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Helping families make the most of personality differences.

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TAGS: Decision Making, Guiding, Listening, Choices, Communication, Differences, Mothering Styles, Teenagers

Over Scheduled – Knowing When Enough is Enough

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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You know the moment. School is back in session and within that first day we are already being notified about new clubs for the kids to join, registration for Fall sports, and involvement in school extra-curricular activities, such as marching band, football, cheerleading, etc.

Honestly, it can get overwhelming. To go from a relaxed summer schedule to a full-on minute-by-minute detailed schedule is a bit of a shock to the system, not only to parents but to kids as well.

Where do we draw the line? Some kids love to be active and involved in everything, whereas others need time to themselves to energize and reflect. Each child's needs are different; knowing that and making choices around that can be challenging, especially when parental expectations and unrecognized dreams come into play.

I grew up on a farm. Back in my day, we were expected to entertain ourselves, to play outside, and extra driving trips to town were frowned upon. The activity rule in our home was one extra activity per season; for me that was figure skating in the winter and playing ball in the summer.



I felt isolated on the farm and really missed being with friends. My brother, on the other hand, was quite content spending time on his own, reading, hanging out in the woods, and enjoying his own company. So, when it came time to begin choosing activities for my own kids to participate in, I took up my own mom's rule of one activity per season. This allowed each child to have some down time and to not feel overwhelmed with such a busy schedule.

With five kids, this also made it easier for me to get each kid to wherever they needed to be. A friend of mine felt guilty if she didn't have her kids involved in everything, even at the expense of her own sanity and logistical nightmare. Who is right? Who is wrong?

I don't think there is a right or wrong. I soon discovered that my oldest was quite content being involved in just one activity at a time and enjoyed her time at home, either quietly playing on her own or working on some type of creative project. Realizing this wasn't going to work for my second child, we soon discovered having more structured and active time was important; play dates and team events allowed for much needed interaction and engagement.

It seems to me that really listening to your individual child's requests and needs is so very important. When to nudge gently, or push more intensely, or to pull back is an art in and of itself and one I think parents develop over a lifetime, yet they still can't quite decide if they did enough or too much. Perhaps we were quiet children who weren't engaged in social activities so we want to make sure our kids are because we might feel like we missed out on something.

Or we were so involved in activities in our own childhood that we want our kids to have down time and enjoy just being a kid. To top it off, many feel pressures from other parents signaling that they aren't doing enough.

Once registered for a sport or event, our family rule is that you must stick it out for the season, then if you really hate it, you can drop it and move on to something else. Try a few activities to see what moves you and inspires passion, then choose from there.

Because I am one mom with 5 kids, and realizing that I was not supermom, nor able to teleport kids from one activity to another, I knew some restrictions needed to be in place. I can't be in two places at once! For the most part, it seems to be working in our home, but time will tell when my kids become parents themselves.

We do the best we can and the rest will just have to work itself out. Enjoy down time when you have it. Enjoy cheering on your kids as they explore the world in new and exciting ways! Most important of all, pay attention to what your children say or the actions they convey regarding extra curricular activities, knowing it will be different for each child.


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: 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: Decision Making, Guiding, Listening, Boundaries, Choices, Communication, Encouragement, Mothering Styles, parenting, Problem Solving, Self-Management, Teenagers

Help or Hire?

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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Children love when we wait on them hand and foot. Who doesn't? Sometimes, without meaning to, we inadvertently encourage children to feign helplessness because we rush to help too soon. Here is a suggested strategy that works well for those occasions.

My granddaughter was scratching an itch on her hand and I suggested using some hand lotion to help with the problem. I told her the lotion was in my bathroom. She got up, went there, and then called "I can't find it."

Now, my first impulse was to get up and find it for her, but we have a policy in the home called "Help or Hire." Any time people need help because they cannot do the task, they overestimated their skills, or they are emotionally exhausted and just need some TLC, then Help is always there. But if the person is very capable and still plays the helpless card then they must HIRE the help.

I thought my granddaughter was more than capable so I answered her with these words. "I trust in your skills to find the lotion but if you want to hire my help it will cost you 50 cents."

She thought for a moment, decided to give it one more try and magically she found the lotion. We help when help is NEEDED but hire when we just don't feel like doing it on our own. The system works. Sometimes my fee is money and sometimes it is chores. I don't worry about always charging the same rate. I just tell them I am a consultant and my rates can change.

Another version of this is the lost and found box. One mother said she put any electronics she found laying around the house or on the floor (IPADs, phones, Nintendos, Wii controllers) in a storage box. She tells her children the article has been impounded and they have to pay the fee to get it out of impound. She explains that is what the police do with cars they find abandoned. The parent can determine the amount of the impound fee. Again, I encourage you to allow the impound fee to be paid in money or chores. Tied to this is a clear expectation and awareness of the location where the electronics should be kept.

Be careful with impounding! Kids can also impound electronics that parents leave scattered around the home so do not start this system unless you want to follow it, too.

What if after your "Help or Hire" offer they say, "Never mind. I'll do without." That is a choice. You would not use this strategy if YOU asked them to do the task. It is to be used when they ask for your help.

Remind them you will always be there when they NEED you but you will not disrespect their independence by responding to requests they could complete on their own. We can always do nice surprises for those we love but solving every problem for our children sends a very different message. Rather than a sign of support, intervening too soon can actually send a message of disrespect.




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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.




Choices
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TAGS: Decision Making, Guiding, About MMTIC, Choices, Communication, Differences, Preparation, Self-Management

Using Choices to Increase Individuality

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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Teachers and parents often agree that individuality should be encouraged in the home and in the classroom, but sometimes we hear comments from teachers that sound like this: "How am I supposed to do that when there are more than 30 students in the class?"

Schedules and requirements can exhaust teachers, so even when their heart is willing the energy is not there. Parents and teachers can begin the differentiation process with their children by speaking in pairs of choices that resonate with Jung's theory.

Giving children a chance to select the way they think or feel is good for them because they will explore new and challenging ways of making decisions. The children may not know psychological type concepts but the parent and teacher can open the door to Jung's ideas by talking in pairs and giving type choices. Maintaining the same task expectation for all but allowing varied ways of accomplishing that task objective can increase individual development and expression.

Adults new to the theory of personality type ideas sometimes struggle with developing pairs of choices for the children. Having a standard set of options for each of the dichotomies can be a beginning point. These can be exchanged for a million other paired options.

It is important that the "choice pairs" contain an option from each side of the theory's dichotomies, and the children must have a choice. Offering these language choices several times daily gives children developmental opportunities and increases their chance to discover the best ways that work for them.

Some potential examples are listed for each of the dichotomies in Jung's theory. Encourage students to look at both perspectives but to start with their favorite way.

Extraversion-Introversion
  1. Would you like to talk about the story first with your friend and then complete the worksheet (E) or would you like to complete the worksheet first and then share your thoughts with your friend (I)?
  2. Would you like to study with a team (E) or on your own (I)?
  3. Would you like to talk out your ideas while you are forming your thoughts (E) or would you like to think about things before you share your ideas (I)?
Sensing-iNtuition
  1. Would you rather think about all the facts and information you know about this topic before you pick your idea of a project (S) or would you like to think of an innovative project first and then figure out how to make it real (N)?
  2. Do you like to follow directions that are clear and plentiful to do your best (S) or would you like a general idea of what to do so you can explore options of new ways to try (N)? If the child says they want directions, tell them they can remain and ask questions for as long as they need. More likely the Intuitive children will leave early and the Sensing children will ask questions until they are comfortable with their amount of directions given.
  3. Do you understand better when information is presented in order (S) or do you like making connections between ideas to learn (N)? Intuitive children seem to enjoy using mnemonic connections to help them recall specific information whereas Sensing children seem to like being able to memorize when the order is predictable and accurate.

Thinking-Feeling

  1. Do you decide what to do with your first thought (T) or do you decide what is more important and start there (F)?
  2. Do you choose what you think will produce the best project (T) or do you choose what you think will be important to the team (F)?
  3. Do you notice what is incorrect first (T) or what is well done first (F)?
Judging-Perceiving
  1. Do you want to get your homework done well but as quickly as possible so you have more free time (J) or do you want to determine the last moment you can start and still get it done well (P)? If the latter is your best way, calculate the last moment you can start and still get it done on time. You may want to add some extra time "just in case" there are unexpected interruptions.
  2. Do you do better when you know the plans for the day (J) or when there are unexpected surprises in the day (P)? Planful children can ask to be told when the schedule will change. Playful children can ask to take a personal "fun" break for 10 minutes if they have completed some of the work. The choice must be theirs. But all children must finish the work on time
  3. Do you like to work first and then play (J) or do you like to play around while you get your work done (P)? If your style is to be playful while you work be sure your playful style does not interfere with another person's working style.

What if your child can't choose? Tell them that either choice is a good place to begin. "Try one this time and try the other next time. The goal is to help you determine what is your best choice for you and to recognize there will be others in the class who might choose a different way."

Set a personal goal to incorporate dual options in your classroom daily and as many times a day as possible. Don't be overwhelmed-chose one set of differences to start and increase your use of language-driven choices from that point. Theoretically driven options encourage greater self-awareness in children, increase independence, and contribute to the healthy development of the child's personality.

The strategy and implementation are free. It takes only a moment of time and it makes a critical difference.


You can learn more about the dichotomies and your individual personality type by taking the MBTI® assessment; your children can learn their type by taking the MMTIC® assessment.





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