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Parenting Advice You Really Should (and Shouldn’t) Follow

Parenting Advice You Really Should (and Shouldn’t) Follow

There was a time, not so long ago, when bottle feeding your baby and letting them “cry it out” was practically a patriotic duty. Then came self-esteem building, attachment parenting and a strong movement back towards breastfeeding. Add to that the great body of parenting folklore culled from across the ages (didn’t you know that giving them bread crusts to eat will make their hair curly, while carrots will improve their vision?), and it can be incredibly difficult as a new parent to tell whether you’re turning your kids into superheroes or single-handedly ruining their lives. More recently, the rise of parenting advice blogs has led to the development of some supportive communities for sorting out all of these conflicting ideas (and, well, just for venting about what a day with kids is like), while others have served only to increase each parent’s access to a wellspring of unsolicited opinions and judgmental biases. So, just what advice should you follow and what should you leave by the wayside? We’ve taken a look at all of the data and accompanying anecdotes for a sense of what works and what doesn’t.

1. When in Doubt, Ask for Cash…Ermh… “Savings”

Do it! Here’s a fact about little ones: they’re far more interested in the wrapping paper and box than they are in the actual present they contain. Obvious, right? Then why do we still feel that when friends and family ask what they should get the kids for their birthdays/the holidays/just because, we have to rack our brains for a gift they’re going to outgrow either physically or mentally in a matter of months? Cold, hard cash would obviously be far more useful to receive when the kids are young, as you’d be able to just go out and buy the things you know they need. But since cash is still a taboo thing to ask for, asking for something like savings bonds is a much better way to go, as they’ll grow right along with your little tyke. Is there really a better gift, after all, then sending your kid off to college with spending money or even without student debt? That’s a possibility when you go this route. Granted, once your child is past a certain age and has more of a will of their own, savings bonds are about as interesting as socks, so this tip may have a shelf life.

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2. Joke Around

Do it! As parents, it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day tasks of family life, whether that’s sneaking in a load of laundry in the precious 15 minutes they actually nap or disciplining unacceptable behavior. But, you know, laughing matters too. In fact, taking the time to joke and play with your child will not only help you both relax and enjoy your relationship a bit more, but it will also help teach your child how to handle life’s stresses and navigate social situations. Additionally, as a parent, it’s important to make peace with the fact that you’re just not going to win every battle, and that if you try to, you’ll probably meet an early grave. While you want to be consistent, of course, don’t forget to jar yourself every now again, let go and smile.

3. Praise Your Kids. A Lot. For Everything.

Don’t do it! For years, child development experts heavily promoted self-esteem-building parenting based on lavishing praise for just about everything. When you hear people complain about how everyone at the t-ball championships gets a trophy whether or not they win, this is exactly what they’re referring to. Turns out, constant praise actually lowers self-esteem. Why? It makes it impossible for the child to sort out what praise is coming from simply existing and what is stemming from actual hard work and achievement. Put another way, it puts too much of an emphasis on being great “just the way you are,” and not enough emphasis on working to achieve a goal. Accordingly, when an overly praised child encounters anything remotely challenging — which pretty much summarizes all of learning — they’re far more likely to give up than to push through. In the long term, this leads to a lack of self-discipline and achievement, and yes, lowered self-esteem. However, that’s not to say we need to return to the kind of boarding school atmosphere you’d encounter in a Roald Dahl book. Instead, just save your praise for moments when your child truly does something amazing. Every other time, provide warm, positive feedback focused more on the work they’re putting in than their intrinsic ability. That means saying something like, “You’re doing a great job learning piano and I know if you keep on working hard you’re going to really excel,” rather than, “Wow, you’re so talented at piano!” Not only will this inspire your child to keep at it with discipline and hard work, but it also means that should they “fail” anywhere down the line, they’ll take it as a matter of needing to continue working hard, rather than some intrinsic lack of ability.

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4. Create a Bedtime Routine as Early as Possible

Do it! Yes, yes, I know, setting a bedtime routine is easier said than done, but doing so will make your whole family happier, child included. It will also give your child an initial sense of structure and routine, which will make transitions into school and preschool easier further down the line. And if you incorporate reading into the routine as well, you’ll be killing two birds with one stone, setting them up for a lifetime of literacy and learning.

5. Clean. Everything. All the Time.

Don’t do it! I mean sure, clean, but chill out a bit about it. Yes, the world is a filthy, germ-ridden place, but in fact many common health tips are actually old wives’ tales. Plus, your kid won’t build up an immune system without some exposure, and if you’re using harsh chemicals to clean, you’re doing more damage than good — especially if you’re relying heavily on cleaners with any kind of antibiotic, as this can increase and spread antibiotic resistance. Of course, this isn’t a call to send your kids to the ICU just for funsies. Hygiene is still a must, but relax knowing that hand washing, vaccination, and keeping high-germ areas like the kitchen and the bathroom cleaner than others will pretty much have you covered.

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6. Don’t compare yourself to other parents

Do it! Ermh, meaning, take this advice and stop comparing yourself to other parents. Why? Because many different parenting approaches work, and it’s better to find what works for you and your family than to worry too much about what everyone else is doing. Not only will this drive you crazy and set you up for failure, but you’ll also do a poor job of implementing someone else’s technique when it doesn’t feel like you. “Yes, eat all of those Brussels sprouts, or else you’ll… die or something…” Other parents can be good for exchanging horror stories and some manner of tips, but this can also easily turn into feeling bad about your supposed “failures.” What’s more, not only are you an individual with your individual parenting style, but your kid is an individual too, and they’re bound to develop at their own rate and in their own way. Unless it’s an important milestone, like talking before the age of, say, five, just go with your gut, trust your instincts, and try not to get too caught up in what other people have to say.

7. Take Time for Yourself (and Go Easy on Yourself!)

Do it! To piggyback on the above, it’s important to embrace the idea that you’re not always going to be the “perfect parent.” The more you can laugh about it, the lower your blood pressure will be, and the more your kids will benefit. The same goes for taking time out to indulge yourself, whether that means heading to the spa for a massage or taking 10 minutes to enjoy your morning coffee before waking the kids up. If you’re trying to be a superparent, you probably feel you need to be on all the time, but you’ll be more refreshed and ready to embrace the kid-filled day if you’re taking at least some care of your own needs. And hey, the older the tykes get, the more they can thrive without you anyway. Isn’t that what they call independence?

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The Takeaway

Doling out parenting advice is an international pastime. While there’s much to learn, there’s also much to reject. As the person who lives with your kids day in and day out, you’ve got the best sense of what’s working and what’s not. While you certainly want to be open to feedback, especially from professionals like teachers and psychologists, don’t let an internet word of advice weigh you down. Have fun with it, and do you like you do, you parenting rock star, you!

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Last Updated on February 20, 2019

13 Tips to Face Your Fears, Grow with Them and Enjoy the Ride

13 Tips to Face Your Fears, Grow with Them and Enjoy the Ride

Fear. I spend my life talking about fear — fighting fears, fixing fears and understanding fears. And yet I doubt I get 10 calls a year from people saying “Mandie can you help me fix my fear?”

Why is this so critically important to you?

The realization for me is that fear is not the fundamental driving force in your life it’s what regardless of whether I’m talking to a doctor, a teacher, a CEO’s, a senior citizens or teenager – every single one of those conversations has a direct correlation with your world.

Fear can range from the overwhelming desire to look away or stop in your tracks to literally fleeing your country and the life you knew. In this article, I will share you with 13 tips to face your fears and enjoy the ride.

1. Know That Fear Is Real, but Can Be Overcome

Right now around the world people are facing fear — real fear. Fear that I pray my children and I will never experience. Does that lessen my fears or your fears in your relativity safe 21st century life?

When I look at the world we all live in, I find that fear like so many other emotions can mean so many different things to so many different people:

  • The child who has to be physically dragged to their first day of school.
  • The man facing the judge.
  • The woman with her hand poised over the buttons over her phone because she has to walk down a dark corridor late at night alone.
  • The man as the surgeon says “count backwards from 10 Mr Smith.”
  • The woman that’s told “We are sorry, we can’t help you.”
  • The man that faces the empty circle of a gun and prays for his very existence.

These and a million more (Portrayed in every kind of movie, book or song you could imagine) are what make us human. We face fear and somehow move forward or are stopped in our tracks.

Like the rabbit in the headlights of the car that veers off through the field away from the tyres of the car or stays still praying for salvation. Like someone will save them. Sound familiar?

Fear is huge. Fear is everywhere and yet fear can be overcome, controlled and can even be a power for good.

2. Accept Your Fear

Firstly if you aren’t facing the barrel of the gun, atrocities that make the news or impeding death, that’s a good start. However it doesn’t mean your fear is any less real.

We are quick to say “I can’t moan, my life is not as bad as X.” While in theory, that’s honorable your appreciation of Mr. or Mrs. X’s horrific life won’t change anything directly. So accept your fear is relative to you.

And here’s what can be done.

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3. Get Some Perspective

I found myself asking anyone that would answer “what is your worst fear”. The answer that intrigued me the most came from my daughter (15 years old and she usually has a copy of Fight the Fear – my book – in her school bag so she can help someone else be as positive and confident as her. No matter what life throws up.)

And her fear, surprised me — heights. I pointed out that we live in a sprawling bungalow (one storey) and the highest she goes is two storeys’ at school! She laughed but added, fear isn’t like that Mum. I know it’s not a real fear, but it’s like when you stand on a chair and feel unsafe.

That girl will go far. Because she truly gets fear.

We know something is scary and yet we still do it. Why? Because we have a perspective to the fear. When you lose perspective, it can feel too big, and too scary.

So look around you to get some perspective on your fear:

  • Are you really at risk?
  • Will this kill you?
  • Which leads us on to..
  • If the worse was to happen what would it be?

4. Hold a Hand

As a coach, it is my job to holds someone’s metaphorical hand and help them face a fear.

Like the child petrified of the thunder storm or the teen that can’t get back in a car again after failing their test, your job as a parent is to reassure, encourage, enable and motivate someone to face something that ideally they never would choose to again.

We know many of our fears aren’t real. However, it is only when someone guides us with love, respect, lack of judgement and safety are we able to get through fear. And trust me, you can get through your fears. I’ve seen it so many times.

Ask yourself:

  • If the worse were to happen, what would that be?
  • Could that really happen?
  • If the worse did happen, how would you recover?
  • If the worse were to happen, what would you need to do next?

By seeing fear as not the end destination but part of being human, you can see through it’s wily evil ways and move forward.

5. Know Whose Hand You Hold Either Physically or Emotionally

This helps with fears for the rest of your life.

Think of someone you can always rely on (and ideally you won’t just answer yourself because that adds a lot of pressure to your existence!) And you will find that you’ve already found a way to get through fear.

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The beauty of this is that it means that fear becomes part of life not something to be feared and shied away from.

It means you know you can turn to your friend, partner, colleague, parent, sibling and say “Right I need to deal with this, and I’m going to need you to help me.”

For one moment, think about it from the other person’s view point. When we get to help other people we feel valued, loved, respected and lots of other positive emotions and we get a good dose of positive chemicals setting off in our bodies too.

Your fear, and your determination to fight it, helped someone else too. Now that’s cool right?

6. Understand That There Are Some Things Fear Will Never Touch

I like to find role models in life — people who have faced heroism, history changing moments, war, atrocities, miracles, life saving inventions.

Not everyone was looking for greatness, however they all found it. And one of my favourite books to date is written about Alistair Urquhart, the forgotten highlander. If this doesn’t get turned into a film in the future, then no man’s story is likely to.

Alistair went through the most horrific experiences in the 2nd world war. If you think of one of the awful things that happened back then in our world, Alistair went through at least 3 of them! Asked afterwards how did you cope? He talked about how whatever they did to his body, no matter how they starved, tortured, threatened or mocked him, they couldn’t have his mind. In his mind he was free.

Of all the people’s voices I’ve heard in my head over the years, this is one of those statements that reminds me anything is possible if you have faith and hope.

Look for the things in life that fear can’t touch. They will create confidence and faith for the future, whatever you face. And they will give you a sense of why being you is awesome.

Of all the billions of people on this planet, no one will have an answer identical to yours!

7. Process Your Fears to Carry on with Life

Being brave is not about sticking your chest out and smiling regardless of what hell you endure. It is about finding a way to emotionally process your fears to be able to keep going.

I have a tool kit of things I can rely on – tools, strategies, techniques. They include people to hug or talk to, music. hobbies, walks on the beach and even my favourite food. It sounds mad but at the times where I have questioned “how will I get through this?” I’ve found immense joy in doing the most unlikely of thing that makes me smile.

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It may be a short lived moment of happiness. However, it reminded that nothing stays the same and I can find away.

One client told me that it was crazy when it felt like their world was falling around their ears to run a bath to the brim (you don’t waste water) get the best bath oils, light too many candles, lock the door and drink a glass of bubbly (champagne is only for special occasions.)

Did that moment fix the disaster that my clients life felt? No, however it gave them a moment of calm and the brain is far quicker to find solutions, resolve and motivation to keep going when you do that.

It may feel like madness to do something you love, however it can be a powerful way to help you find solutions to the fears you face in life.

8. Assume the Worse

If you read the statement from the client above. Notice how they assumed it was wrong to fill the bath up to the top? How bubbly is only for special occasions?

Think how naughty they felt to be doing something that was not allowed?

  • Think about what age it may have made them feel?
  • Think about how they feel about champagne?
  • What special moments it’s been a part of in their lives?

And you can see how the assumptions they made about their “right” to have these things was not healthy.

When I drag the assumptions out of people’s words for them to see, they are often struck by how negative the words make them feel.

Don’t assume your words aren’t impacting on you. You can go through fear and actually enjoy the ride when you take the time to understand how you are letting words get to you.

9. Take a Fear That Feels Insurmountable Right Now.

If you were to repeat it to me out loud, what would you say?

Would you have blame on yourself in there? Would you assume others can do it and it’s just you? Would you feel small, unsuccessful, useless, unworthy?

Usually, when you do this exercise, you are able to spot the untruths that run wild in your head convincing you that you are doomed. And rarely when we are faced with our assumptions is there is a lot of evidence to them.

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10. You Are Not Defined by Your Fear

One fear does not define your life – be mindful of that. It is likely to lead you to thinking of all the times you’ve succeeded and bring a moment of calm, confidence and faith back to you.

11. Go with Fear

When you learn to go with fear, you could find yourself actually having fun, no seriously – having fun.

I have a few amazing clients I’m working with right now who would describe themselves as life long worriers, or pessimists. In the past that has served them well, enabling them to keep safe, steer clear of risks and even develop strategies in the event of disasters. However, now they find it’s becoming hard to break the cycle and they really want to because it’s holding them back.

Notice how they’ve found their hidden fears and want to face them?

One client said “I knew this was going to be tough, and I knew I couldn’t fight it alone and I knew you would be the one to help me.” Before I sat an incredibly successful, confident, capable business owner with a family and a social life to die for.

However, I’ve learned that the most successful looking lives can hide things that impact on life, success, love, happiness and business.

We didn’t start with the fear that they felt was holding them back, we broke the fear down, and found lots of little obstacles that had been deemed as “life” and “unchangeable” and “that’s just the way it is” by developing awareness to the little steps on the road to their obstacles to happiness and success they were able to tackle them in a different way.

12. Discover Great Skills in Your Scary Moments

And in that clients words “I came here to work with you to grow my company, and my own personal skills. I didn’t expect to get the children to be cleaning up after themselves and my partner being more attentive! It all feels a little magic.”

The moral is that out of the scariest of moments, we can find great skills we didn’t know we had. Find better, healthier, happier ways to live and find ways to enjoy life more. (And have a bit of magic!)

What a great place to be in ready for the next fear that thinks it’s going to get in the way of you, right?

13. Own Your Fear

Think back over these tips and come up with at least one example for each one. Write them down. Put them on your phone. Turn them into a piece of art. Turn them into a poem. Frame them. Go for a fast walk across the fields, beach, down town and repeat these things in your head to the sound of your feet on the ground.

We rarely take the time to appreciate how far we have come, how much we can achieve or what we are capable of – by really owning the tips in this article you will have given your brain a big fat dose of “Damn right I can do this!” and the motivation and accountability to say “Let’s find a way” through any fear.

You can’t help but feel good when you see that can you? And fear doesn’t stand a chance, does it?

More Resources About Fighting Fear

Featured photo credit: Ben White via unsplash.com

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