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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!

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 for information on how you can get a copy for your own personal use! Feel free to email questions to

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?

OOOOPS!!! I Forgot!!!

speed bumps

This tends to be a common theme for the Playful Sanguine. While this theme occurs in both child and adult Sanguines, we are going to look at this theme in the adult or parent.

A Playful Sanguine is often uttering those words. While other personalities may be mortified at the thought of admitting that they forgot something, Playful Sanguines don’t really mind. They are so used to it, that it rolls quite easily from their tongue. The following are some other things that tend to be part of their self-talk process.

“I can always have others help me.”

“I can’t remember how I’m supposed to do it.”

“I seriously forgot!”

“I didn’t know I was supposed to do that.”

“I didn’t want to do it. It was boring.”

“It’s not fun.”

“I started it but never finished it.”

Playful Sanguines don’t have much trouble admitting their wrongs. They may laugh it off and act as thought it doesn’t really phase them or even matter. But these very themes can cause some problems in everyday relationships and even in parenting.

How might this play out in a Playful Sanguine Parent? You might see the following:

  • Caught up in moment and lose focus on what needs done.
  • Dismiss undesirable tasks as a parent because they aren’t fun.
  • Distracted easily and forgets to follow through.
  • Play and have fun but can too easily forget role as parent.
  • Provide poor example of appropriate behavior, if they can get a laugh.
  • Competes for center stage and may not take parental role seriously.
  • Swayed from effective discipline by child’s charm or tears.
  • Claims to forget or not understand to avoid responsibility.
  • Appears to be a softy or oblivious, without boundaries.

How can a Playful Sanguine address the self-talk that flutters through their head and causes them to be less effective in life or as a parent?

  • Stop and get some focus. Make yourself slow down, focus and really thing about what’s going on, instead of just going by the seat of your pants all the time.
  • Identify a couple ways you can become more responsible to the tasks at hand. Note not just the thing that needs to happen but the steps it may take to get it to happen.
  • Establish your role as parent and how you might need to take that role more seriously. It is good to have fun with your kids, but it is equally important that they feel your strength as a parent and that you can handle the job.
  • Take the initiative to know what needs done, see it through, and follow through with consequences if need be. No more claiming, “I didn’t know. I forgot. Or I wasn’t sure.”

This post focuses on the inner self-talk of the Playful Sanguine and the downfalls they may experience as a parent. These may not fit your personality. And that’s okay. You might be one of the other personalities. The next two days we will address the other personalities.

Why Do Today What I Can Put Off Until Tomorrow?

children talking

This tends to be a common self-talk theme for many Peaceful Phlegmatics! While both parent and child Phlegmatics may struggle with this, we will focus more on the parent aspect today.

I am faced with this challenging thinking every day. I admit it. It is true. I also experience some other thoughts along those lines, like:

“I am not sure I have the energy for that.”

“I am not sure I am capable to do that.”

“Somebody else could do it better.”

“I think I’d better take a nap.”

“I’m just too overwhelmed.”

“I’m not the right person for the job.”

“I better not commit to that. I am not sure I can see it through.”


While we may laugh those off, and in our laid back approach just honestly admit that’s how we think, those inner messages can really affect us in life and how we parent.

I am feeling this struggle as I participate in a 30 blogging challenge. Each day I have to talk myself through the excuses. And truly, I exhaust myself. Sometimes I just want that “get ‘er done” attitude! I expressed my frustration with myself yesterday in the face book group and received some wonderful encouragement from other writers. One kind man even broke down how many posts per minute left in the challenge and made it all sound more manageable. It was like hearing a little cheering squad going behind me. He even offered to follow up and read my blog the following day. There’s some healthy accountability with that encouragement! And that is what motivates a phlegmatic. They want to feel like others can respect their struggle and give them a little oomph with their energy to carry on!

How does this self-talk play out in parenting as a Phlegmatic? They may experience the following:

  • Dismiss things that need corrected because it is easier.
  • Struggle to have follow-through on consequences given.
  • Extend grace or patience when things need to be confronted.
  • Sit on the sidelines and wait for someone else to intervene or take over.
  • Become immobilized when things feel too overwhelming.
  • Doubt their ability to parent well.
  • Withdraw when they face resistance.
  • Offer excuses for behavior to avoid dealing with it.
  • Assume role as friend instead of disciplinarian to be liked by kids.


How does one reverse this kind of talk that rolls through your head and makes you less than effective?

  • Ask for another perspective. Much like I did when I asked the group to give some ideas for what they were doing to push through the challenge and avoid excuses.
  • Push yourself beyond what you are used to. Don’t stop where it’s comfortable or easy. Push beyond. Each time your push point gets moved further!
  • Commit to growing in the area you choose. Sometimes we feel the struggle, other times, we just know our tendencies. Regardless, you know where your weaknesses are. And while a little push can help you out of those crunch times, it may not be enough to really change a habit. Commit to really growing beyond what you do naturally.
  • Look for ways that you can be held accountable. Ask a friend, spouse, or someone else to ask you about your progress. Just like my kind writing friend offering to check in on my blog spurred me to push forward, you can find ways to be held accountable too.

This post may reflect the inner workings of the Phlegmatic and some of their faulty thinking, but every personality has faulty thinking. What is yours? What might keep you from doing what needs done? What might keep you from effective parenting?

  • Do you get easily distracted? Is the task not fun? Do you forget what you’re doing? Do you struggle to finish things you start?
  • Do you get over committed and spread thin? Do you run out of day before tasks? Do you find that you’d rather do it yourself instead of working together? Are you just not in the control of the task you are assigned?
  • Do you get stuck on perfectionism? Do you hesitate to start? Do you feel a fear or dread that keeps you from being productive? Are you too stuck on the details to get moving?

These are some of the other personality struggles. Maybe you can identify one of the above that speaks more to who you are. Challenge yourself today to ask the tough questions and see what you can learn about yourself. Then…push beyond where you are comfortable. Grow!

And as a side note, to the kind writer friend that gave me such a good pep talk…Thank you!! Thank you for giving me that added reason to write. Your encouraging words and accountability were just what I needed to get over the hump!

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