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Helping families make the most of personality differences.

22 Results tagged "Teenagers"

Learning at Home
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TAGS: Communication, Differences, Encouragement, Homework, Learning, Relationships, Self-awareness, Teenagers

Pandemic - Online Learning Gone Viral

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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When I first heard that our spring break was being extended due to the Covid-19 Coronavirus pandemic, I suspected school would likely be out longer. With the potential of online learning for the upcoming weeks, possibly the remainder of the school year, and as an educator and parent with a personality preference for Judging (scheduled, structured, and planned), I sprang to action.

My initial plan was to have my two school-aged high school kids join me at the kitchen table from 10-12 pm and 2-4 pm, Monday through Friday. This would be structured online learning time and I would be available to assist as needed, since, I too, would be working from home. As much as I loved my plan, it did not even last through the first morning. What works for one child may not work for another. My daughter loved the plan, my son did not.

Online learning is not for everyone. How do we help our children who struggle under this type of learning platform? Children who prefer Extraversion learn best through interaction with others. They like to work ideas out by talking them through and they thrive in environments which are social. When under extreme stress, they often turn inward with a risk of becoming depressed. It is vital during this time of isolation to provide opportunities for connecting and socializing.

For example, I have a daughter who prefers Extraversion who struggled those first few days with her online courses. She likes the classroom environment and interaction between the teacher, students, and friends, of course. To help her, I suggested online video lessons so that she can see and hear the lesson, rather than only read about it.

Another helpful solution, I have found, is letting her explain the lesson to me. Even if I do not understand the material (she is taking five AP classes!), just giving her the opportunity to talk it out makes a difference. Being in the same room with her is also beneficial. Knowing someone is nearby supports her need for connection.

I also encourage her to do schoolwork in segments. In other words, study for an hour or two, then take a break and call or Facetime a friend, study some more, then watch a favorite show, or go for a walk with a family member. If she can break up her day between homework and social time, or doing something she enjoys, she is a happier kid. A group of her friends even logged into Zoom and watched a movie together the other night. This interaction is necessary for her well-being. Check in with your children who prefer Extraversion often, social isolation can lead to anxiety and depression.

On the other hand, my son, who prefers Introversion, thrives in a virtual environment. For him, the ability to focus with no interruptions enables him to complete classwork efficiently. He learns best through reading and writing, especially when given time to reflect. Interacting with me and his sister at the kitchen table everyday felt more like torture to him. Lasting barely 20 minutes, he kindly requested to work alone in his room.

For children who prefer Introversion, having space away from other family members and a quiet environment is conducive to better learning. Rather than work in segments, my son prefers to get everything done at once. My recommendation for multiple breaks just annoyed him.

Under extreme stress, children who prefer Introversion can often lash out and become overly emotional or critical. Even though social distancing falls into their comfort zone, having family members in their space all the time can lead to frustration and potential outbursts. Provide private space, but balance is important, too. With the fear and worry around this pandemic, it is crucial to check in with introverted types, as over-isolation can lead to over-reflection, and potential anxiety and depression.

This is a trying time for us all. Our children have been thrown into a new way of learning. They are isolated from their friends and all their special events, sporting games, graduations, and proms are cancelled, not to mention the uncertainty of our health and economic well-being.

These are uncharted waters for most of us so understanding and supporting our differences is invaluable. Many parents are now working from home, and honoring your preference for private time (Introversion) or connection (Extraversion) within your work environment is essential to your well-being, too. Respect each other's various styles of learning and working at home. Take care of each other and stay healthy!



Daydreaming the Future
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TAGS: Communication, Intuition, Parenting, Sensing, Teenagers

The “What If?” Game: Daydreaming the Future

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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Do you ever play the "What if?" game? I am not sure if it is a real game, but it is one I have played way too often! As hard as I try to live in the here and now, to focus on what is in front of me in that moment, within seconds I find my mind wandering to what might be just around the corner, which leads me to what might happen next week, or next year, or 10 years from now.

Honestly, I can easily drive myself insane. The ideas seem to pop up all over the place making connections and creating patterns, some of which feel visionary, while others feel just plain crazy.

My preference for intuition supports this style of generating ideas and absorbing information. I use intuition in my inner world where unconscious ideas flow into consciousness. Information is received with flashes of insight and can appear as if it came from out-of-the blue.


Imagining and long-term visioning are natural and comfortable when intuition is used in this way. As you can see, the "What if?" game is ideal for those with this preference. Three of my children use intuition in the same way. When we get together you can feel the energy rise in the room where it almost feels electric. What is unknown is exciting for us!

Although this is a good fit for us, not all paths lead to goodness, and sometimes our fantasies can take us down scary, dark paths. We can feed off each other. As much as we enjoy exploring endless opportunities, we tend to forget those who do not. Based on experience, my other two children who prefer sensing in their inner world tend to panic when we dive into this game, fearing what lies ahead unless they can connect it to something they have already done.

Taking in information through sensing in the inner world calls for a more methodical process as they funnel everything through their past experiences. While I thrive off what's unknown, people who prefer sensing can find this stressful and experience severe anxiety.

As an example, my husband has a career that often brings in offers from other companies with potential positions in other parts of the country, or even the world. They do not all pan out, of course, but out of the many opportunities, some have, which means we have moved a couple of times.

First, they reach out to him with a position; then comes the offer letter, if he is interested. The time between these two moments, which can sometimes take months, creates the perfect "What if?" environment! In order to consider a family move, I need to look far down the road and imagine all the potentialities. Logically I realize that until we have the details, this might just be a waste of my time and a big stressor to those family members who prefer to wait and  get all the facts before making the decision - or at least enough facts to get started on a realistic path.

For me the comfort lies in considering all the possible directions, even imaginary ones, that a new move could take us. As the kids get older, which presents its own set of problems (as you can imagine), they deal with these situations in their own way.

My "What if?" kids play the game with me, while my "details and facts" kids do not want to talk about it at all. Awareness and sensitivity are considerations I have had to learn over the years, reminding myself that not everyone wants to play the game. Over time I have learned that it is okay to share excitement in all possibilities, but slowing the pace and acknowledging the past is crucial for everyone to feel included in the game.



PeopleStripes.org article
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TAGS: Choices, Communication, Compromise, Decision Making, Differences, Self-Management, Teenagers

Motivation Matters: Give a Moose a Muffin

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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Summer is over and as we head into fall and a busy school season, balancing schedules can be a challenge. While trying to adjust schedules, keep in mind personality differences. What might be thrilling for some of your kids may be terrifying for others and exhausting for you, especially if they don't drive yet.

Motivation matters. It is the core of our personality that motivates us, and this shines through in several different ways depending upon our personality type.

Our 16-year-old daughter (ENFJ) has always been eager to spend time with friends and engage in many activities. With four other children, it wasn't always possible to meet her needs, and although we could tell she would get disappointed, she rarely complained because maintaining harmony and avoiding conflict is key to who she is as a person.

Driving now, with her own car, her new-found freedom and desire to please everyone has ramped up her social life. This is where "give a moose a muffin" comes into play. We are originally from Canada and one of our favorite children's books goes by this title. Essentially, the premise is that if you let the moose do one thing, it will ask to do another, and another, and another... continuing in this way.

You might have guessed what our daughter's nickname is, yes, it's Moose! "Mom can I pick up my friend and go for ice cream?" "Mom, can we now go to her place to hang out and do homework?" "Mom, is it okay if we see a movie?" On and on and on... it never seems to end.

For her, motivation is about being with people, encouraging and supporting them, and making them happy, at times at the expense of her own needs. We quickly discovered that limits need to be placed, and she thanks us for setting them. I think even for her, knowing when to stop is challenging. We got back from a trip to Canada recently and within a minute, "Moose" was out the door. Enthusiastic and social, she brightens the life of those around her. Limits help her to keep on shining.

Speaking of motivation, here is another example. Our 18-year-old daughter (INTJ) is motivated by ideas, complex inner pictures of the present and the future, all supported by logic to help organize her external world. For her, it is about coming up with an idea, then implementing it.

When motivated she makes things happen. This past summer, while looking into possible jobs, we suggested working in a restaurant or fast food place because they often hire students over the summer. She wanted nothing to do with it. Teaching and working with special needs children is her dream job, and this fall as a college freshman she hopes to fulfill this dream.

In her mind, it only made sense that she should care for a child with special needs over the summer. To her credit, she did it! All on her own! Reaching out to a teacher she worked with during her senior year internship in a special needs class, she secured a job helping a family over the summer. She also volunteered for summer camps with special needs children. To top it off, these summer positions have led her into part-time work this fall as she begins her studies in this area.

When she wants to make something happen, she can, regardless of what we might have to say. Her motivation led her to a summer job she truly enjoyed, and now part-time employment while in college. Let me just say, if what we want her to do does not appeal to her vision, and if we can't back it with logic, no matter how hard we try, we can't make her do anything!

When motivated, we can do anything! What motivates us is often linked to our personality type.




Preparing for the 21st Century
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TAGS: Careers, Communication, Self-Management, Teenagers

Preparing for the 21st Century

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 families are first introduced to type the excitement is mainly about knowing the child's preferences and how to use that knowledge to make family life better and the child more successful in life.  It is all about the child recognizing the specialty of their personality type and helping them develop that to its fullest potential.

In his new book, Range (published May 2019), author David Epstein asserts it will be the generalist who is better prepared for the world than the specialist.  The book description states it is "the ground-breaking and exhilarating exploration into how to succeed in the 21st Century."  How do we reconcile wanting our children to become the best they can be at their type (specialist) with the call for a generalist approach?  There is a way.

In his book Epstein discusses well-rounded success and posits that having diverse experiences is best for success.  You do more than just expose your children to options.  You discuss these and reflect on that experience.  He terms it self-regulatory learning.  You "expose broadly and reflect on that experience."  It sounds like a good rule to follow but how do I follow that and still respect my child's individuality?  Here is one option.

Knowing about type differences and validating the worth of those differences can be done through our daily language with children by verbalizing opposite choices.  "Some children like to get their work done first and then play.  Others like to play while they work.  Both are fine.  One way may work better for you.  The other works better for someone else.  The key is to know which is your best way and to get the job done.  Everyone has to get the job done." (An example of the Judging-Perceiving difference.)

Another example might be to say, "Some children like to lead by being the person on the stage or in front and others like to lead by being the ideas behind the scene that set the stage for the work to follow.  Both are valuable.  Find your way but know the other way may be better for someone else." (An Extraversion-Introversion difference.)

"Some work better with clear and precise directions while others work better with more open-ended kinds of tasks" (a Sensing-Intuition difference).  

"Some give direct and maybe critical feedback they believe will help the project succeed better while others solicit the input of others and focus on a collaborative approach to project generation" (a Thinking-Feeling difference).  

Adding the vocabulary of difference to your language with your children engenders a greater awareness of options that Epstein suggests will be necessary for success in the next century.

When do I go for diversity of experiences and when do I focus on my child's individual type?  My suggestion is this:  When life is calm encourage your children to try activities outside of their natural preferences "just for the experience."  After trying something once they can evaluate whether they want to repeat the experience of not.  When a child is stressed or tense because of events in his/her life use what you know about type to respond in the way that works best for that type.

An introverted child may not want to "talk" when they are upset but really appreciate a hug and your company.  An extraverted child might say many things they wish they could take back when upset, but just listen without judgment.  Focus only on the problem that is current.  Help them experience the breadth of options that Epstein proposes when they have their energy free for exploration but when their energy is limited because it is being drained by a life issue, deliver assistance in a way that matches their type.  That is not a time for stretching to new ways.

Epstein also suggested that the individual "reflect on their experiences."  Instead of just admiring what a child does, a type approach would suggest talking with them about what makes a project fun and what is required to complete the project - the work!   An excellent model for this technique is the Z-approach to decision making, where we look at the experience from a Sensing, Intuitive, Thinking and Feeling perspective.

Type does not operate in a vacuum.  The concepts can blend with other ideas offered for helping children be prepared for a future with challenges that will be unique for their generation.  It is the blend of type awareness (and use) with the other good ideas that will really prepare our children to succeed in the 21st century.



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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