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

Helping families make the most of personality differences.

15 Results tagged "parenting"

PeopleStripes.org article
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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.




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.




PeopleStripes.org article
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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.





Introversion-Extraversion
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TAGS: Guiding, Listening, Relationships, Communication, Differences, Parenting, Self-Management, Teenagers

Two Worlds: Extraversion and Introversion

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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My mother didn't know about Carl Jung, Myers and Briggs, the MBTI® assessment, or personality type, but she sure knew about people differences and extraversion and introversion. She seemed aware that sometimes I lived by what went on in the outer world of people and what I heard from others, while at other times I lived by the inner world of impressions and thoughts.

She had a message: sometimes answers and ideas are found with help from the outer world and sometimes they are found within. I got this message through her words.

When I pleaded: "But Mom, everybody is..." She replied, "If everybody jumped off a bridge would you jump off a bridge?" At other times, she'd say "Have you found out what YOU think?"

Thoughts on this came to me at the gym last week where, near the entrance lounge, where a small group of tweens clustered around one girl who held a cell phone. Hushed voices spoke:

"Do you want them to know?"
"You should say..."
"Yeah, but first say..."

With so many external voices flying around, I wondered if her inner voice was audible or was being drowned out. It would have been ideal if she really knew whether she even wanted to send a text, or what she wanted to say, when and in what words. Would she take time to reflect before she responded? Did she know she could stop and think on it before hitting send?

I find it troubling that the words "extraversion"and "introversion" (and active access to both) are often misapplied or misunderstood as mutually exclusive descriptions of sociability. When applied to people as a static label they seem much less helpful than my mother's approach.

When interacting with children (and adults) I try to keep both the extraversion and introversion preferences alive as common aspects we all share. Jung cautioned about one sidedness. He believed there are no pure and simple introverts and extraverts. It's more complicated than that. In my mind, it's more helpful to support the differentiation and use of both than it is to categorize social behavior. For example, when our hurried family lives are lived "on the fly," those brief (and precious) discussions with kids could be enriched by carving out some time for reflection.

I try to rely on the "communication cycle" which includes both reflection and expression. Some of us tend to move from reflection to expression while others tend to express first and then reflect on what's been said. Very often, after thoughts are verbalized and discussed, additional outlooks appear from reflection or chatting with others. It's helpful to have a follow-up discussion to add, modify, or clarify. Reviewing and summarizing decisions with your children can help ensure everyone truly understands the issue.

What are other ways to honor both extraversion and introversion? Rather than saying, "Pay attention." I could ask: "Are you paying attention to what's inside your head or outside your head?"

"What does that person say?" becomes a two-part question. "What do your friends say and what do you say to yourself?" Or "How often are you talking to and listening to others about the issue and how often are you talking and listening to yourself about the issue?" These sorts of prompts promote the awareness and use of turning both inward and outward.

The way I explain it may not be the way my mother would have, and the words may not be the same, but hopefully I'm passing on the intent of the message she gave me. You are under the influence of two worlds. I hope you become familiar with how and when they influence you. I hope you have experiences which allow you to know when to use each as the most relevant and helpful resource for information, inspiration, and energy.


PeopleStripes.org article
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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.
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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.




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