“I speak two languages: body & English.” – Mae West
Your kids will observe your body language to check your emotions and on how serious and confident you are in your role as a parent. And they are really clever; they sense everything that’s going on inside and outside of you and are quick to tune into it. Not only what you say, but also how you say it. They are like small scientists who can interpret what’s behind your actions by scanning everything you do and say:
- When you scream: they know you have lost control and they are willing to take it.
- When you go into word overflow: they know that you are easier to negotiate with, because you are using too much energy trying to convince them that you are serious. They will keep going until they get what they want or get out of doing what they don’t want to do.
- When you are aggressive: they know that you are not in control of your emotions any more and are easy to push to the next level where you give in and give up – when you lose it. Plus they know you are already feeling guilty about your behaviour because getting aggressive at your child is not the right thing to do. So they will learn to use these emotions to their advantage by saying things like, ‘ you don’t love me’ or ‘you love Katie more than me’ or ‘I hate you’ – which of course is hurtful.
- When you appear timid or insecure: when your shoulders are down, you are looking small and lowering your tone of voice almost to a whisper, they will sense that you are not confident with setting boundaries, saying no or sticking to the rules and routines. You are a very easy target to manipulate and they know they can quickly get what they want (or want to do) by contradicting you or arguing with what you said.
Here are a few tips for how you can not only appear confident and sincere, but genuinely feel more confident:
Don’t ‘look’ aggressive and threatening (i.e. pointing, pushing / pulling, being physical, out stare etc.) or small and timid.
Instead try to:
- Relax your shoulders, stand up straight, keep your head level and make appropriate eye. This way your body is saying ‘I am comfortable with the situation and fully in control of my self’.
Tone of voice:
We don’t need to be loud to be heard and respected.
- Lowering the pitch of your voice; keep it neutral and speak slowly.
- Take lots of breathing pauses in between your words so you don’t go into autopilot and start shaming or blaming your kids and end up in a negotiation battle.
Less is more. Too many words make our children stop listening and we might say things we regret later on.
- Before you say anything STOP, BREATHE and remind yourself to control your language AND your body language.
- Say what you have to say and STOP there. If you need to, you can simply keep repeating what you have just said, but DON’T add more words, they HAVE heard and understood you.
- If they keep going at you, you can ignore the behaviour (not the child). Take a time out, keep yourself busy, no physical contact (even eye contact is contact and an opening for them to keep going). Once they have stopped nagging, begging etc. you can turn your attention to them again. CLICK here to read more about ‘how to ignore unwanted behaviours
“Our bodies change our minds, and our minds can change our behaviour and our behaviour can change the outcome.” – Amy Cuddy
You will find that once you start acting more confidently with your body and words your mind will follow and you will feel more in control of yourself, which really boosts your confidence.
Your child will sense this, and over time will respect your behaviour because they won’t feel threatened since we are not aggressive, impulsive or timid but measured, assertive and respectful.
Of course, your kids will always test your boundaries, that is natural and just what they are supposed to do. But if we keep in control of ourselves they are more likely to come around quicker, the battles will ease and be less frequent – and you as a parent become safe company to be with.