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Helping families make the most of personality differences.

Preparing for the 21st Century
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TAGS: Careers, Communication, Self-Management, Teenagers

Preparing for the 21st Century

Elizabeth Murphy, Ed.D.
ELIZABETH MURPHY, Ed.D., is a psychologist and type expert whose research focuses on verifying the development of normal personality differences according to the theory of psychological type. She works extensively with families and teams of people to improve communication and resolve relationship needs.
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When families are first introduced to type the excitement is mainly about knowing the child's preferences and how to use that knowledge to make family life better and the child more successful in life.  It is all about the child recognizing the specialty of their personality type and helping them develop that to its fullest potential.

In his new book, Range (published May 2019), author David Epstein asserts it will be the generalist who is better prepared for the world than the specialist.  The book description states it is "the ground-breaking and exhilarating exploration into how to succeed in the 21st Century."  How do we reconcile wanting our children to become the best they can be at their type (specialist) with the call for a generalist approach?  There is a way.

In his book Epstein discusses well-rounded success and posits that having diverse experiences is best for success.  You do more than just expose your children to options.  You discuss these and reflect on that experience.  He terms it self-regulatory learning.  You "expose broadly and reflect on that experience."  It sounds like a good rule to follow but how do I follow that and still respect my child's individuality?  Here is one option.

Knowing about type differences and validating the worth of those differences can be done through our daily language with children by verbalizing opposite choices.  "Some children like to get their work done first and then play.  Others like to play while they work.  Both are fine.  One way may work better for you.  The other works better for someone else.  The key is to know which is your best way and to get the job done.  Everyone has to get the job done." (An example of the Judging-Perceiving difference.)

Another example might be to say, "Some children like to lead by being the person on the stage or in front and others like to lead by being the ideas behind the scene that set the stage for the work to follow.  Both are valuable.  Find your way but know the other way may be better for someone else." (An Extraversion-Introversion difference.)

"Some work better with clear and precise directions while others work better with more open-ended kinds of tasks" (a Sensing-Intuition difference).  

"Some give direct and maybe critical feedback they believe will help the project succeed better while others solicit the input of others and focus on a collaborative approach to project generation" (a Thinking-Feeling difference).  

Adding the vocabulary of difference to your language with your children engenders a greater awareness of options that Epstein suggests will be necessary for success in the next century.

When do I go for diversity of experiences and when do I focus on my child's individual type?  My suggestion is this:  When life is calm encourage your children to try activities outside of their natural preferences "just for the experience."  After trying something once they can evaluate whether they want to repeat the experience of not.  When a child is stressed or tense because of events in his/her life use what you know about type to respond in the way that works best for that type.

An introverted child may not want to "talk" when they are upset but really appreciate a hug and your company.  An extraverted child might say many things they wish they could take back when upset, but just listen without judgment.  Focus only on the problem that is current.  Help them experience the breadth of options that Epstein proposes when they have their energy free for exploration but when their energy is limited because it is being drained by a life issue, deliver assistance in a way that matches their type.  That is not a time for stretching to new ways.

Epstein also suggested that the individual "reflect on their experiences."  Instead of just admiring what a child does, a type approach would suggest talking with them about what makes a project fun and what is required to complete the project - the work!   An excellent model for this technique is the Z-approach to decision making, where we look at the experience from a Sensing, Intuitive, Thinking and Feeling perspective.

Type does not operate in a vacuum.  The concepts can blend with other ideas offered for helping children be prepared for a future with challenges that will be unique for their generation.  It is the blend of type awareness (and use) with the other good ideas that will really prepare our children to succeed in the 21st century.



Not the typical gift
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TAGS: Boundaries, Differences, Encouragement, Parenting, Rewards

Not the Typical Gifts for Our Kids

Elizabeth Murphy, Ed.D.
ELIZABETH MURPHY, Ed.D., is a psychologist and type expert whose research focuses on verifying the development of normal personality differences according to the theory of psychological type. She works extensively with families and teams of people to improve communication and resolve relationship needs.
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Selecting a gift for those under the age of 5 is pure joy.  They like almost everything.  From that age on it is a challenge and by adulthood gift giving is like climbing Mt. Everest.

One gift for a new parent that seems ideal to me is the Night Nanny.  New parents get no sleep.  Prince William said when he heard of the birth of Prince Harry's son that he was "...pleased to welcome Prince Harry to the Sleep Deprivation Society of Parenting."

Night Nannies can help with that.  These nannies are terribly expensive, so this becomes a role for family, friends, and trusted others.  The Night Nanny is not coming to visit so there is no need to clean, to feed them, or to act as a host.  This person arrives when the parents are ready to go to bed.  This person feeds, changes, and attends to the baby all night so the parents can get a full night's rest.  When the family awakens to begin their day the Night Nanny leaves so there is no lingering.  I cannot think of a better gift to give once a month or every other week to parents with a newborn.  

A gift that grandparents can give that parents cannot is dedicated time and attention.  I was visiting and observed a grandfather sitting at a table with a three-year-old for over an hour.  I wondered what they were doing and saw that he was playing picture memory matches with her.  He must have played over 100 games and was smiling and enjoying the child who loved repeating the game over and over.  (Sensing children seem to do this more than Intuitive children.) I thought he earned "Grandparent of the Year" for that experience.


Another grandparent took the grandkids to Walmart.  Each had $10 to spend.  The gift was they could "shop" for as long as they want.  There was no time limit.  When they decided what they wanted they would pay for the purchase or keep their money and then everyone would go out for a meal together.  Usually, the parents said something like, "You have 5 minutes.  Hurry up and decide."  The grandparent had no time limit.  They could take forever to decide.  The temptation of the meal after shopping was to motivate closure but it is amazing how long children can explore toy shelves.

Another grandparent gift is to take the children places the parents are less likely to explore with them.  We went to the US Mint, the Dr. Pepper museum and did the treasure hunt there, watched how to make stained glass (and made dad a Father's Day mug), went to the airport park to watch planes take off and land using binoculars, and even went to Chucky Cheese.  Most of these are a once-in-a-lifetime adventure because you only need to do them once.

Grandma Camp or Grandpa Camp was always a favorite.  This can be a day camp or an overnight camp or a week-long camp.  The children move in with the grandparent and together they develop the activities for the week.  Parents are not involved and get a chance to miss their children who are being well-cared for and loved by others.

When the grandchildren are little it is much easier.  As they age the role of the grandparent switches from entertaining the child to attending events to watch the child play soccer, play tennis, run, perform musically, artistically, etc.  These are moments of pride and fun but not really a gift.  So, what do you give the parent of the older child?

My best guess is you give them the gift of respecting their way of rearing their children even if you have other ways you think are better.  They may have rules you would not set or no rules when you would set them.  They may choose different food habits or sleep habits than you chose for them when they were little.  Your expectations of the parent and the child may send an indirect message of judgment or criticism.  Acknowledge that you would have chosen differently but also acknowledge it is their turn to parent and they get to make the choices.  Offer interesting information when you find it.  Step in when you think something is hurting the child or the parent.  Most of the time that is not the case.  When there is no harm being done give the gift of respect and allow your child the chance to parent their child.

Gifts are fun to get but more fun to give.  The age of the recipient only dictates the way the fun will be experienced, but gift-giving never goes out of style.




Sensing Learners: Type Tip #8

Young Sensing learners typically enjoy multiple examples to prove a point or solidify a concept. The multiple examples are not so much for comprehension as they are for confirmation. They may have understood what was taught the first time but the additional examples confirm that they understood accurately. Teachers can tell their class that some students like only one or two examples and others like more, even 5 or 6 examples. If they only like a few examples they can appreciate that the additional examples are for friends in the class. Our experience is that most students do not mind if they know the reason for the additional examples. Otherwise they assume others are like them and ready to move on or even are bored by the repeating examples.


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PeopleStripes.org article
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TAGS: Relationships, Communication, Encouragement, Parenting

Meet, Greet, Repeat – Sweet!

Elizabeth Murphy, Ed.D.
ELIZABETH MURPHY, Ed.D., is a psychologist and type expert whose research focuses on verifying the development of normal personality differences according to the theory of psychological type. She works extensively with families and teams of people to improve communication and resolve relationship needs.
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Children need to feel welcomed when they enter a room.  When they are ignored, it can inadvertently send the signal that they are not welcome, or worse, not even noticed.  This applies at home as well as at school.

We greet with words, with actions, and with nonverbal body and eye language. Does anyone remember the clever hand greeting between Annie James and her chauffeur in the movie, The Parent Trap?  Her twin, Hallie Parker, had to learn it exactly if they were going to be able to pull off their charade and switch families.  If you notice they were smiling when they did the routine.

Some teachers have established innovative ways to greet the children in their classes.  Most importantly, they greet each child each day.

One teacher of adolescents created a unique handshake for each student.  He stands at the door of his class and greets each one in their special way.  Although I admire that style it is not one that would work for me.  I would spend more time worrying about my handshake memory than actually welcoming the student.


Some elementary teachers have created a visual they hang right at the doorway.  It includes a heart, a fist-bump, a handshake, and a high-five.  As each child enters, they touch the greeting they would like from the teacher that day.  I love that they get to choose and I like the variety of options.  You could add a wave, a bow/curtsy, or a mind-meld.  Any options are fine so long as the child is greeted every day in a way that matches their comfort level.

Why every day?  Have you ever seen a dog welcome their owner when they see them?  Some bark but mostly they swish their tail vigorously.  They are saying, "I am thrilled to see you."  Everyone knows what a wagging tail means.  Unfortunately, humans are not so obvious.  More than once I have heard a child say, "Ms. So and So does not like me.  She never even notices I am here."  Usually, the teacher is busy with some desk-task that had to be done and it had nothing to do with the child.  But that is the action the child perceives.  We have to become obvious.  We have to let them know they are welcome.

One year a teacher referred most of her class for behavior assessments because the children's behavior was so disrespectful and disruptive.  We asked her to spend two weeks greeting each child as they entered the room and to smile while doing it.  Then we would look at the list.  Amazingly (to her) the number went from a majority of students to one or two.  Her lack of connecting with the children created an adversarial learning environment.  By greeting them and connecting with them the whole dynamic changed.
 
The "Meet and Greet" is not just for school.  Home needs it, too.  Often parents are doing something and yell, "Is that you? Hi."  That is not the same as Meet and Greet.  The parent needs to stop what they are doing for the moment, face the child, and greet them any way that works. Don't say, "Give mom/dad a kiss or hug."  That is the child greeting you.  Say, "Let me hug, high-five or whatever you.  I am so glad to see you again." The whole process takes 3-5 seconds but makes a world of difference.

It works with a spouse or partner, too.  No matter what was happening when my husband came home I would greet him in the same spot for a hug and a kiss.  Some days we were not really talking to each other because we were fussing about an issue, but we never stopped our greetings.   The greeting confirmed the relationship even though there were issues to be resolved.

As I said, humans need to be obvious. They also need to be consistent.  Meet, greet, and repeat daily and you'll reap the benefits of a well-grounded relationship that can withstand the pressures of learning difficulties, anger, and frustrations that seep into most of our lives.

Don't forget to smile.




Failure might be an option
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TAGS: Guiding, Listening, Relationships, Problem Solving, Self-awareness, Teenagers

Failure is not an option - or is it?

Elizabeth Murphy, Ed.D.
ELIZABETH MURPHY, Ed.D., is a psychologist and type expert whose research focuses on verifying the development of normal personality differences according to the theory of psychological type. She works extensively with families and teams of people to improve communication and resolve relationship needs.
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In the movie Apollo 13, when the NASA team on earth was trying to determine a way to get the astronauts home, the team leader says to the group, "Failure is not an option." It sounds good in the movie but let's see how that plays out in real life. Here are some examples from Wanderlust Worker:

  1. Walt Disney was fired from the Kansas City Star because his editor felt Disney "lacked imagination and had no good ideas."
  2. Oprah was declared "unfit for television" by a TV producer.
  3. J.K. Rowling had 12 publishers reject the Harry Potter manuscript.
  4. According to reports, Colonel Sanders had 1009 people reject him when he pitched his chicken recipe to restaurants.
  5. Michael Jordan failed to make the varsity basketball team.

The list goes on. The website lists 48 overall successful people who failed.

Michael Jordan said, "I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed." He was still inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009.

Thomas Edison once told a reporter, "I have not failed 10,000 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 10,000 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work." Failure can be part of the path to success.


With all that said the moment of failure feels miserable. Emotions are all over the place and the brain is not thinking at its best. We each need to have a regrouping strategy to get us through the immediate impact of the failure.

Those with a Feeling preference need reassurance that the failure will not impede the relationship. When someone with a Feeling preference feels like a failure it tends to be accompanied with another thought. They worry that they let someone down. "Mom wanted me to get that scholarship." "I thought I could do this for you but I can't. Now you don't believe in me." The younger they are the more convinced they are that a revealed flaw means others in their life may reject them.

For some people with the Feeling preference this translates into an intense pressure to always do things right. You can help: hug them. Acknowledge the failure is there but the connection with them is solid. Offer to support them if they decide it is something they can try again. Take a moment and have fun interacting with them. Your presence matters at this moment.

Thinking - Feeling

Those with a Thinking preference see failure as a personal flaw that threatens their competence. Even when they know they are still competent they fear others will think less of their skills. They don't mind doing things over if the situation or the problem with the task improves each time but, when the end is there and the problem is not solved, frustration sets in for the Thinking child.

A hug is not the right tool at this time for this child. Reflective listening and honest assessment help more. Acknowledge that losing or failing at a task is frustrating because you thought you could do it. Remind them that although this is a failure, failure is temporary. It only lasts until a new solution is found or the task is mastered. Make this an interim moment when possible. Suggest that once they get their energy back you will problem-solve with them if they are still interested. Take a break to get that energy back by doing something else that is fun, by watching a video, or by taking a nap. Let the brain get some rest before tackling what seems like an impossible task.

Some children fear failure so much they develop into "failure avoiders." This is a learned coping strategy and can be unlearned. These children either try the most difficult task (no one is expected to be able to do it) or the easiest task (anyone can do it). Instead of following their interests they follow the path of greatest or least resistance. This solves the problem for the moment but does not teach the child how to deal with failure. Research supports that the only thing that motivates a failure-avoider is success.

One young man was failing math. His last test grade was 29. Success in his family was defined as having a test grade that was higher than the previous test score. He bought into that plan and improved each time but was still failing by school standards. It took almost the entire school year, but he brought his grade up to a C on his final test. This can be an ST approach if the strategy for improvement works. For an NF child you will need to monitor and praise each gain and celebrate the progress.

All children fail sometimes. Emotionally it is exhausting to fail for all types. We need to help our children recognize that failure is temporary. The way to help the Feeling child is not the same as the way to help a Thinking child. In a person's life story if you want to know if they were a success or failure it will depend on what chapter of their life you are reading.





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