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Helping families make the most of personality differences.

17 Results tagged "Differences"

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.


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, 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: 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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