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Helping families make the most of personality differences.

18 Results tagged "Teenagers"

Failure might be an option
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TAGS: Guiding, Listening, Relationships, Problem Solving, Self-awareness, Teenagers

Failure is not an option - or is it?

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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In the movie Apollo 13, when the NASA team on earth was trying to determine a way to get the astronauts home, the team leader says to the group, "Failure is not an option." It sounds good in the movie but let's see how that plays out in real life. Here are some examples from Wanderlust Worker:

  1. Walt Disney was fired from the Kansas City Star because his editor felt Disney "lacked imagination and had no good ideas."
  2. Oprah was declared "unfit for television" by a TV producer.
  3. J.K. Rowling had 12 publishers reject the Harry Potter manuscript.
  4. According to reports, Colonel Sanders had 1009 people reject him when he pitched his chicken recipe to restaurants.
  5. Michael Jordan failed to make the varsity basketball team.

The list goes on. The website lists 48 overall successful people who failed.

Michael Jordan said, "I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed." He was still inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009.

Thomas Edison once told a reporter, "I have not failed 10,000 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 10,000 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work." Failure can be part of the path to success.


With all that said the moment of failure feels miserable. Emotions are all over the place and the brain is not thinking at its best. We each need to have a regrouping strategy to get us through the immediate impact of the failure.

Those with a Feeling preference need reassurance that the failure will not impede the relationship. When someone with a Feeling preference feels like a failure it tends to be accompanied with another thought. They worry that they let someone down. "Mom wanted me to get that scholarship." "I thought I could do this for you but I can't. Now you don't believe in me." The younger they are the more convinced they are that a revealed flaw means others in their life may reject them.

For some people with the Feeling preference this translates into an intense pressure to always do things right. You can help: hug them. Acknowledge the failure is there but the connection with them is solid. Offer to support them if they decide it is something they can try again. Take a moment and have fun interacting with them. Your presence matters at this moment.

Thinking - Feeling

Those with a Thinking preference see failure as a personal flaw that threatens their competence. Even when they know they are still competent they fear others will think less of their skills. They don't mind doing things over if the situation or the problem with the task improves each time but, when the end is there and the problem is not solved, frustration sets in for the Thinking child.

A hug is not the right tool at this time for this child. Reflective listening and honest assessment help more. Acknowledge that losing or failing at a task is frustrating because you thought you could do it. Remind them that although this is a failure, failure is temporary. It only lasts until a new solution is found or the task is mastered. Make this an interim moment when possible. Suggest that once they get their energy back you will problem-solve with them if they are still interested. Take a break to get that energy back by doing something else that is fun, by watching a video, or by taking a nap. Let the brain get some rest before tackling what seems like an impossible task.

Some children fear failure so much they develop into "failure avoiders." This is a learned coping strategy and can be unlearned. These children either try the most difficult task (no one is expected to be able to do it) or the easiest task (anyone can do it). Instead of following their interests they follow the path of greatest or least resistance. This solves the problem for the moment but does not teach the child how to deal with failure. Research supports that the only thing that motivates a failure-avoider is success.

One young man was failing math. His last test grade was 29. Success in his family was defined as having a test grade that was higher than the previous test score. He bought into that plan and improved each time but was still failing by school standards. It took almost the entire school year, but he brought his grade up to a C on his final test. This can be an ST approach if the strategy for improvement works. For an NF child you will need to monitor and praise each gain and celebrate the progress.

All children fail sometimes. Emotionally it is exhausting to fail for all types. We need to help our children recognize that failure is temporary. The way to help the Feeling child is not the same as the way to help a Thinking child. In a person's life story if you want to know if they were a success or failure it will depend on what chapter of their life you are reading.




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TAGS: Guiding, Listening, Relationships, Choices, Self-awareness, Self-Management, Teenagers

What do Game of Thrones and Type Have in Common?

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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In Season 2 Episode 7 of Game of Thrones, Tywin Lannister asks Arya Stark, "Do you know what legacy means?" When she shakes her head no, he answers, "It's what you pass down to your children and your children's children. It's what remains of you when you're gone."

In the show they seek to leave a throne for their families. We don't need thrones today, but we do need to establish our legacies and that idea made me want to define the legacy of type. To unlock the legacy of type we need to remember the gifts of type.

Take a look at Jung's definitions of what type can do:

  • Show how multiple differences can co-exist to complement each other in interactions and in achievements
  • Allow individual development and competence as the person ages and uses the preferences
  • Encourage a respect for divergence in a culture that still supports a common value system
  • Respect the free will of the individual; people choose their behavior
  • Allow each person to use their natural energies when that is best and stretch to use their balanced energies when those are needed
  • Give a system for better understanding of self and others
  • Provide a process for self-management based on an appreciation and respect for differences in others

To establish legacies in Game of Thrones there are multiple wars, multiple schemes, and multiple killings. To establish the legacy of type within your family is not quite so extreme.

Ways to inculcate type into the fabric of the family life include:
  1. Our habits. How we organize our day, how we communicate, and how we problem-solve all serve as a model for children to imitate. They may not understand the full theory but they clearly can understand "Mommy's way" or "Daddy's way." The more we can explain our habits and the basis for them the easier it will be for children to choose which is their best way.
  2. Our words. How we express our ideas, our respect, or our disagreement will all be reflected in our legacy with our children. Adults have been heard to say, "I sound just like my Mom sounded. When did that happen?" It's part of that legacy.
  3. Our hopes. When we can acknowledge our incompetent moments and the times we were not at our best and seek a better way when something similar occurs we keep alive the idea that people are always evolving and learning, and that is OK. As Maya Angelou said, "You did the best you could when that was all you knew but when you knew better you did better."
Instead of allowing our legacy to emerge incidentally we can help it develop deliberately. By teaching our children about type differences we give them a tool for better development.

In the end the legacy of type awareness seems to fall into 3 broad areas.
  1. All types will feel appreciated and respected.
  2. All types will have a chance to develop.
  3. All types will find their best way to succeed.


Sagrada Familia CathedralIn a series of emails called "Secrets of the Sagrada Familia," Albert Grimaldo cites a story about the great architect Antoni Gaudi. The cathedral he designed is complicated and admired by many but criticized by some. He writes that Gaudi "all but flunked Barcelona Architecture School, often failing exams and assignments, or just barely managing to scrape a pass."

Yet, despite that, his teachers recognized there was something special about Gaudi. Elies Rogent, the director of the school famously said, "We have given this academic title either to a fool or a genius. Time will show." His cathedral is his legacy.

When we struggle to find our excellence through typical channels, personality type can be a tool to help us find the path that matches our natural talents and strengths. Legacies are handed down from generation to generation. Legacies last. What legacy will you leave your family?



College Search Adventure
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TAGS: Decision Making, Guiding, Listening, College, Communication, parenting, Teenagers

The College Search Adventure

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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The college selection process can be a trying, anxiety making, argumentative experience, or a time for healthy introspection, self-learning and a step toward the passage to adulthood.

In my case, the college selection season was long. As a parent of four it lasted nearly eight years. The experience was a learning opportunity for me and my children as we moved to a new stage of family life.  Before it was complete, I was offering these students ideas on how to choose a college that fit their self-image in the moment and in the possible future.

My first lesson was discovering the number of ways a student could complete college. I went to a panel of post-high school students called "What Comes After High School." One student had gone into the service; another had a "gap year," volunteering while living at home; another went to a community technical college; one went the traditional route; and another was alternating a year at college with hiking sections of the Appalachian Trail.

That panel was helpful because it changed my parental expectations of the college experience, and encouraged a broad look of what that might be like. But the panel didn't get into the nuts and bolts of the actual process of the college search and associated decision making.


To me and my friends, the senior year college search seemed like a massive capstone project, with each student approaching it more or less the same way they took on projects from third grade on. When we talked it was often about the process itself, how it could be distracting and disruptive because it went on so long, how there were so many ways to do it and how ownership was murky. Plus, it seemed, beneath the paperwork and timelines, something was lost. The examination of and attention to what mattered to others outweighed what mattered to students. Other than the essay and a high school resume there was little to suggest a high school junior or senior would benefit from devoting some time to gaining self-knowledge.

By the time I had my stories about the college search experience to tell other parents, I was wondering how to make it an opportunity for students to learn about themselves and their decision-making habits. I offered services to family and friends ("Thank goodness," a friend said. "I don't have to watch or ask, and I still know things are getting done.")

With a hands-off but supportive attitude, I offered opportunities to look at issues not typically considered by juniors and seniors on the "find a college mission." With me they devoted time to learning about their personality and mindset, and how these factors influence their decision-making process.

They investigated the overlap of academic values and learning styles. They looked at their skills, their strengths and weaknesses, and what they liked and disliked. They used the Z decision making model and they went off to campus visits with purposeful questions. When it came time to wondering if a college "matched" there was more to consider than just GPA, test scores, and extracurricular activities.

Over the years, I learned that personality type is not the only factor to consider when selecting a college. In fact, I would caution against operating as if a certain personality will do better in college X than college Y. I believe the more we know about ourselves and our decision-making process, the better our decisions will be, and we should explore all avenues of self-knowledge.

When I heard about the most recent college admission scandals, I was a bit surprised but not shocked. Some elements of the process have become so over emphasized. The student's personal experience is losing its centrality.

The college quest is a unique time and opportunity for students and parents.  It is a threshold of newness in the family as someone steps into adulthood. There are ways for students and parents to honor this passage without letting it become more than what it is: an opportunity to dive into the world and find our place in it.




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TAGS: Guiding, Boundaries, Choices, Communication, Mothering Styles, parenting, Problem Solving, Teenagers

Helicopters and Snowplows

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 recent article referenced a new style of parenting called "Snowplow Parenting." 

We know that Helicopter parents hover near their children to be part of every moment of the child's life.  They are there "just in case" the child needs them.  Snowplow parents predict which obstacles will be in their child's way and remove them so the child is able to proceed successfully - at least that is the hope.  

Every parent adopts a style they believe is in the best interests of their child.  Parents everywhere want their children to be happy, successful, and confident.  As far as I can tell Snowplow parenting does everything to undermine confidence.  Handling their own problems reinforces confidence in the child's own abilities.  Instead of teaching the child how to manage their life needs, the snowplow style of parenting sends the message that the child is not capable and needs the parent to prepare the way for them.

When a child has no opportunity to manage their world, they become less competent to manage life on their own.  A strong ego expressed as confidence comes from surviving faults and solving problems. 

What constitutes a problem can be very different for the various personality types, and each type has a certain set of skills to learn in order to be successful in life.  Everyone is born with strengths and everyone is born with stretches.  These are not the same for all the personality types.  So, what works for one child in the family may not work equally well with another child in that family.

  • Sensing types enjoy gathering information. That part is easy. Their challenge is to pull the information together into patterns and innovative ideas.
  • Intuitive types enjoy generating innovative and unique projects or contributions.  Their stretch is completing all the parts. They need more assistance during the work or implementation phase rather than during the design phase.
  • Feeling types start life trusting with a naïve innocence that makes them vulnerable to be fooled by false relationships. Their stretch is to learn to discern and be alert to the disingenuous.
  • Thinking types enter life independent. Initiating on their own is a strength. Yet they want to be competent at everything and struggle with accepting and enduring the frustration of failure.

A Snowplow parent removes all the obstacles.  If that happens, the Thinking child will not learn to cope with incompetent moments, the Feeling child will not learn the signs that a person is not to be trusted, the Intuitive child will not learn to pace their energy to keep working when things become boring, and the Sensing child will not learn how to organize all that they know so they can use the knowledge in new and productive ways.  The child develops from doing the work.  Being directed on what to do is not the same as solving the problem and coping with the consequences.

Resilience is a characteristic most parents want to see in their children.  This skill builds over time and is more securely established when experiencing many little blocks of problem solving rather than when the first real challenge happens at age 20.  

So, parents, when you are tempted to solve a problem for your young child (e.g. work the system to be sure your child is "on the team" or "in the play") you may be working against your goal: a competent individual.  Celebrate their achievements but also celebrate their handling of the bumps along the way.  These may have a larger impact on the child's character development and resiliency than any of the successes.


Guide your child rather than direct your child.  Give options and examples but allow the child to make the decision.  Teach them how to cope with the consequences if their choice does not work as expected.  The developmental goal is to teach children HOW to decide by looking at the issue from multiple perspectives, using Sensing, Intuition, Thinking, and Feeling rather than telling them WHAT to decide. (See the article on using the Z-model of decision-making.)

As the parent, when your child fails or has a problem (and they all will) you may need to decide what you will do to hold back and allow their learning process to occur.  

The hardest part of parenting is watching our child be in pain, but a very joyful part of parenting is watching them handle their pain and handle the problem.  We must give them the freedom to try.  Use the snowplows for snow.





The View From Here
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TAGS: Decision Making, Listening, Relationships, Siblings, Choices, Communication, Self-awareness, Teenagers

The View from Here

Emma Brandt
EMMA BRANDT is a senior in high school. She plans to attend a university, majoring in Psychology and Spanish. Emma began learning about personality type early in her high school career, and she engages daily in extensive conversations with her mom about people's personality types.
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My younger sister, Melanie, is almost the complete opposite of me. She can be very stubborn and often says things that seem harsh to others. For example, she tells me immediately if she doesn't like something I am wearing or doesn't agree with something I said:

"That's a really bad color on you."
"No, Louisville is NOT the capital of Kentucky; it's Frankfort. How could you not know that!?"
"Don't put your arm around me, people are watching
."
In other words, Melanie is painfully blunt and makes little to no effort to deliver her perspective nicely. Although we have always been close, her communication style used to make it difficult for me to connect with her. I never doubted her loyalty to me, but I would sometimes wonder if she actually liked me.

This all changed three years ago when my family moved from Illinois to Maryland. Shortly after we moved, my mom went through Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) certification training to grow her business. The MBTI assessment is based on a personality theory that defines 16 different patterns people show in the way they interact with the world, process information, and make decisions. These patterns are based on four personality preference pairs: Extraversion vs. Introversion, Sensing vs. Intuition, Thinking vs. Feeling, and Judging vs. Perceiving.

My mom loves to process information out loud, so she constantly wanted to talk about what she was learning. I was typically the one in our family most interested in what she was explaining, so I asked questions to make sure I understood. She eventually taught me about personality type dynamics and how we all have a dominant personality type preference that is either extraverted or introverted.

Since we both processed the information differently, we were actually able to understand and apply these theories at a much deeper level by learning from each other. I realized how true it is that teaching someone else is the best way to learn.

Finding words to describe everything I already intuitively knew about myself felt incredibly freeing. I discovered that my preferences are ISFP: Introversion, Sensing, Feeling, and Perceiving. My dominant preference is called "Introverted Feeling," which simply means I tend to have a strong sense of who I am and how I feel.

I tend to be detail-oriented and thoughtful. Becoming more aware of these strengths as well as my blind spots has made me a better person. I am less judgmental. In the past I would get frustrated with myself for over-analyzing decisions or being sensitive and not being more outgoing. Now I appreciate these parts of myself and see how they are beneficial. I also see how other people's personalities and perspectives add value to the world, and I am not as easily offended or annoyed.

My new perspective has profoundly improved my relationship with my sister and helped me see her comments the way she sees them, as simply logical rather than mean. A person with her personality type preferences, ESTJ (Extraversion, Sensing, Thinking, and Judging), sees the world objectively and tends to be less aware of how others may perceive their comments.

Understanding personality types has also deepened my relationships with others: my parents, my friends, my peers, and even people I don't know. I now view the world from a different perspective, and I am thankful to say, the view is richer and far more beautiful from here.




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