Parts Of Being A Parent Tiresome

You love your child, and sometimes you are taken aback by the funny, intelligent and beautiful little person you have made. However, you still find it irritating that you have told your child at least 200 times to put their clothes in the laundry basket.

15. Throwing Away Old School Projects

There are some paintings your child has done that you will cherish forever, and are priceless to you. The only thing is, your child comes home from school with about ten different arty creations every week; if you kept them all, your house could star in an episode of Horders.

Featured photo credit: Young mother and father with newborn via shutterstock.com

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Amy Johnson

Amy is a writer who blogs about relationships and lifestyle advice.

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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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