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“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!

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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.

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.

Oh the Dramatic Eruptions!!!

 

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Question:  I have a child that is somewhere along the top of the chart, but I can’t decide which one (Playful Sanguine and Powerful Choleric). I only know that their emotions are more than I can handle! What do I do?

Hang on!! That’s my first advice! But truly, this is a real concern of many parents that speak to me after a presentation. They feel overwhelmed with the emotion that this child expels and feel inadequate at knowing how to handle it. I can’t help but share my own personal joke.

Can you imagine for a minute what three extroverts, a 10 year old girl, 5 year old boy, and 43 year old dad have in common with a volcano? Easy, they all erupt!

Personalities along the top of the personality quadrant chart (Playful Sanguine and Powerful Choleric) are extroverts. So everything they think, feel, and want is pretty much out there for all to see. They are in touch with their emotions, express them easily, and don’t hold back. This makes total sense to those who are also extrovert, but what might be hard for them to imagine is that not everyone is like that. Those on the bottom of the chart (Proper Melancholic and Peaceful Phlegmatic) are introverts and tend to hold things in. They tend to evaluate their thoughts and feelings, modify them, and decide what if any is appropriate to share.

The Playful Sanguine is prone to drama. They feel things very deeply. Their emotions can go from 0 to 60 in two seconds flat. They may be very upset, and with just a small change will be extremely happy again. Those emotional highs and lows can be hard for a family to experience.

The Powerful Choleric is prone to anger. They are more in touch with that emotion than any other. They can go from super angry to moving on rather quickly. They let off some steam and decide they feel better. The problem is that those around them may still be recovering from the hit and run effect.

What can you do if you see your child exhibiting the drama that exhausts your family?

  1. Don’t give up on the training. You may feel like you say the same thing over and over, but don’t give up. It is a message they need to hear.
  2. Give them a good example. Kids learn by example. Often times there is a parent in the home that is exhibiting the same lack of control in emotions. Work hard as parents to be a positive example.
  3. Practice makes perfect. Okay, so maybe perfect is a little too high of expectation, but don’t underestimate the power in practicing. Role play situations before they happen. Rehearse how things might be felt and expressed in ways that people can understand and will want to listen.
  4. Do-over or discipline. Give your child a chance to correct what needs to be corrected when they speak or act too quickly out of emotion, or what I refer to as a do-over. Correcting on their own gives them the practice in self control. If you have to intervene or coax them into re-doing the wrong, discipline may be appropriate.
  5. Work to understand their emotional needs. Often, the drama rises when the emotional needs of these kids are not being addressed. So go back to the basics and look at their emotional needs.

Remember that these top two personalities need to be noticed and given credit. They also want some excitement and control. If you can keep a pulse on how those needs are being met, you might be one step closer to diffusing the eruptions of emotion that are tiring your family.

A Light-Hearted Look at Parent Personalities–You Might Be a Sanguine Parent If…

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You may have figured out what your child is, and now you are left wondering… “What am I?”

Here’s a light-hearted look at what a Sanguine Parent might look like. Hang on, it can be quite a ride!

  • You already have your next fun outfit planned, and aren’t sure where you will wear it.
  • You find yourself continually buying party invites in anticipation for a future party.
  • You end your day still chasing the same idea that you started your day with, but either forgot or got distracted by 52 other things in between!
  • You constantly lose your purse, your keys, your car…what was that other thing you lost?
  • You think a to-do list is a better doodle pad than anything else.
  • You have no problem asking a complete stranger to help you find where you parked your car.
  • You can turn any task into something fun as long as you don’t have to do it alone.
  • You have inadvertently left your child somewhere and had to embarrassingly go back to find them.
  • You still find great joy in playing games from your child hood.
  • That panic button on your car key fob is not really for a panic situation. It’s simply a built in car locator that you put to good use.
  • You truly believe there’s no such thing as too much fun…only not enough fun or enough people to have fun!
  • You find yourself drawn to things that sparkle, shine, or catch attention…even if others aren’t!
  • You use exclamation points in groups and have to remind yourself to use a simple period.
  • You truly think you have a story to match or top just about any story told…and they are good stories!
  • You have no problem sharing your most embarrassing moments; after all, they are funny!! Why waste them?!?!?

 

If you read this list, laugh hysterically, and think you could add more that are even better…you are probably a Playful Sanguine! If you read this and thought, that’s just dumb! You are probably a Powerful Choleric! If you are still hung up on why someone would want to share their embarrassing moments or even use that panic button on purpose, you are probably a Proper Melancholic. And if you chuckled a little and felt tired by the energy that person in the list must have, you are probably a Peaceful Phlegmatic!

This is just a fun little list. For those interested, you might enjoy getting a copy of The You Zoo. There is a short parent personality assessment, as well as the child assessment in the book. Stay tuned for two more light-hearted entries on the other parent personalities!

When the Experiment Goes Crazy! If Emotional Needs Are Not Met…Part 1

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Sometimes as a parent, you look around and think, “What happened here?” It may look or sound like there was an explosion of sorts. It’s in these moments that you can usually guess that someone’s not getting their emotional needs met!

We had one such moment in our house the other night. When I took a step back, a deep breath, and a minute to assess the situation, we were all spared from the drama that was unfolding in front of us. My Powerful Child was feeling a lack of control over the situation. My Proper Melancholic Child was feeling that things were not fair and that I was not understanding the concern he had with that. And My Playful Child was feeling the need to be center stage and could only secure that spot by being more noticed than the other two children that were erupting at the moment. Yes, it feel like utter chaos. And I must admit that in the moment I felt overwhelmed and frustrated, not to mention that it was unfolding in front of my mom and I was utterly mortified! My first response was to call them all three together and get the train back on the track. Within just a minute of that attempt, it was obviously not the right right approach. Things continued to escalate, rather than de-escalate!

So I decided to send them each to a different spot in the house and meet them there in their location to better address what they needed. In that way, I could individually hear them, care about them, and problem solve according to their needs. The child needing control was able to pull it together when I could give two choices of what he was able to do. That allowed him to have some control and get things back on track. The child who was hung up on fair and being understood was able to voice his perspective. I agreed with what was right and decided that in this situation there could be some grace and less discipline for his part in the situation. And my daughter that was needing to be the center of attention, once I got her to her room and she was getting my attention was able to quickly apologize, accept a hug, and agreed to her discipline.  Had we stayed in the kitchen trying to wade through all of this with a one size fits all approach, I can assure you it would have gotten messy!! Instead, after making my rounds, we were back at the table and laughing in 10 minutes! So worth the few minutes it took!

How do you know when your child’s emotional needs are not being met?

  • Increase in fits or anger
  • Appears to shut down
  • Negative attitudes flare
  • Begin to get argumentative
  • Increase in sibling rivalry
  • Flaring struggles of that personality
  • Acting out in haughty or aggressive fashion

The problem is, when the above things start happening, it can be our nature to pull back, get frustrated and withdraw from a situation or even a child because of the negative feelings that rise in us. When we feel bugged or annoyed by them, that is the first sign that something needs addressed. And the interesting thing is: they need the most when we feel the least like giving it. So stop when you feel that happen inside of you. Pause and think about the core emotional needs of your child. How can you hear what they are asking for, whether through their behavior or words. It may take some sorting! Those powerful children are power packed and very in tune with their anger. You may find yourself hurting because of some of the things they say. Pause, hold your tongue, and think. Then respond in a manner that addresses their need. Does that mean that they don’t get discipline for the disrespect or inappropriate manner in which they showed their anger. NO! That must happen too. But address the need, and they will respond to even the discipline in a whole new way.

This may sound a little complicated, but it’s not. We will break it down a little more in tomorrow’s post and talk about each personality. I will give some practical tools for you to put to good use.

Parenting With Personality–It WILL Make a Difference

colors and kids

We’ve covered some of the personality basics, such as the visual clues, verbal clues, strengths, struggles and personality blends, but you might be wondering why this is important. What difference will it make? How will it help my family? There are numerous ways in which this information can transform you, your relationship with your child, and your whole family!

Nineteen years ago, I gave birth to my first son. He was cute, cuddly, easy going, and enjoyable. This was my first trip through parenting. I rarely had to discipline, and he behaved quite well. I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I guess in some ways, I thought I was rockin’ this mother stuff! I must be a pretty good mom. He was well-mannered and compliant and got along so well with young and old alike. I must be doing something right!

Well, five years later I gave birth to our second son. I loved him and enjoyed him just as much as my first, but it was clear from the beginning that this was a whole new journey! From early on, he tested, he tried, and he pushed the limits. He was not the compliant type, knew no giants, and was willing to go toe-to-toe at the start of each day, and many times in between! I struggled and felt like I was failing as a mom. I couldn’t do anything right, and what had worked so well with my first child just flopped with my second child. I had lost my touch. I stunk at mothering!

Then one day, as I was reflecting on their differences I began to think about the personality books I had read nearly ten years before. Wait a minute! It all started coming together as I thought about their personalities and their unique strengths and needs. I could continue to walk this road of utter frustration, or I could pause to figure out how my journey with each would look, feel, and be different and unique. That pausing and reflecting probably kept me from giving up as a mom and never having another child. It helped me realize the importance of living each day with the knowledge that my relationship with each child would have to be handled unique to their personality. And that has made all the difference in my connections with each of my kids.

My trial and error didn’t end with those two kids. I am a mother of seven. And let me tell you, if I didn’t know about the personalities I would think I was losing my mind! We have a wide variety of personalities…no two exactly alike. You could either say we have our bases covered or you could say we have a three ring circus! I have experienced that feeling that things are going easily, and I have also felt that same frustration that I’m just not cutting it! But now, I feel armed with an understanding of the personalities and practical tools to meet each child right where they are…and not necessarily where I want them to be! It has been a true lifesaver. And that is simply why I have such a passion to educate, encourage, and equip parents as they parent their children and form lasting relationships with them.

This understanding of the personalities can extend beyond just me as a mom though. Our whole family can put this to use. Our sons can gain insight into why their sister loves to imagine and pretend and her frustration when they don’t take part. Our daughter can begin to see how exhausting her emotional roller coaster can be for her brothers who just live in laid back mode. One who desires constant activity may need to understand that another needs some down time at home to get back on his game. The child who likes to bark orders and run the show can learn what response he gets when he doesn’t communicate with a kinder tone.

Maybe you’re a parent who is struggling and doubting your ability. Maybe you just think that there has got to be an easier way to understand your child. Maybe you just need something to help transform the lack of flow or connection your family feels. Let me assure you…parenting with personality WILL make a difference. I couldn’t be more confident that this personality information will make a difference for you and your family. This blog will establish the basics of personalities so that readers can always have a resource to turn to for the framework of personalities, but then we will be an ongoing resource of practical tools and ideas for the things families face each day. This blog is a companion resource and based on the book The You Zoo.

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