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

Helping families make the most of personality differences.

7 Results tagged "Problem-Solving"

PeopleStripes.org article
LINK COPIED TO CLIPBOARD

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.
View full author bio | Close

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.



PeopleStripes.org article
LINK COPIED TO CLIPBOARD

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.
View full author bio | Close

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
LINK COPIED TO CLIPBOARD

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.
View full author bio | Close

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.



Setting Limits and Respecting Choices
LINK COPIED TO CLIPBOARD

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.
View full author bio | Close

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.



Lesson in Self-Management
LINK COPIED TO CLIPBOARD

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 | Close

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.



Go to next page