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Archive for December, 2015

30 Days to New Ways!

kids and colors

Over the course of the last 30 days, I have been part of a 30 day blogging challenge. We were committed to blog every day for 30 days. Now some of you may blog often and think it’s quite fun, but honestly, I hadn’t experienced the same! In fact, I had two blogs that had been started over a year ago, and maybe 5 blog posts between the two of them. I was absolutely overwhelmed and under inspired! The task of starting a blog felt so huge. I didn’t even know where to start. I felt that a certain basis had to be established before I could freely blog the daily topics that emerged. So, as is typical for my personality, I thought about it a lot, and then would usually opt to take a nap instead!

Then I heard about the 30 day blogging challenge. I’m not even sure how I heard about it, but I believe it was on Facebook. It intrigued me! Maybe, I was just delirious at the end of a long day?! I like doing things with others, so it appealed to me to not be taking on this task alone. And I like to do competitive things…I guess the word “challenge” engaged that sense in me!

As a busy and sometimes weary mother of seven, (who can hardly find time to visit the bathroom alone!) I couldn’t exactly tell you when I was going to find time to blog. And probably in the moment I signed up, I was admittedly, a little caught up in the fun aspect of what was going on. I’ve been known to fall for things that others are hurriedly getting roped into. So as I worked on my first blog, the night it opened, at nearly midnight…it hit! What have I done!?!?! What was I thinking?!?!? Well, I am proud to say that this is day 30! I wrote many more posts just before the midnight deadline, crafted a few in the early morning hours when I discovered I was much fresher and able to concentrate, and maybe even a few in the quiet moments I could find in the bathroom where I could be alone! I learned a lot. I learned that I CAN make time for things that matter. I CAN find things in my every day that can be shaped and used to help others. I CAN get things done and accomplished. I CAN become motivated and excited when things get done. And most importantly, I learned that my desires and interests don’t have to die! I CAN find time to do the things that make me feel alive, refreshed, and able to influence other’s lives. That’s a lot to learn in 30 days! So to Bradley Will, thank you for heading up this challenge and helping me realize I really CAN!!

Now, my challenge, after the challenge…figure out how to continue finding time to write, blog, parent, and experience life! And if they say that it takes 21 days to form a habit…I’m 30 days in to finding time for what feels meaningful in growing and helping others.

Sometimes, we sink so much of ourselves into the daily parenting tasks that we feel we may be losing ourselves! And let me tell you, a tired, spent, emotionally dead parent doesn’t parent well! Take some time today to evaluate where you might be. Sinking your heart into parenting is part of the job. Giving your all is admirable. Those things don’t have to change! But don’t forget the value in finding things that help you stretch, grow, and experience a healthy fulfillment. It fills within you, this well of energy and joy that allows you to give a better you to parenting!

How can you use your next 30 days to better yourself as a parent?

  • Finding something you can invest in each day for 30 days, that creates joy in you?
  • Finding one thing each day that you can be thankful for?
  • Trying a new approach for 30 days?
  • Taking 30 days to get a better and deeper understanding of your child’s personality?
  • Learning about yourself and your personality in the next 30 days?

Here’s to using your next 30 days for new ways!!

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Mud Slinging or Wallowing in a Mud Hole…

personality chart2

The Lighter Side of Personality Downfalls

This morning, as I was fixing my daughter’s hair, she started to get frustrated. I could see her emotions were about to erupt. (Yes, she is a combination of Powerful Choleric/Playful Sanguine!) Her brother who was nearby could feel the tension rising as well. Now to many personalities, we would back off, however, being a fellow Powerful Choleric, he thought this was an invitation to go in for the kill! Understanding both personalities, and being a Peaceful Phlegmatic, I decided to try and diffuse them both.

“Now wait a minute,” I said. “You both know that it can be a down fall of your personality to say unkind things before you think. So, take just a minute and stop yourself. OK!?”

“What! You’re saying my personality is a downfall!! How rude!!” My daughter’s emotions continued down the track, full speed ahead into the drama depot!

“No, that’s not what I said. What I said is that saying unkind things before you think can be your personality downfall. Every personality has a down fall. That just happens to be one you both share.” I explained.

“Wait a minute! I don’t do what she does. She makes a big scene, and I don’t!” My Powerful Choleric/Proper Melancholic child quickly defended. “So aren’t we different?”

“You have similarities and differences. You both tend to say things that might be unkind before you think. But she will shout them, and you will mumble them in hopes that we will hear. That my dear is the perfect example of how you are different!” That is the difference between the Powerful Choleric/Playful Sanguine and the Powerful Choleric/Proper Melancholic. I explained them to the kids with the use of the Monkeys from The You Zoo book, since that is easier for them to remember.

“So you and Jackson don’t have any personality downfalls?” My daughter was not putting down her drama card easy!

“Oh sure we do! Every personality has downfalls as well as many strengths! We would just THINK the unkind things in our head!” I quickly admitted.

“What! You think bad things about us in your head!!” My son seemed shocked.

“Yes, sometimes we do. But at least we don’t hurt your heart and make you hear them!” I justified.

“So is that better?” My son quizzed.

“Well, no, neither is kind. Not having unkind thoughts is probably the thing we should all shoot for!” I explained to the kids. Then we all just burst out laughing. Guess it’s like mud slinging or wallowing in a mud hole?! They are both dirty!

It was one of those teaching moments you couldn’t set up any better. You just take the opportunities as they arise. It really has amazed me over the years how well my kids understand the personality information. Even more surprising, how much they love learning about it!

“No Quits Without a Warning!”

 

Color prints

Four Keys to Helping Kids Navigate Their Differences

“No quits without a warning!” That was a phrase we adopted in our family when two of our kids were struggling to get along with each other. If either of them wanted to quit, they could. They just had to do it the right way. They could say they would do it for a certain amount of time, such as five more minutes or ten more minutes, or they could do it for a certain number of times, such as three more times or seven more times. In this way, they gave the other warning, time to prepare, and were not quitting out of anger or frustration. It was amazing how this simple phrase cut our conflict in half!

They both had a tendency to quit things but for different reasons. It just so happened that these were themes for their personality types. Our Peaceful Phlegmatic child would be pretty easy to get along with in general. Most of his siblings like playing with him, because he just adjusted to whatever they wanted. They would pick what to play, and he would follow. They would want a turn first, and he would give in. But not everything went easy with this Peaceful Phlegmatic! The down fall was that he would just up and quit and leave them feeling frustrated. Why would he quit? Because he was tired! He wanted to lie down and rest or sit on the couch and just watch.

Our other child, the Powerful Choleric also had a tendency to quit. He was usually the ring leader. He would think of the ideas and then organize the activity in a way that would make it work. He gave direction and kept things moving. But that too had its downside. When things didn’t go his way or if someone showed resistance to his plan, he too would up and quit. This left others frustrated when they were in the middle of things they didn’t get to finish. Why would he quit? Because he wanted to have control of things!

I remember finding these two playing together one day and the utter frustration and anger that was building between them.

“He keeps quitting!” the Powerful Choleric yelled.

“I am too tired to keep playing basketball. And that’s all you want to do.” the Peaceful Phlegmatic retorted.

“Wait a minute!” I interrupted. “How do we quit things?”

“Yeah, no quits without a warning,” my Powerful Choleric child demanded.

“Let’s remember how to quit and how to work together, ok.” Then I left the room to see if they could work it out.

I returned about 10 minutes later when things seemed pretty quiet. “Hey guys, what’s going on?” The Powerful Choleric was running around playing basketball, and the Peaceful Phlegmatic was draped across the recliner, resting.

“I’m playing a basketball game and I’m winning!” The Powerful Choleric seemed pleased.

“I’m his team mate, but I’m injured in the hospital!” The Peaceful Phlegmatic offered from his comfy chair.

“Well it looks like you found a great compromise, and you are both happy!” I laughed.

“Yes, I am going to be in the hospital for 10 more minutes and then we are done.” The Peaceful Phlegmatic was happy to see the end in sight.

Issues were common for these two kids. They were totally opposite personalities. We often looked for ways we could bridge the gap for these two. These personality tendencies would likely appear again and again. They needed some ways to understand each other.

    1. Give them the words. Often times, kids argue and fight when they don’t have the right words to help them express what they are feeling or what they need. Phrases such as, “Please don’t tell me what to do.” or “I would like to do it a little different.” Or “Would you please play for a few more minutes?” Or maybe your kids just need some simple reminder, to use with each other, much like our phrase, “No quits without a warning!”
    2. Help them learn compromise. Give them ideas when they are struggling with what compromise might look like. What variation can they make to their play that might allow both kids to get what they need? “Can I sit here and … (somehow still be a part of what’s happening but in a less active role)?” or “Can I pick what I want to do after this activity?” or “How about if we take turns deciding how we do things?” There are numerous ways to help them create and imagine and play with taking each other’s needs into consideration. It just doesn’t come naturally. They need direction.
    3. Role play for good practice. Because we operate naturally out of our personalities, it can be hard to think or respond in ways that other personalities need. So offer your child some rich experiences in learning how to do this. Role play those difficult situations and lead them through some great responses and problem solving.
    4. Talk about differences. Give your kids some ideas about what the personalities mean. Our kids as young as 3 and 4 have enjoyed reading The You Zoo book and beginning to get some ideas of what makes each person special.

 

 

Helping your children navigate the theme issues that occur between them will help them in every relationship they have. It will make a difference in how they handle conflict, communicate, and problem solve. Give them the tools that can help them in life!

Friendship–Fun and Folly

colorful kids

Watching our children make friends can be an interesting process. From the time they are young, we can see traits emerge in them that make those friendships form or last. Granted, many children go through the same stages of development and learning to play alongside and play interactively with other children, but there are other things that we can watch unfold that are more personality related.

So how do the four personality types look when it comes to friendships? Let’s take a look!

The Playful Sanguine child will make friends easily, and will have lots of friends. They approach strangers and talk easily. It is easy for them to join in with a group and gravitate toward those they want to make friends with. They are not alone long in a new situation, as they open up easily and find someone they can talk and share things with. They are not very selective and are able to have fun with just about anyone that’s willing.

The Powerful Choleric child will be a leader in a group. So there will be those who follow them and interact with them as they lead the way. Those who don’t mind being told what to do, and when, will get along well with this child. For those that like to be in charge, there may be a little battle for the role. Powerful Choleric children don’t feel the necessity to make friends or keep friends.

The Proper Melancholic child will make friends cautiously. They will be very selective about the people that they make friends with. They will favor those who follow the rules and do what is right. Loyalty is a trait they take seriously. They would rather have one or two very quality friends than lots of superficial friends. It will take this child a great deal of trust to open up and share even with their friend.

The Peaceful Phlegmatic child will make friends easily. Encouraging others or trying to make others feel included usually wins a friend or two. It may be hard for them to initiate friendships or strike up conversation with strangers, but if the situation calls for that, they will usually come through. Their peace making trait will keep things calm and comfortable for everyone.

These are the characteristics of the personalities as they happen naturally. But knowing the personalities can also help us encourage our children in ways that might be more healthy and cause them to grow. So how can we help our child stretch and grow?

Playful Sanguine:

  • Teach them to be careful of strangers to not get in a bad situation
  • Help them learn the importance of being selective

Powerful Choleric:

  • Teach them to be considerate of others and not be bossy
  • Help them learn that others can be easily hurt by strong emotion or careless words

Proper Melancholic:

  • Teach them to be willing to take a risk with making friends
  • Help them learn that sharing things about themselves will help others connect with them

Peaceful Phlegmatic:

  • Teach them that sometimes they have to be willing to initiate and not just be a follower
  • Help them learn that it is not their job to work out all the problems other friends have

 

It can be fun to watch their natural tendencies emerge. And watching them grow and learn about what makes a friendship better can have both joys and challenges. When we take time to help them grow and learn about these traits, we can help them find good friends, enjoy good friends, and be good friends. And that is a trait that can benefit them for life!

It’s Not Quite Right and Other Variations of It’s Not Good Enough…

speed bumps

This can be a common theme for Proper Melancholics. While it is a theme that presents in both adults and children, we will focus more on the parent in this post.

The Proper Melancholic is detail oriented and task focused. They care about what needs to be addressed or accomplished and can easily analyze the details along the way. They work diligently to get things done right and will do things again and again if it means getting it done perfectly. Unfortunately, their perfectionistic tendency can cause them to get stuck or slowed down while trying to accomplish things. They may be easily discouraged or frustrated when the details are not working out and when others don’t live up to their expectations. Their self-talk might include the following:

“I can’t do it right.”

“That’s not good enough.”

“No one else is helping.”

“They just don’t do it right.”

“Why can’t others care more about the details?”

“Am I the only one who cares about doing it right?”

“Well, last time…and the time before…”

“That’s not what I had planned.”

“Maybe if I tried one more time…”

These are just a few of the things that might run through the self-talk of a Proper Melancholic. They can easily be distracted from moving forward by trying to get things just right, or perfect. They can also get a little stuck on idealism, getting caught up in how things have been done before, or analyzing things. The details and frustration from getting things perfect can keep them from getting things finished. This self-talk can cause some problems both in relationships and life in general. What might it look like in parenting?

  • Nit-picks child to get things perfect.
  • Frustrated when child-like ways leave things a mess.
  • Discouraged when other’s performance falls short.
  • Affected emotionally and moody when things don’t fall into place as they planned.
  • Stuck and rigid in doing things according to plan and details.
  • Constantly corrects and fixes what child does.
  • Easily forgets about the relationship as they busy with the details and task.
  • Appears constantly mad about things and leaves child feeling discouraged.
  • Forgets that a lighter and more optimistic approach works better for kids.

How can a Proper Melancholic address the self-talk that drags them into the doldrums and causes them to be less effective as a parent?

  • Look for what is going right. Kids especially need to work from a perspective of optimism and hope. Let them know that everything is okay. Notice them and catch them doing well!
  • Realize that perfection, idealistic, and planned don’t always pan out with kids. One thing you realize soon after becoming a parent is that many things happen that you never planned on. Things turn out totally different than you imagined and hoped, and that is to be expected. Don’t let it ruin you.
  • Learn to settle for less than best. Your level of “right” might be totally different than your child’s, and totally unrealistic. Be willing to settle for their best, even if it looks nothing like you hoped or imagined.
  • Accept mistakes as part of life. Kids will make many mistakes. They will embarrass you, frustrate you, and maybe make you feel like you are failing. But you aren’t. Don’t let your moods ride on how well they perform. Find your joy, patience, and contentment aside from what they do.

Self-talk can be discouraging, and self-reflection can be intimidating. But it is important to realize the power of both. Maybe this post doesn’t strike a chord with your personality, then maybe one of the other three in the series will. Hopefully through the course of the last few posts, you have been able to identify some of the potential hang-ups for your personality and being an effective parent. The tips provided might help you move forward in life, iron out some relationship issues, and make yourself more effective as you parent your child.

You can learn more about the personalities in The You Zoo book. Visit TheYouZoo.com for information on how you can get a copy for your own personal use! Feel free to email questions to Jami@JamiKirkbride.com.

Birthday Party Fun… A Great Glimpse of Children’s Personalities

Grayson's 4thToday we had our four year olds birthday party. So I couldn’t help but take a little pause in finishing up the self-talk series and spend just a few minutes reflecting on birthday fun!

One can imagine over the years, with seven kids and our oldest being 19, that we have seen our fair share of birthday parties! And you might also imagine that no two have been alike! I must admit that planning fun themed birthday parties are one of my favorite things! Yes, it appeals to my Playful Sanguine side!! But I always find watching my kids at their parties can be even more interesting than you might imagine. Why? Because these settings provide some of the most unique moments to see kids’ personalities in their raw form.

Birthday party games bring out those who love to try new and exciting things as well as those who would rather watch, since they aren’t sure they will be the best. These games bring out those who follow the rules to the T, and those who like to make the rules or at least really bend them! They reveal those who encourage others and those who boast of their own success. And it is interesting to watch, because it all happens so naturally and quickly. No one is really thinking about it!

Then you get to opening the gifts. There are those who are very careful and methodical, and there are those who rip it open and barely stop to see what the gift might be. You get those kids who are territorial of their gifts and toys and those who are oblivious to those who are opening gifts for them.

But I have to admit one of my favorite moments of any birthday party is the moment you are singing Happy Birthday to them. All eyes are on them, and in that moment they will want to shine, rule, hide, or hang on! Today we had one such moment that actually encapsulated two of our kids’ personalities. As we were singing to our little Grayson, he had a plastered cute grin on his face. And the whole time people were singing, he was looking intently into my eyes to remain ok with this moment. His smile never changed and his eyes never shifted. In fact, they were so steadily focused on me that he missed that his 5 year old brother standing next to him leaned over and slyly blew the candles out before he could. He wasn’t real happy about it, but the idea that we just relight them and blow them again suited him just fine! Surprised that our 5 year old blew them out…nope! Surprised that our 4 year old didn’t notice and then adjusted…nope!

What a unique and fun way to see your kids as unique individuals. I count my blessing many times over for the special way God created each of them.

What observations have you made at your child’s birthday party? I bet you will keep your eyes open at the next party so you can see the personalities play out right before your eyes.

*Tomorrow I will finish the last of the series on self-talk with the Proper Melancholic’s perspective.

 

 

I Will Do It Myself!! (That and 52 Other Things!)

speed bumps

This can be a common theme for Powerful Cholerics. While it is a theme that presents in both adults and children, we will focus more on the parent in this post.

The Powerful Choleric feels very capable and able to do almost anything they encounter. They are often heard making the bold declaration, “I will do it myself!” It could also be a mutter under their breath as they become exasperated that someone in their presence isn’t just getting it done. They are not easily discouraged and spend little time on thinking things over and most of their time just diving in and doing things. Their self-talk differs greatly from the other two personalities that we’ve covered, largely because they are task focused. Their self-talk might sound more like the following:

“Of course I can do it.”

“Everything will be okay as long as I am there.”

“I can do that real quick before I…”

“I’d rather do that alone than have their help.”

“My idea will work best.”

“I can do that better.”

“I’ll just hurry up and…”

A Powerful Choleric would read the above list and feel proud. After all, it sounds very productive and useful. But this self-talk can present some problems for the Powerful Choleric in everyday life, relationships, and parenting.

How might these play out in a Powerful Choleric parent? You might see the following:

  • Frustrated easily when child does not operate at their speed and slows them down.
  • Angered when they can’t manage the stress they’ve created by being over committed.
  • Upset when they are hurrying everywhere because they haven’t managed time and tasks well.
  • Harsh mannered with kids and discipline as it slows them down and feels futile.
  • Speaks loudly and can easily belittle others out of frustration.
  • Exercises little patience in dealing with imagination or child-centered play.
  • Tends to just take over a task, rather than teaching a child how to do it for themselves.
  • Committed to so many other tasks that they are spread thin and don’t give child quality time.
  • Prone to spills and breaking things as they attempt to move to quickly and force things to happen.

How can a Powerful Choleric address the self-talk that propels them into a tornado of activity and causes them to be less effective as a parent?

  • Slow down and be realistic. There are only so many hours in a day and so many minutes in an hour. Try to be more realistic about what you can or should do in the time you have.
  • Don’t do it all!
  • Realize that relationships have value. You easily see the tasks and all that need to be done. But don’t miss out on the people along the way. While multi-tasking can be a great skill, there are some things, like kids, that just need your undivided attention.
  • Stay in the game. Often times, when things are out of the Powerful Cholerics control, they just take their ball and play elsewhere. You can’t afford to do that with parenting. You will discipline the same issues repeatedly. You will not have control over everything your child does. But your role as parent and disciplinarian must remain strong.

 

 

It can be hard to look at yourself and see things that might not be desirable. Gaining personal insight helps you become more effective as a parent though. What might be your faulty thinking? If the above does not fit, you may find one of the other personality posts in the last couple days more appropriate. Listen to your self-talk today. What do you tell yourself? How does that help you/hurt you as a parent?

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