Avoiding status squabbles

I Throughout the early life of your child, try to avoid body language gestures that emphasize height, size, or power differentials like looming over someone, placing your hands on your hips, shouting, or blocking their way These can come back and bite you I Use real signals of intellectual power instead. Keep calm and use assertive body language like eye contact (though not hard staring); open, emphatic, but unswerving gestures; and physical confidence rather than underlying aggression I Many if not most family squabbles are prompted by status incon-gruence In an animal colony this would be sorted out by fighting, but, luckily, humans are usually less willing to gouge, claw, and wrestle to establish the pecking order Always remember that no hierarchy is ever totally stable People leave home and get promoted in the workplace, family members age, and the nurturers and protectors become the ones needing to be cared for Status squabbles in families focus around seating and sleeping arrangements, space, food, fairness, and tokens of power like the remote control or car keys I Parents often try to succumb to these constant battles by dividing rather than ruling. If each family member has his or her own space with their own TV and computer, the status battles appear to vanish at one stroke . With its own remote control and mouse in its hand, a child can feel in charge of its own destiny . Unfortunately, destiny isn't all about life on screen. By sidelining children (and adults!) in this way, they can miss out on real life and the vital lessons that need to be learned for survival Because of the computer, an entire generation has grown up wielding false feelings of grandeur and power. Having had their own space and virtual kingdom for most of their growing years, but without ever learning the skills of real status or transactional development, this generation could end up in trouble . Even bad transactions are better than no transactions at all, as no communication means no learning I In body language transactions among family members or even close friends, there is often a parent/adult/child ratio that can cause transactional success or transactional failure How many of us have had arguments with our parents for "still talking to me as though I'm a child"? And how many parents have felt aggravated when their adult child fails to treat them with respect any more? I It's very rare for family members to use the adult-to-adult behavior and body language that we learn to strive for in our business relationships . This is where both people are acting in a way to imply even status and using calm and unprejudiced language In fact, this style of communication would be almost unnatural in a family setting, where there will always be a perception of pecking order

Emphasized child displays may include: I Shouting I Stamping I Clenched fists

I Folded arms to signal rebellion or stubbornness I Waving someone away I Shrugging

I Cutoffs, like covering the face or shutting the eyes I Crying

I Sticking out of the bottom lip or jutting the jaw I Curling into self, hunching, head down I Door slamming I Giggling I Wrestling I Play fighting

Emphasized parent displays may include: I Finger pointing or wagging I Staring I Hands on hips I Body blocking

I Standing with legs astride I Head shaking or head-baton I Tutting I Rolling eyes I Puffing

I Nurturing, for example, stroking, hugging, ruffling hair, wiping face, grooming gestures, offering food, and so on

Continue reading here: Creating Complementary Behaviors

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