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

Helping families make the most of personality differences.

6 Results tagged "Boundaries"

PeopleStripes.org article
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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.


Setting Limits and Respecting Choices
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TAGS: Guiding, Boundaries, Discipline, parenting, Problem Solving

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

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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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.



End of school...please!
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TAGS: Guiding, Procrastination, Boundaries, Encouragement, Homework, Learning, parenting, Teenagers, Testing

End of School, End of Report Period, End of Patience

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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There is nothing I hate worse than seeing potential wasted. Getting that dreaded email or phone call from an exasperated teacher certainly does not help the situation. 

Our school district has an online Parent Portal where parents can log in and monitor their child?s grades throughout the year. Now with five children this can become a full-time job in and of itself, so thankfully over the years there has not been a big need in my family to utilize this site, except with one child in particular. However, at the times I have checked all has seemed in order, then wham, near the end of a reporting period and definitely year end, chaos erupts! 

Year after year this has been the pattern with my daughter. Incredibly bright and high-scoring on standardized tests, yet negligent on doing homework or worse yet, doing it and not handing it in. As much as I appreciate her rationalization that doing homework is a waste of time when she already knows the material and can ace the exams, it does not help the grades. 



So far, she has been fortunate that teachers have allowed her to hand in assignments late, bringing a grade of D up to a B, although she is more than capable of an A. The anxiety in our house on that last night before graded assignments are due goes through the roof! To her credit, she will stay up all night long and get it done, but this Mom, who prides herself on structure and getting things done on time, preferably early, goes crazy in the process.

Dad, however, gets it. He has always been a procrastinator with little desire for schedules. Dad also recognizes, however, that there are times that structure and schedules are needed, and he often learned the hard way. His patience astounds me, and I for one am grateful to have him around especially at the end of the school year! 

Our daughter is going to be a Junior in high school this year, and I fear the leniency of teachers will diminish as she heads off to school, so perhaps like her dad, she will have to learn the hard way. In the meantime, I will continue to check Parent Portal and continually remind her to complete assignments and hand them in, encouraging her to keep track of assignments and due dates, and work a little each day to stay on top of things. 

Although she naturally waits until the last minute to get things done, she can learn to do them sooner, with a lot of guidance on our end. There will likely be some tough lessons in the future. But I will say this, I do admire her ability to take things in stride and get things done, even if at the very last minute.


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.


PeopleStripes.org article
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TAGS: Boundaries, Competition, Encouragement, Self-Management

The Challenge to Win Fairly and Lose Friendly

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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All children in elementary schools have to learn how to “win fairly and lose friendly.” The task is harder for some children than it is for others. To learn the lesson, beginning in preschool, there should be moments for winning and moments for losing. When teachers try to create an environment where “everyone wins,” children lose the opportunity to learn this skill.

The competitive child struggles most because many people misinterpret the spirit of the competitive child. They are usually not competing with the classmate as much as they are competing with themselves. It is difficult for these children to lose. They try so hard to do well and set high standards for success for themselves. When luck is involved (as it is in many card games and board games), they feel helpless to control the win. Their joy is not beating others. Their joy is in meeting their personal challenge. They want to be the best and they can become emotionally upset when they begin to lose. They are frustrated with their limitations and may react with an attack on others with comments like: “You must be cheating. This game is stupid. I don’t want to play anymore.” Losing friendly can become a real challenge.

They may need a moment alone to regain their composure when their frustration threshold is exceeded. They need to be taught that it is OK to feel badly, but there are expected social responses we need to share with the winner. Then ask if they would like to talk about a strategy to improve their chances next time. One such child was very upset playing “Clue” with the family because people were making special marks on their paper to help with guessing the solution. He did not know what they were doing or how to do it but he realized it put him “behind” in being able to guess the answers to the game of who did it, where did they do it, and with what weapon. Not being able to compete equally was frustrating. He needed to be taught the strategy of asking the right questions and keeping track of the information. Such a child would not enjoy playing a game he did not have an equal chance to win. 

Sometimes the young child will look like they are so upset. If you correct their attitude by saying, “No, you need to be able to lose sometimes because everybody loses sometimes,” that won’t comfort them. Instead, approach losing as a problem to be solved. Use active listening to hear the emotion the child is sharing. “So, today wasn’t your best day ever. If you were going to do the same thing tomorrow, what would you do differently to get a better outcome? What would you change about it?” We want them to feel empowered to manage their life and take charge of what works and what does not. Luck will be a factor they must address. With children who have a private nature, they may not be ready to talk when they are most upset. Tell them you will teach them about strategizing when they are ready and give them a code word to say (“hint”) when they are ready to discuss strategies. Avoid discussing the loss other than to identify critical elements to change. Talk about winning ways for the future.

What if the child is still frustrated? Give them time to calm down. The critical communication is: there are ways to win using strategic approaches but there is also luck, which cannot be controlled. Luck is what gives some games a bit of the unknown and a bit of fun. Teach them a simple social phrase to say in the moment but recognize that is only a part of the process of learning how to lose friendly. The other part is learning how to play fairly but smartly.

Keep the phrase “win fairly and lose friendly” as a guidepost in the moment. Take time to strategize for future games. Respect that losing for this child is a more difficult learning experience than it is for many other children.


Lesson in Self-Management
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TAGS: Decision Making, Guiding, Boundaries, Problem Solving, Self-Management

A Bike, a Trash Can, and a Lesson in Self-Management

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.
View full author bio

A father was taking his young daughter on a ride using her brand-new bike with training wheels. I watched the little girl riding on the sidewalk. The father was running ahead moving any trashcan that was in the way or little twigs that might be a bump for her. Basically, he was doing his best to make it a perfectly fine path for the child to ride. Instead of making the world a perfect place, he could have seen the bike ride as a natural opportunity for teaching self-management to the child. We need to encourage children to make decisions and live with the consequence of those decisions.

The bike ride was a great opportunity for a parent to use guidance. They could have stopped before they took their walk or their ride, looked down the block and said, “Do we see anything that might interfere with our ability to ride our bikes safely and successfully? If there is something like that trashcan in our way, what can we do? What is our best solution?”

Guiding is helping the child process different possibilities and then evaluating their chosen option for its reasonableness and its importance. If a child’s behaviors are inappropriate or put them in a dangerous situation, you of course stop the behavior immediately. That is not a moment for guiding. But if we want them to use problem-solving methods in the future, then we should provide opportunities for decision-making with guidance. In the rush of events that envelop parents, many may become directive and take the lead in solving the problem for the child.

Recently, I saw a parent with a child about the age of 4 and the child was pouring his cereal. The space between the box, the bowl, and the milk measured a little over an arm’s length. The parent said, “No. No. Put the cereal box right beside the bowl. Pour the cereal first and close the box top and then put it over here because you are done with it. Here is the milk. Be careful when you take off the lid. Then pour it and put the lid back on. When you are done put it here.”

The child was clearly able to pour the milk and the cereal. This could be an excellent time to sit back and use guidance rather than directives. There is no rush. There is no danger present. The parent could give the same information in different words. “I remember when I was little. I did that once and I had such a long space between where my bowl was compared to the milk and cereal. I ended up making a mess and I thought I might do it differently another day. What do you think?”

If the child says, “It’s fine,” say “Okay, I was just sharing my experience. It didn’t work for me. It’s OK if you want to try and make it work for you. If not, what do you think might happen? By the way, the house rule is everyone cleans up their mess. Whatever you decide is fine with me.” Then walk away. Leave the final decision in the hands of the child, but you can guide them with your language to process their thoughts. Guiding is setting the stage for good decision-making.

What if the child says, “Leave me alone. I can do this," and then spills the milk all over the table? You can respond: “Sometimes even when we think we made a great decision, things go wrong. Sorry. You know where the cleaning supplies are stored.”

You can remind the child periodically that some decisions are the child’s to make, some decisions are Mom’s to make, and some decisions are made in a shared way. (That’s a topic for another day!)

You are always willing to talk through any decision as a way to help your child think of the reasonableness and the importance of their choice.



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