We all know body language has a subconscious effect on how others perceive us, but did you know it also affects how we think about ourselves? It turns out that helping your kids feel more confident and powerful—emotionally, behaviorally, and physiologically—could be as simple as a change in posture.
Social psychologist Amy Cuddy demonstrates through her research that “power posing,” or holding a posture that appears confident even when you don’t actually feel that way, can have a tremendous positive ripple effect.
So what’s a power pose? It’s a physical expression of confidence, specifically related to posture. A power pose might involve raising or opening your arms, moving your hands away from your body or opening yourself up to the full extent (envision Wonder Woman).
The opposite of a power pose is making yourself smaller. It could be crossing your legs or arms, hunching over, holding your elbows, or generally closing up your body as if you were afraid of taking up space.
Here’s the cool stuff: Cuddy’s research on posture reveals that holding one of these poses for just two minutes can literally alter your hormones. Specifically, one can experience a significant increase dominance hormones (testosterone) and reduction in stress hormones (cortisol). As a result, people of all ages demonstrate increased willingness to take risks, boosted confidence, and better performance in demanding situations.
Sounds too good (and easy) to be true? Amy’s research is comprehensive and cuts across various populations. In fact, she’s received feedback from athletes, surgeons, politicians, elementary school students, victims of bullying, people with physical and mental disabilities, that adopting a confident pose generates feelings of self-assurance almost instantly.
How does one strike a power pose?
It’s the easiest thing! Have your kids try one of the poses below. The key is to maintain the pose for two minutes.
The Boss Pose
This one is useful when you are standing behind a table or desk. Stand with your feet wide apart and put your hands down on the table on both sides of your body, not in front of you. Chin up!
The Seated Power Pose
Spread your knees open wide and stretch your feet out (but not to the point of being uncomfortable). Raise one ankle and rest it on the opposite knee. Stretch your arms over your head, and put your hands on the back of your head.
The Superhero Power Pose
Put your feet in a wide stance, far apart from each other. Flare your elbows out and put your hands or fists on your hips. You’re ready to save the world!
Remember that these poses are not about having other people read your body language. Rather, they are about having your body communicate to your mind. Children don’t need to do these in front of anyone, so the next time they need a boost of confidence, they can excuse themselves to a private space to strike their favorite pose. It will be their little secret, and they will come back to the situation feeling a little more in control than before.
This was originally posted on PsychCentral as Boost Your Child’s Confidence in 2 Minutes (Illustrated)