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Helping families make the most of personality differences.

Problem-solving
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TAGS: Decision Making, Guiding, Listening, Relationships, Choices, Communication, Encouragement, Problem Solving, Teenagers, Timeout

Toss That Time-Out Chair: Use the Z-Model

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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While you are clearing away decorations from the holiday and putting things back in place consider tossing that Time-Out Chair. Replace it with a Problem-Solving Chair.

Time-out is a staple in the set of parenting tools for managing a child's inappropriate behaviors. Children are emotionally upset and go to time-out. Children are aggressive and go to time-out. Children are destructive and are sent to time-out. When their time is "up" the parent asks if they are sorry or if they are ready to behave. Most children say, "yes." Many may not know what they are going to do differently but they are sorry they got into trouble. Time-out was a good alternative to spanking children but we can do even better.

Changing the chair to a Problem-Solving chair still removes the child from the moment and allows them time to regain control. The Problem-Solving chair requires the child to solve the problem and have an action or coping plan if the problem occurs again. The parent needs to take 3-5 minutes to talk with the child so the parent is more involved in the process than they are with the time-out method.

To successfully complete the problem-solving process the child would use the Z-model by looking at the problem from the perspective of the Sensing, Intuitive, Thinking, and Feeling approach.

1. Sensing: Ask "What happened? What was happening before that?"
2. Name the problem.
3. Talk about ways to solve the problem.
a. How have you solved that problem in the past? What have others done? (Sensing)
b. What else could you try? (Intuition)
c. Are you able to do your idea? Do you have the skills, the time, the tools? (Thinking)
d. How will others react when you solve your problem the new way? Is it important for you to learn a new way to solve the problem? (Feeling)

For example, imagine the child got frustrated because he could not get his truck to work. The wheels kept getting stuck and would not roll so he threw the truck against the wall. He is sent to the problem-solving space.


Tell him when he is ready to talk about solving the problem you will be ready to talk with him. If you are in the middle of doing something when he says he is ready, tell him you will be ready, too, as soon as you finish stirring the sauce, for example.

Then sit with him in the same space. Be at eye-level if possible. Ask question #1: What happened? What was happening before that?

Ask the child question #2: name the problem. If he is unable to say what the problem was, give him two choices and let him select. For example, you might say, "Is the problem that the truck's wheels were not working or is the problem that you do not like playing with trucks?"

When the child selects that the truck's wheels were not working say, "Let's decide how to solve that problem if it should happen again."

Sensing: Is the truck broken?  Can it be fixed?  Can you learn to fix it?  Will you need help to fix it?

Intuition: If the truck wheels cannot be fixed can you think of other ways to use the truck?  Can you think of other games to play? 

Thinking: Is this a special toy?  Is this an expensive toy?  What is the best way to get toys repaired?

Feeling: Is this toy important to you?  Is the wall important to the family?  How will people react to you if you ask for help or decide to fix the truck or to play with something else?

If the wheels on the truck do not work next time what will you do? 

Now you have a plan that will show you how to make good choices.

Invest the time to not only remove the child from the stressful situation but to use the moment to teach them problem-solving skills that will serve them for their lifetime.  This strategy also causes development as the child uses their personality preferences.


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Measure class participation by acquired content rather than who spoke aloud. At the end of the lesson have students, write, draw, or tell a partner three things they learned from the lesson presentation. If they can identify three pieces of content, they participated. Introverts may choose to participate by listening while extraverts may choose to participate by sharing. Letting each student participate in their best way honors differences.

Note: The skill of public expression is different than the skill of participation in a lecture or class presentation.


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