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Helping families make the most of personality differences.

14 Results tagged "Communication"

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!



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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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