PeopleStripes.org - Helping families make the most of personality differences.

Helping families make the most of personality differences.

Setting Limits and Respecting Choices

The Bungee Cord Between Setting Limits and Respecting Choices with Middle School Tweens

Jun 20, 2018
Elizabeth Murphy, EdD
ELIZABETH MURPHY, EdD, 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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Parents of children in middle school can feel they are caught by a bungee cord that whips them between giving their child independence and being fearful that the child is not ready to make decisions. Children this age are trying to establish their values as separate from the family, while at the same time loving the family and wanting to be part of that value system. Both parent and child experience the push and pull of this time period.

At times, problems may begin when the child's devotion and commitment to something, such as a sport, may be seen by the parent as a less important goal to consume their energies. They may want their child to focus on 'real' schoolwork in preparation for high school and college.

During the elementary years the child is more responsive to direction from adults and authority figures. Beginning in these tween years the child starts to listen to the inner drives that guide them. As much as possible, parents should listen to their child's interests and merge these with what is required. If football is important and academics are slipping, the battle should not be between football or academics. Instead, the focus should be a merger to respect both.

The goal is not a compromise. A compromise may neglect parts of each. The language might sound like this: "Wow, football is important to you and as a parent, academics and knowing you are getting a good academic foundation is important to me. So how can you balance your time best so you can do what you need to do in your athletic endeavors without risking failing your classes and without being under constant emotional stress because you have to go to a class without your assignment completed? Let's talk about how we are going to balance that time and balance your energy so you can get the best of both."

At this age, the parent must show some respect for the child's choices, but not abandon the family value they know is equally or even more important to what the child wants to do. One of the rules that I used throughout high school clarified a template for the child. I would say, "Final decision is yours when there is an honest choice that is yours to make. If there is a law or a rule, you do not break the law or the rule, period. You negotiate to change the rule for the next time, but you never just break it because you suddenly disagree with it. So any time somebody wanted to change their curfew or change a house rule, I would say, "What we do in Congress is we revise the law; we just don't break it. So you have to obey the rule this time but you can always sit down and negotiate for a change for the future." That seemed to respect the right of input for both parent and child, and reduced emotional reactions in the moment.

What if the child violates a rule? Apply a natural consequence or an identified consequence. Then sit down and negotiate any changes if changes are reasonable. Some will not be and then you can say this is not a rule that can be changed at this time. My children always challenged why I would not pay them for good grades. That was not something I wanted to do so I would not yield. We could always discuss the issue and they could present their views but the negotiation did not always result in the change they wanted.

Any time the tween begins to complain about rules remind them you are willing to discuss the issue with them. Explain you will let them present their views and you will present yours. Do not have the discussion that moment. Set a time where everyone can dedicate at least 15 uninterrupted minutes to sit together to discuss the issue. Hopefully, that date and time can happen within a day or two of the request. Fifteen minutes is more than adequate.

If emotions erupt and a lecture or argument begins, pause the negotiation and reschedule a time after an hour has passed. You are teaching your child to solve problems in an adult way and to respect differences without necessarily adopting the other person's view. This skill will serve them well, and it will reduce the snap back of that bungee cord.


You can learn more about the individual personality type of your kids and students by having them take the MMTIC® assessment. Get a better understanding of your own preferences by taking the MBTI® assessment.


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If you are adamant about an opinion or a procedure, add the phrase "for me" at the end so the child knows other opinions may also have value. Instead of saying, "pineapple pizza is disgusting," say "pineapple pizza is disgusting for me." That was undoubtedly your intent but the explicit phrase opens the door for the young listener to have a different opinion.


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YVONNE NELSON-REID, BEd, MA, MA, PhD, is a mother of 5, writer, teacher, depth psychologist, and career coach. Teaching in a classroom, in her home, or on the ice as a figure skating coach has taught her a great deal about relationships and the importance of communication. As a certified MBTI and MMTIC professional, she uses typology as a tool for helping others understand differences and communicate more effectively. As a career coach she assists others in discovering careers that suit their personality.
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Toss That Time-Out Chair: Use the Z-Model

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Elizabeth Murphy, EdD
ELIZABETH MURPHY, EdD, 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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Mollie Allen, MEd
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Time for a big family decision? When there are many things to discuss, many people will be involved, everyone will have to adjust, and the resolution won't happen overnight. Everyone needs to be heard, so a family meeting is the way to go.

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The Z Problem Solving Model

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Dec 22, 2020
Mollie Allen, MEd
MOLLIE ALLEN, MEd, is a certified coach, teacher and consultant working with groups and individuals. With undergraduate degrees in Child Development and Special Education and a M.Ed. in Administration and Supervision she worked in schools and in private practice with students of all ages and levels for 25 years.
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The holidays bring a big challenge to families who want to be together, especially in a pandemic. Fortunately we have a proven model for decision-making. The Zig Zag method walks us through Sending, Intuition, Thinking, and Feeling and helps us arrive at a decision that honors the facts and the people.

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Still Coping with Covid

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Feb 17, 2021
Yvonne Nelson-Reid, BEd, MA, MA, PhD
YVONNE NELSON-REID, BEd, MA, MA, PhD, is a mother of 5, writer, teacher, depth psychologist, and career coach. Teaching in a classroom, in her home, or on the ice as a figure skating coach has taught her a great deal about relationships and the importance of communication. As a certified MBTI and MMTIC professional, she uses typology as a tool for helping others understand differences and communicate more effectively. As a career coach she assists others in discovering careers that suit their personality.
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Coping with Covid-19 continues to be a major challenge for families. In this People Stripes article Yvonne Nelson-Reid explores more type-based techniques for getting through these tough times.

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How do you approach time?

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Jun 02, 2021
Yvonne Nelson-Reid, BEd, MA, MA, PhD
YVONNE NELSON-REID, BEd, MA, MA, PhD, is a mother of 5, writer, teacher, depth psychologist, and career coach. Teaching in a classroom, in her home, or on the ice as a figure skating coach has taught her a great deal about relationships and the importance of communication. As a certified MBTI and MMTIC professional, she uses typology as a tool for helping others understand differences and communicate more effectively. As a career coach she assists others in discovering careers that suit their personality.
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Yvonne Nelson-Reid discusses the distinctions between preferences for Judging and Perceiving in her two youngest children, in grades 11 and 12, when they had the opportunity to take Advanced Placement Environmental Science together. The preferences indicate an important distinction in personalities, as preferences for Judging and Perceiving determine how people approach established deadlines.

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Introvert-Extravert Learners : Type Tip #9

We know from previous research that extraverts remember more of a chapter if they read it thoroughly AFTER the lecture or demonstration. Introverts tend to remember more if they read thoroughly BEFORE the lecture or demonstration. I would tell classes you must read the chapter thoroughly some time before the test but you can skim first before the lecture and read thoroughly later if that helps you be more efficient in your learning. Teaching students to monitor their best ways to learn is an important metacognitive skill.


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