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Helping families make the most of personality differences.

8 Results tagged "Problem-Solving"

Lesson in Self-Management
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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.
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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.


It’s Your Turn to do the Dishes
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TAGS: Guiding, Chores, Problem Solving

It’s Your Turn to do the Dishes

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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When two siblings have the same family chore to do at different times it is easy to observe how each person approaches the task in different ways. Our family’s task of doing dishes came with a dilemma. 

My daughter (10) had a preference for “getting the job done.” She would go to the kitchen and clean everything as quickly as possible so she could have more time for play. My son (8) would see this as a moment to play while getting the job done. Of course, that plan takes more time. My husband’s approach to life more closely matched that of my daughter so he thought her way was good and effective. My son’s way drove him crazy. 

My son thought that every piece of work should be treated with respect but handled with fun. Therefore, he would make up games to play while doing the dishes. He would clean half the table, then do part of the floor, then play with the hose used to rinse dishes. He was fine. He was happy. He was working. My husband was pacing the room totally agitated. His comments included: “Why does he have to do that?” “Why can’t he finish one thing and then go to the next?” “Why must everything be a game and take so long?” 

 So when it was my son’s turn to do the dishes we made my husband leave the house. He had to go take a walk or do something else and when he came back, if there was anything wrong with the job that was done, he could criticize my son. If there was not, then my husband had to acknowledge that it was not the output that was problematic but the process—the way my son had chosen to get the job done. 

 

 

 Acknowledging we have children with inherent and different ways of getting a job done means we should shift our focus to the output. Did the job get done well? One child may take longer but that can be OK. If a time limit is necessary just tell the child that they only have an hour and the child will get the job done within that time frame. The other child may be more time efficient but the quality of work may be the same. Judging a child’s work by the product completed rather than the process allows different styles to each be effective in the home. 

 What if the child does not do a good job? Then likely it is not about style differences. Perhaps the child needs to be taught how to load the dishwasher. Perhaps the child is pulling a “con” to see if they can pretend incompetence and someone will take over the job. Perhaps they are just being lazy and refusing to do the job competently because they don’t care. 

 When any of these happen, you reach in your bag of parenting tools and pull out other interventions. I would suggest telling the child they can leave the kitchen when the job is done adequately. Then ask if they need any help or guidance to understand what is expected. DO NOT show them by doing the job for them. DO NOT lecture on what they should be doing. Instead, remain calm, state once that the kitchen cleanup is their task for the evening and you look forward to reading a book together or doing something fun when they finish. Walk away. 

 Praise the completed task. Make no comment on the way the job was done. You can ask if they need any advice for their next time to clean the kitchen but allow them to get the job done in their best way—but get the job done.


Different Views of Decision Making
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TAGS: Decision Making, Differences, Mothering Styles, Problem Solving, Teenagers

Different Views of Decision Making

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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Last summer we moved from Virginia to Texas, leaving behind our college-aged daughter who was about to enter her sophomore year. It was a tough year for us both. She was homesick and I missed her dearly.

Over her December break, she started thinking about transferring schools so that she could move closer to us. Although this is what I had been hoping for, I knew this needed to be her decision. I could listen, I could lend support, and perhaps even encouraging words, but all in all, she needed to be the one to decide.

We are close so I thought the process would go smoothly for us, but I was wrong, at least at the start. Our personalities came up against each other. When I gather information to make a decision, I look at the big picture. I imagine what the future might look like and all the possibilities it might bring. She, on the other hand, has difficulty looking beyond the present and draws upon the past when thinking through a situation.

For her, it was hard to look beyond all her wonderful experiences at her current school: the professors, her friendships, her many successes. Yet at the same time she was feeling drawn to be closer to family. The unknown was terrifying her and making the “right” decision was an overwhelming task.



Of course, I jumped in with my excitement of new adventures, new beginnings, and all the amazing opportunities that a new bigger city could offer her. Each time we spoke, she seemed to get more and more frustrated, sometimes ending our calls abruptly with an agitated tone. I was just trying to help! At least I thought I was helping but once I thought about it more, I realized that I was offering her advice and suggestions based on what “I” would want to hear and not what “she” needed or wanted to hear.

Lending her support meant listening and validating her experience and what she would be leaving behind. Then I could gently bring in those possibilities that lay before her, a little at a time. When talking about those possibilities, however, I would bring in the past. For example, she was so afraid that she wouldn’t make new friends, so I would remind her of how she felt that way when she first started college, and how quickly she made some wonderful new friends.

Rather than just focus on the future, I brought in her past experiences to remind her that she had done it before and could do it again. Although I’m sure she will still have some tough times ahead of her, she has moved and so far, is thrilled with her decision. This experience could have driven a wedge between us, but in learning to work with each other’s personality styles and respecting our differences, we came through it all—closer than ever.



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