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Helping families make the most of personality differences.

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Not the typical gift
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TAGS: Boundaries, Differences, Encouragement, Parenting, Rewards

Not the Typical Gifts for Our Kids

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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Selecting a gift for those under the age of 5 is pure joy.  They like almost everything.  From that age on it is a challenge and by adulthood gift giving is like climbing Mt. Everest.

One gift for a new parent that seems ideal to me is the Night Nanny.  New parents get no sleep.  Prince William said when he heard of the birth of Prince Harry's son that he was "...pleased to welcome Prince Harry to the Sleep Deprivation Society of Parenting."

Night Nannies can help with that.  These nannies are terribly expensive, so this becomes a role for family, friends, and trusted others.  The Night Nanny is not coming to visit so there is no need to clean, to feed them, or to act as a host.  This person arrives when the parents are ready to go to bed.  This person feeds, changes, and attends to the baby all night so the parents can get a full night's rest.  When the family awakens to begin their day the Night Nanny leaves so there is no lingering.  I cannot think of a better gift to give once a month or every other week to parents with a newborn.  

A gift that grandparents can give that parents cannot is dedicated time and attention.  I was visiting and observed a grandfather sitting at a table with a three-year-old for over an hour.  I wondered what they were doing and saw that he was playing picture memory matches with her.  He must have played over 100 games and was smiling and enjoying the child who loved repeating the game over and over.  (Sensing children seem to do this more than Intuitive children.) I thought he earned "Grandparent of the Year" for that experience.


Another grandparent took the grandkids to Walmart.  Each had $10 to spend.  The gift was they could "shop" for as long as they want.  There was no time limit.  When they decided what they wanted they would pay for the purchase or keep their money and then everyone would go out for a meal together.  Usually, the parents said something like, "You have 5 minutes.  Hurry up and decide."  The grandparent had no time limit.  They could take forever to decide.  The temptation of the meal after shopping was to motivate closure but it is amazing how long children can explore toy shelves.

Another grandparent gift is to take the children places the parents are less likely to explore with them.  We went to the US Mint, the Dr. Pepper museum and did the treasure hunt there, watched how to make stained glass (and made dad a Father's Day mug), went to the airport park to watch planes take off and land using binoculars, and even went to Chucky Cheese.  Most of these are a once-in-a-lifetime adventure because you only need to do them once.

Grandma Camp or Grandpa Camp was always a favorite.  This can be a day camp or an overnight camp or a week-long camp.  The children move in with the grandparent and together they develop the activities for the week.  Parents are not involved and get a chance to miss their children who are being well-cared for and loved by others.

When the grandchildren are little it is much easier.  As they age the role of the grandparent switches from entertaining the child to attending events to watch the child play soccer, play tennis, run, perform musically, artistically, etc.  These are moments of pride and fun but not really a gift.  So, what do you give the parent of the older child?

My best guess is you give them the gift of respecting their way of rearing their children even if you have other ways you think are better.  They may have rules you would not set or no rules when you would set them.  They may choose different food habits or sleep habits than you chose for them when they were little.  Your expectations of the parent and the child may send an indirect message of judgment or criticism.  Acknowledge that you would have chosen differently but also acknowledge it is their turn to parent and they get to make the choices.  Offer interesting information when you find it.  Step in when you think something is hurting the child or the parent.  Most of the time that is not the case.  When there is no harm being done give the gift of respect and allow your child the chance to parent their child.

Gifts are fun to get but more fun to give.  The age of the recipient only dictates the way the fun will be experienced, but gift-giving never goes out of style.




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TAGS: Relationships, Communication, Encouragement, Parenting

Meet, Greet, Repeat – Sweet!

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 need to feel welcomed when they enter a room.  When they are ignored, it can inadvertently send the signal that they are not welcome, or worse, not even noticed.  This applies at home as well as at school.

We greet with words, with actions, and with nonverbal body and eye language. Does anyone remember the clever hand greeting between Annie James and her chauffeur in the movie, The Parent Trap?  Her twin, Hallie Parker, had to learn it exactly if they were going to be able to pull off their charade and switch families.  If you notice they were smiling when they did the routine.

Some teachers have established innovative ways to greet the children in their classes.  Most importantly, they greet each child each day.

One teacher of adolescents created a unique handshake for each student.  He stands at the door of his class and greets each one in their special way.  Although I admire that style it is not one that would work for me.  I would spend more time worrying about my handshake memory than actually welcoming the student.


Some elementary teachers have created a visual they hang right at the doorway.  It includes a heart, a fist-bump, a handshake, and a high-five.  As each child enters, they touch the greeting they would like from the teacher that day.  I love that they get to choose and I like the variety of options.  You could add a wave, a bow/curtsy, or a mind-meld.  Any options are fine so long as the child is greeted every day in a way that matches their comfort level.

Why every day?  Have you ever seen a dog welcome their owner when they see them?  Some bark but mostly they swish their tail vigorously.  They are saying, "I am thrilled to see you."  Everyone knows what a wagging tail means.  Unfortunately, humans are not so obvious.  More than once I have heard a child say, "Ms. So and So does not like me.  She never even notices I am here."  Usually, the teacher is busy with some desk-task that had to be done and it had nothing to do with the child.  But that is the action the child perceives.  We have to become obvious.  We have to let them know they are welcome.

One year a teacher referred most of her class for behavior assessments because the children's behavior was so disrespectful and disruptive.  We asked her to spend two weeks greeting each child as they entered the room and to smile while doing it.  Then we would look at the list.  Amazingly (to her) the number went from a majority of students to one or two.  Her lack of connecting with the children created an adversarial learning environment.  By greeting them and connecting with them the whole dynamic changed.
 
The "Meet and Greet" is not just for school.  Home needs it, too.  Often parents are doing something and yell, "Is that you? Hi."  That is not the same as Meet and Greet.  The parent needs to stop what they are doing for the moment, face the child, and greet them any way that works. Don't say, "Give mom/dad a kiss or hug."  That is the child greeting you.  Say, "Let me hug, high-five or whatever you.  I am so glad to see you again." The whole process takes 3-5 seconds but makes a world of difference.

It works with a spouse or partner, too.  No matter what was happening when my husband came home I would greet him in the same spot for a hug and a kiss.  Some days we were not really talking to each other because we were fussing about an issue, but we never stopped our greetings.   The greeting confirmed the relationship even though there were issues to be resolved.

As I said, humans need to be obvious. They also need to be consistent.  Meet, greet, and repeat daily and you'll reap the benefits of a well-grounded relationship that can withstand the pressures of learning difficulties, anger, and frustrations that seep into most of our lives.

Don't forget to smile.




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.


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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.




Learning Styles
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TAGS: Procrastination, Class Participation, Differences, Encouragement, Homework, Learning, Problem Solving, Self-Management, Teenagers

Learning Styles – Meeting the Needs of the Student

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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In addition to being a parent, I am a teacher. I taught middle and high school for several years. Math and Health were the main subjects assigned to me. Everyone loved health class, as we could talk about so many topics relevant and important to the kids (the Alberta health curriculum rocks!).

Math on the other hand was always a challenge. Not every child likes math. My philosophy and mission was that math is fun and it was my job to demonstrate that to the students. Often it was the kids who struggled to understand math concepts who hated it, so how could I better help them to learn those concepts?

I developed several math games (ex: GeoGolf which taught geometry through game play), brought in cross curricular projects (ex: math poetry), and most important of all, reminded them consistently that if they were really trying and still didn't get it, that it wasn't them, it was me.

As a teacher, I firmly believe that I need to teach in a way that reaches each student. In other words, I need to teach you in the way you learn best, which means I need many tools in my math tool box to express a concept in a variety of ways. I still remember Ryan. Ryan needed extra time to complete tests. I knew many teachers at the time who enforced "when time is up it is up," regardless of whether you had finished. I could never understand this, since we were testing an understanding of the concepts and not how fast you could process the questions.

For Ryan, I gave extra time, and anyone else who might have needed it, but for him, this made the difference between passing or failing. Much of math is formulaic and laid out in a structured way. Some kids loved this and if I could give them step by step directions, they excelled.

Not Dean. He spent more time coming up with creative solutions to those same problems, finding the right answer but in a completely different way. I loved his imagination and the ingenuity of his solutions. Rather than knock him for his creative methods, I would have him explain them, at times even to the whole class, which not only gave him confidence, but also helped others who needed a different approach to aid in their understanding.


Homework was another potent topic. Why do hundreds of questions if you already get the concept? Some kids needed repetitive practice to drive home the process, whereas others got it quickly. Giving plenty of class time to complete work, allowed many students to finish before heading out to extra-curricular activities and other after school commitments.

There is a balance. If you choose to waste time in class, then time will be made up at home completing those assignments. My point in all of this is just how important it is to honor different learning styles through an understanding of personality. Some kids need to see the value in solving math problems, whereas others enjoy the analytical experience.

Formulas, step-by-step details, and facts appeal to some, whereas an imaginative approach with many possibilities excites others.

Time management is a big deal in school, especially considering the incredibly busy lives so many of our kids lead. Clearly, some kids like structure, using a planner to organize their daily activities and homework assignments, and we know many who don't. I have both in my house! I will be honest, as a planner myself, I find those kids the easiest to work with in helping them succeed in school.

Yet I do admire my more spontaneous kids who tend to take it all in stride, procrastinating until the final moment then pulling off a dynamic feat in the end. As frustrating as that can be for me, I can't help but appreciate this talent and ability. Until... their brilliance culminates and finally bursts forth a plan, only to realize that the items needed are still in the stores, which closed hours ago. Sigh... There is never a dull moment, as a parent or a teacher! Appreciate differences, appreciate differences, appreciate differences: my daily mantra.


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.




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