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Helping families make the most of personality differences.

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Introversion-Extraversion
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TAGS: Guiding, Listening, Relationships, Communication, Differences, Parenting, Self-Management, Teenagers

Two Worlds: Extraversion and Introversion

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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My mother didn't know about Carl Jung, Myers and Briggs, the MBTI® assessment, or personality type, but she sure knew about people differences and extraversion and introversion. She seemed aware that sometimes I lived by what went on in the outer world of people and what I heard from others, while at other times I lived by the inner world of impressions and thoughts.

She had a message: sometimes answers and ideas are found with help from the outer world and sometimes they are found within. I got this message through her words.

When I pleaded: "But Mom, everybody is..." She replied, "If everybody jumped off a bridge would you jump off a bridge?" At other times, she'd say "Have you found out what YOU think?"

Thoughts on this came to me at the gym last week where, near the entrance lounge, where a small group of tweens clustered around one girl who held a cell phone. Hushed voices spoke:

"Do you want them to know?"
"You should say..."
"Yeah, but first say..."

With so many external voices flying around, I wondered if her inner voice was audible or was being drowned out. It would have been ideal if she really knew whether she even wanted to send a text, or what she wanted to say, when and in what words. Would she take time to reflect before she responded? Did she know she could stop and think on it before hitting send?

I find it troubling that the words "extraversion"and "introversion" (and active access to both) are often misapplied or misunderstood as mutually exclusive descriptions of sociability. When applied to people as a static label they seem much less helpful than my mother's approach.

When interacting with children (and adults) I try to keep both the extraversion and introversion preferences alive as common aspects we all share. Jung cautioned about one sidedness. He believed there are no pure and simple introverts and extraverts. It's more complicated than that. In my mind, it's more helpful to support the differentiation and use of both than it is to categorize social behavior. For example, when our hurried family lives are lived "on the fly," those brief (and precious) discussions with kids could be enriched by carving out some time for reflection.

I try to rely on the "communication cycle" which includes both reflection and expression. Some of us tend to move from reflection to expression while others tend to express first and then reflect on what's been said. Very often, after thoughts are verbalized and discussed, additional outlooks appear from reflection or chatting with others. It's helpful to have a follow-up discussion to add, modify, or clarify. Reviewing and summarizing decisions with your children can help ensure everyone truly understands the issue.

What are other ways to honor both extraversion and introversion? Rather than saying, "Pay attention." I could ask: "Are you paying attention to what's inside your head or outside your head?"

"What does that person say?" becomes a two-part question. "What do your friends say and what do you say to yourself?" Or "How often are you talking to and listening to others about the issue and how often are you talking and listening to yourself about the issue?" These sorts of prompts promote the awareness and use of turning both inward and outward.

The way I explain it may not be the way my mother would have, and the words may not be the same, but hopefully I'm passing on the intent of the message she gave me. You are under the influence of two worlds. I hope you become familiar with how and when they influence you. I hope you have experiences which allow you to know when to use each as the most relevant and helpful resource for information, inspiration, and energy.


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.


Family Meeting
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TAGS: Relationships, Siblings, Communication, Compromise, Differences, Problem Solving, Teenagers

Family Meetings – Creating a Safe Environment Where Everyone has a Voice

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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The other week, I could see tensions rising among the members of my family. There are many of us, 7 to be exact, and when dynamics are out of sorts, it can be felt in a huge way!

Family meetings are one way we try to work through frustrations and misunderstandings. Sadly, busy schedules, and everyone going in different directions, which is becoming more commonplace the older the kids get, have made it nearly impossible to find the time to talk.

We all know the importance in getting together and how it helps to keep us in balance. Having reached the critical level, a mandatory family meeting was set. We typically go around in a circle taking turns sharing our concerns, however this time, emotions were heated and those who are more vocal took center stage.

With my own emotions activated, I found it hard to keep order and structure, and more importantly, a safe and respectful environment, which is typically my role in the process. It is natural for me to pick up on the feelings of others and vital for my own sense of harmony to make sure each person is heard and respected. Keeping the peace became more challenging as this meeting took on a life of its own.


I knew deep down that there was more going on here than just a dinner squabble, and if we were ever going to get to the real issue, we needed to go deeper. Deep breath everyone! Not everyone can share their thoughts and feelings in a quick manner because some people need time to process before discussing their concerns. In a heated situation, those who are quick to react tend to get the floor, which isn't always good, as they may blurt out comments that don't necessarily reflect their true thoughts and feelings, or may represent them now but not later.

As the conversation turned to deeper hurts and a reveal of miscommunication and misunderstandings, tensions calmed. At least that is how it appeared on the outside, but what was really happening was that the vocal kids were feeling better having had the chance to express their issues, whereas two of the quieter family members who felt unheard had already left. The one who remained couldn't contain herself any longer, and firmly yet passionately, stated that no one ever listens to her, that she never has the chance to state what is on her mind or if she tries is often cut off.

Wow... this is our child who is accommodating, seeks harmony, and typically the peace keeper of the family, and sadly, due to this is she often overlooked because she won't speak out for fear of hurting someone. We listened now with our full attention and were enlightened by her wisdom and honesty.

In past groups that I have either led or participated in we often used a "talking stick" that would be passed around the circle. Speaking only when you have the stick in hand is the premise of this process.

Two major realizations came to me upon reflection of this particular family meeting, first, we need to meet more often before tensions reach maximum, and second, in order to meet the needs of all family members, we need to appreciate the differences in how we take in and process information. In other words, allow time for those who need to "reflect before they speak," and allow those who "speak before they reflect" to process as they speak.

Yes, it does seem that a family talking stick might just be the tool needed to help everyone feel listened to, and hopefully heard, throughout the process. I'm happy to say, we got to the real issue, shed tears, hugged it out, and now feel peace and balance in the house.

That is, until the next time!



PeopleStripes.org article
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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.



PeopleStripes.org article
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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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