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20 Questions Parents Should Ask Themselves Every Day

20 Questions Parents Should Ask Themselves Every Day

Having children is like living in a frat house — nobody sleeps, everything’s broken, and there’s a lot of throwing up. – Ray Romano

Parenting is both the most difficult and most rewarding job. Kids don’t come with a manual, but if they did it might include these questions you should get in the habit of asking yourself.

Are My Kids Having Fun?

Life tends to get so busy that sometime we forget to prioritize play.

Am I Having Fun?

Same question (almost). If you are so busy chauffering and cooking and doing laundry that you are forgetting to enjoy your children, you need to take a hard look at your priorities.

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Did My Child Eat Well?

Consider quality, not quantity. Were fruits and vegetables the bulk of the diet? Great. Are you limiting too strictly? Every child needs to taste cotton candy once.

Did My Child Sleep Well?

Children need their sleep. If they aren’t getting a reasonable amount of sleep they are not thriving.

Did My Child Learn Something?

This isn’t the same as a getting good grades. It’s about being curious and excited to learn anything from weaving to dinosaur names. Open their minds to the joy of learning.

Did My Child Successfully Negotiate Stress?

Kids need to learn to recognize both how stress feels and how to reduce it in order to navigate the adult world. If you never allow them to experience fear, failure, or grit, they don’t get the opportunity to develop these skills.

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Did I Yell?

How did you feel after yelling? How do you think your child felt?

Why Did I Yell?

You know yelling feels awful for both you and your child. Why do you do it? Some part of you thinks that it works. Remind yourself that it is not the most effective way.

Did I Blame My Child?

If you hear yourself saying “you make me so mad” or “you make mommy sad,” it is time to take ownership of your feelings. “When you come home late I feel worried” or “when you use that tone of voice I feel like you don’t respect me” would convey your feelings without blaming your child for them.

Did I Praise Enough?

It takes seven positive comments to negate the effects of one negative. To build our children’s confidence and self-esteem, we need to praise them more than we might think.

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Did I Praise the Right Things?

Praising a child for things like being smart or pretty is actually harmful to his ability to become resilient. If the child thinks smart is something he is rather then recognizing the grit he puts into learning something, when he eventually is confronted by something that is harder to learn he might think he isn’t smart rather than attempting to work it out.

Am I Treating My Child’s Success as My Own?

Recognize that if she is successful, it is her own. You don’t get to relive your dreams of becoming a soccer player or ballet dancer through your child.

What Do I Want My Children To Feel Today?

Important, respected, and happy.

If This Was My Last Day, What Would I Do Differently?

We have to go to work and cook dinner and do homework but if we looked back on the day, would we do it this way again? Did you laugh? Did you listen?

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Did I Do Something Today to Foster My Child’s Independence?

As your child’s pre-frontal cortex develops a parent is tasked with balancing independence with protection. What are you still doing for your child that he could be doing for himself? Let him do it, it helps foster self-trust.

Am I Parenting Out of Fear or Comfort?

Am I moving towards something I want for my child or away from something I don’t want? It is always more powerful to move toward.

Am I Part of the Problem or Part of the Solution?

Are you helping your child avoid things she doesn’t like doing? That is encouraging avoidance. Instead be on her side encouraging her to develop grit and perseverance.

What Is My Most Important Role as a Parent?

Spend some time thinking about this, then align all your parenting with that role.

Did I Learn From My Mistakes?

We all make them. Admit, then learn from them. Move on. Tomorrow is another day and you need to model this for your children.

What Am I Thankful For?

Reminding ourselves of what we already have or do opens our minds to finding more great things and opportunities as parents.

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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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