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Helping families make the most of personality differences.

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TAGS: Decision Making, Guiding, Relationships, Boundaries, Choices, Chores, Communication, Differences, Homework, Mothering Styles, parenting, Problem Solving, Self-Management, Teenagers

What’s Your POS (Parent Operating System)? And Where Does it Come From?

Mollie Allen, M.Ed.
MOLLIE ALLEN, M.ED., 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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A major challenge for some parents is learning how to support your children without forgetting about yourself. I developed habits and policies - my Parent Operating System - through experience and reflection. A foundational piece came after one of those "my project is due tomorrow" events.

It was after 10 pm and I found myself on a dark, wintry road driving to anyplace that had poster board. I was frustrated! It wasn't my project! It wasn't the first time this had happened. Why was I here? On the return drive I pondered: what was going on and how could I make it different? I had to find a way to reduce or eliminate my frustration without feeling like I'd left my child in the lurch.

Over the next few days I reviewed my internal conflict. I like learning and taking classes. I wanted my children to be successful in school and I wanted their projects to be fruitful learning experiences, not times of regret. I resented being taken off track and dropping home and work obligations to run errands at the last minute. I wanted to be positive and interested in school activities but on some occasions, I was not a happy camper and it showed.

I am a natural planner and organizer. According to personality type as offered by the Myers-Briggs® instrument, I have a preference for Judging. I like things settled and lean toward making decisions; I tend to separate my work from play. I am one who keeps a calendar visible in the central living space. There is a clock in almost every room. I keep index cards, memo pads, greeting cards, envelops, pens, and pencils handy. I label, alphabetize and number color-coded files.


Clichés such as "things in their place" and "in a timely manner" were invented for people like me. Yet with all that modeling it didn't seem like my habits were contagious at all. In fact, some of my children were developing their own and very different KOS (Kid Operating System). In personality type language, I saw preferences for Perceiving emerging. There was a tendency to lean towards further exploration and combine work with play. That attitude towards curiosity meant alternatives were flowing until the last possible moment - then a decision was made.


There had to be a way for us to learn to live productively and positively with these differences without me abdicating my values (and carrying frustration) and without their projects becoming a series of crises. How to honor what I knew about myself while accepting and supporting their way?

During a discussion with my children I recapped that winter night errand and how frustrated and angry I was and why. I suggested we inventory supplies, designate a big cabinet to hold school and craft supplies and decide what would be appropriate to be on hand all the time. Things like index cards, tape, scissors, various types of paper, compass, ruler, etc. Then we generated ideas of what is used sometimes, yet good to have on hand: rubber cement, oven baked clay, glue sticks for the glue gun. Behind the cabinet we stored poster board of various sizes.

I moved my ever-present magnetized shopping list and walked them over to the refrigerator where it and a pencil were now easily accessible. I made it very clear that I would take responsibility for purchasing what was on the list and would no longer go out on the spur of the moment for supplies. In order for the supplies to be available, it was their job to keep an eye on the cabinet contents and to write what was needed on the list. Of course, there were a few slip-ups but overall it allowed for more family-friendly evenings in the after-supper kitchen/homework room.

The immediate reward was a reduction in my own frustration and an increase in my interest in their homework and projects without wondering if I might trigger something for me to do. An unexpected reward was the problem solving and solutions that came about from this very different way of operating. From calling a neighbor to borrow paper, to kitchen concoctions and last-minute costumes, this change fostered my children's progress towards independent learning, and often included some fun.

Once I began to "let go" it gradually became easier for me to set my responsibilities apart from theirs. This became essential as a parent of middle and high school students. One frustrating evening and a few days of reflection lead to a central piece of my POS, and years of positive difference.


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



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TAGS: Guiding, Listening, Relationships, Communication, Compromise, Differences, Self-awareness, Teenagers

How was Your School Day? From No Response to an Overabundance of Details

Yvonne Nelson-Reid, B.Ed., M.A.
YVONNE NELSON-REID, B.Ed., M.A., is a mother of 5, writer, teacher, depth psychologist, and career coach. As a certified MBTI and MMTIC professional, she uses typology as a tool for helping others understand differences and communicate more effectively.
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Kids spend a great deal of time away from us during the day, either through day care or school, depending upon age and parents' schedules. So, what goes on during this time?

If you are like me, one of the first things I ask the kids when they come home is, "How was your day?" The answers vary from kid to kid, and especially from age to age. The younger kids were eager to share their day with me, but during the teen years, it is a bit more challenging to get them to open up. I can usually encourage them to at least share some of the day's events.

What I have found incredibly interesting, is what they choose to talk about and how. Some of my kids need to tell me everything all at once, in sequential order, from the moment they stepped out of the car until we reunited. Imagine the time needed to fully relive the entire day!

As much as I'd love to hear every detail, there just isn't enough time in the day. Rushing them or ignoring them just hurts feelings-clearly guidelines were needed. What I have found that works for me, is asking them to share 3 things they did in school, which gives them a chance to talk, and me, the time to listen.

But there are still those days where at that very moment I would be in the middle of something, and just didn't have the time to listen. I would then set up a specific time where we could talk about the day. As long as they knew they had a set time, they would usually be good to go, unless it was really important, in which case, we'd set a time limit on how long they could talk.

On the other hand, a couple of my other kids don't necessarily feel the need to share immediately, nor do they want to share the whole day, and in the order each event happened. They might bring up things as they come to mind throughout the evening or over dinner.

Perhaps a conversation would remind them of something that happened during the day and they would share at that moment, or one conversation might even trigger the memory of an event earlier in the week, which would then send them back into a current event, bouncing back and forth, and all around!

Regardless of what they share or how and when they choose to share it, it is important to honor their process and communication style, and yours as well.


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




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TAGS: Relationships, Boundaries, Class Participation, Compromise, Differences, Learning, parenting, Self-Management, Teenagers

“My Teacher Hates Me! I Hate My Teacher!” – The Joys of a New School Year

Yvonne Nelson-Reid, B.Ed., M.A.
YVONNE NELSON-REID, B.Ed., M.A., is a mother of 5, writer, teacher, depth psychologist, and career coach. As a certified MBTI and MMTIC professional, she uses typology as a tool for helping others understand differences and communicate more effectively.
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It never fails, at some point in time, your child will have a teacher they do not like, or who does not like them. I've always dreaded the tension leading up to that moment where our child finds out who their new teachers will be. It will either be a huge celebration or pure agony as one awaits the start of the school year.  

Upon agonizing news, I've known many parents who immediately call the school demanding that their child be moved to another teacher. There are good teachers and bad teachers, just like in the work force where we each come upon great managers and not-so-great managers.

Do you run away every time you are faced with a conflict? When does one need to step in and demand a new teacher, or new manager, or do you just slip away quietly to a new school or job? Could this be the perfect opportunity to learn how to deal with interpersonal conflict?

I've always struggled with knowing when to step into a difficult situation and when to let it work itself out. Interpersonal relationships are core to our very existence. Whether we like it or not we do have to interact with other human beings, whether it be classmates, teachers, co-workers, or bosses.


My philosophy has always been to teach my kids to work through conflict with healthy communication. So, what does that mean? We each have different personalities: sometimes they don't click so well together and sometimes they do. Understanding compromise and speaking our own truth, with respect, seems like the key behavior, yet it can be so difficult to do.

Learning how to work through difficult situations is an important life skill, so my philosophy has always been to encourage my child to stick it out and see how the year progresses, assisting as needed. Many times, all the rumors they first heard about a teacher didn't ring true for them and they had a wonderful year. The only time I ever stepped in was when the school had switched teachers around the following year and my daughter ended up with the same teacher two years in a row... the first year didn't go so well, so I knew I needed to step in to prevent a similar situation the next year.

Talking with teachers at the beginning of the school year and establishing a relationship right at the start has certainly helped me, and I hope the teachers, too. One of my daughters has an innate and odd reaction to conflict situations. She smiles. Yes, that is right, she smiles. It took us a while to figure out that this was her natural reaction to uncomfortable situations or when she, or anyone for that matter, is being reprimanded.

You can imagine how we reacted at first... oh, she could sure get us wound up! We realized that this could cause some major problems in school so at the beginning of each year, we would meet with the teachers to explain that she really wasn't trying to make them even more angry, but that she would react like this through any tense encounters. In sharing this with them, potential conflicts could be prevented.

Discussing learning styles, how our children take in information and make decisions, their comfort level with classroom interaction, and homework habits, goes a long way in helping teachers understand our children's different personalities. Not that it should ever be an excuse for lack of participation or incomplete homework, but instead, a way to get to know and better understand our child as a student.

Some years are easier than others, my hope, however, is that through it all, not only will our children learn math, writing, and science, but how to work with others, how to appreciate differences, and how to respectfully speak up when those differences arise.


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


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TAGS: Procrastination, Relationships, Chores, Communication, Differences, Discipline, Mothering Styles, parenting

School Morning Routines… or Not

Yvonne Nelson-Reid, B.Ed., M.A.
YVONNE NELSON-REID, B.Ed., M.A., is a mother of 5, writer, teacher, depth psychologist, and career coach. As a certified MBTI and MMTIC professional, she uses typology as a tool for helping others understand differences and communicate more effectively.
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As a parent, I am sure you will relate well to this one! School mornings... chaos! Everyone has somewhere they need to be, each with their own schedule and arrival times. Our society does not function on going at your own pace or getting there when you get there.

You would think that those who typically get up late and run out at the last minute would be the most stressed, but not in our house! Those are the kids who seem most chill about throwing on their clothes, probably yesterday's clothes, popping a mint, and putting their hair up in a messy ponytail.

They seem to go with the flow and handle what comes at them moment to moment. On the other side of this scenario, I have the kid who sets multiple alarms, just in case one doesn't work, who gets up an hour or more before they have to be anywhere. Although they could actually be ready in 10 minutes max, they take an hour.



The routine must remain constant. Slow breakfast, a little Netflix, getting dressed, washing face, brushing teeth, combing hair, organizing and reorganizing the backpack, and reviewing the day's schedule. Again, all of this could take 10 minutes, but it is about the process. So, imagine, when that person misses the alarm... pure panic! Even if there is still 30 minutes to get ready before leaving.

Let me be clear, yelling at them to get moving won't work! The more pressure they feel, the more panicked they become, and the less efficient the process. Rather than focus on getting ready, the panic takes over and they tend to run in circles, tears flowing, hysteria rising, not knowing where to start! Remain calm... that is the best tactic.

Even offering to help doesn't necessarily alleviate any stress, as the routine is what truly matters. I have found that as the kids have gotten older, it has become easier to help them remain calm and work through the process, reminding them that missing a short Netflix video in the morning won't ruin the day. They can always catch up at lunch.

Of course, when other family members engage in the chaos, telling said child to calm down, we arrive at what I would imagine Armageddon to be like. Needless to say, understanding how different we each are and doing our best to support those differences goes a long way in making the mornings run smoother.

It doesn't hurt to encourage those late risers to get up sooner, and an additional check in on those early risers is appreciated. The bottom line, my car leaves the garage at 7:40 am whether you are in it or not! Happy morning!



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TAGS: Relationships, Siblings, Differences, parenting

Siblings: Tender vs Tough

Yvonne Nelson-Reid, B.Ed., M.A.
YVONNE NELSON-REID, B.Ed., M.A., is a mother of 5, writer, teacher, depth psychologist, and career coach. As a certified MBTI and MMTIC professional, she uses typology as a tool for helping others understand differences and communicate more effectively.
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To me, empathy for others is an innate and integral part of who I am. So when I noticed a lack of empathy towards others in my 3rd child, my heart sank. 

With her siblings and with friends on the playground, she would come across as cold and uncaring. It wasn?t like she was mean or cruel, she just seemed removed from the situation. If someone got hurt, or was in a scuffle with another child, she could simply state a rational, logical explanation as to what happened, while others were crying and dramatically telling the story as it best fit their desired outcome. 

When watching her interact with others, I would often think of Spock from the Star Trek TV series. For her, everything had a logical explanation. Getting all sentimental and wrapped up in emotional drama didn?t make sense to her. As you can imagine, being the only child among her siblings that value truth over harmony, reason over compassion, and analysis over empathy, has created a great deal of friction and many misunderstandings. 

To hear her say that nobody likes her breaks my heart. To hear her siblings say she is rude and mean breaks my heart. Over the years, I have played the intermediary, often stepping in to ease hurt feelings on both sides. Reminding each of my children that it isn?t always about being rude or mean, although we have those moments, too, but that our behaviors could just be about different ways of assessing and acting on a situation. 

My analytical child does feel deeply and tends to reserve those moments when she deems it necessary. She has a passion for working with special needs children and those children who are underprivileged. It is here where her deep compassion and empathy for others shines through, with an emphasis on how she might better a system that seems in need of improvement. 

I encourage all my kids to recognize and appreciate differences in each other, not only in their sibling relationships but in those relationships outside of the home, with friends, teachers, and extended family. It isn?t always easy and we visit this conversation often. My hope is that one day they will truly get it. 

Understanding that being ?tender-hearted? or ?tough-minded? isn?t good or bad, but just a different way of being in the world, has helped to bridge the communication gaps.