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Posts tagged ‘personality differences’

“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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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.

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!

What!? My Child Has A Default Setting?!

personality chart2

I just don’t get my child! How do I know what they want?!

I have heard numerous weary parents express this sentiment in a variety of ways. It can be hard to think like a child, and especially when that child is worlds different than our natural personality bent. And sometimes, even if they share the same personality, a parent and child can really butt heads, being so similar and wanting things so similar, yet going about it in two very different ways. So how do we anticipate what our kids want? How do we figure out what moves them or motivates them?

We remember the default setting. The what? The default setting. You see, each personality has what we might consider a motto. It is kind of like the core of their personality, sums many things up in just a short little phrase, and functions kind of like their default setting. It’s what they choose or desire or do without even thinking about it. This is easy to remember and can kind of act like a reset button in our own minds when we feel like we’re stuck! It can be a lifesaver in those moments that we just can’t figure out what to do.

So what are the personality mottos?

The Playful Sanguine child’s motto:   “I must have some excitement!”

The Powerful Choleric child’s motto:  “I must have some control!”

The Proper Melancholic child’s motto:  “I must have some order!”

The Peaceful Phlegmatic child’s motto:  “I must have some rest!”

We had a recent example of this in our own home. Our kids were struggling with getting their chores done. I felt like I was putting more effort into getting them to do their jobs then they were putting into doing their jobs. So, I kindly made them chore charts to help them be accountable (and hopefully reduce my amount of nagging and frustration). Despite my best efforts at helping them succeed with my cute charts, we were still struggling! So, I slowed myself up one day and thought about what they might really need to get motivated.

Then, I asked each child to make their own chore chart. It was rather interesting to see what they came up with, but it so beautifully illustrates this point!

 

Here are some of the key things I noticed:

chorecharts3

  • My Powerful Choleric (natural leader) was the first to start the process. He even taught a couple of the others how to use the program and spreadsheet feature.

chore charts1

  • My Playful Sanguine and Peaceful Phlegmatic children (both personalities being relational) placed pictures of them with other people all around their charts to decorate them.

chorecharts2

  • My Peaceful Phlegmatic that wants rest was sure to mark his chart with the reminder that Sunday was no jobs, just REST!
  • My Powerful Choleric/Proper Melancholic (being task focused) was sure to point out to the others that there didn’t need to be any designs, as this was a CHORE Chart…it was not supposed to be fun!

We have had much more success with the chore charts. Are we perfect?  No! By no means can I claim we are! But in slowing down, I remembered that I was going to get the best movement and buy-in when I could tap into what really mattered to them or motivated them. My Playful Sanguines needed some excitement, so to see a fun chart that they designed themselves would be far more appealing than my chart that was the same for everybody. My Powerful Choleric needed to have some control. By making his own chart and placing his tasks on it, he was deciding how it would be done. My Peaceful Phlegmatic just needed that little light at the end of the tunnel that REST would come!

Each child now has a chore chart that has the same chores I would have put on them, and they are still required to do the same thing as before. But because I took the time to address the core motivators, I am getting a much better response. Who would guess that such a small little twist could change a home?! That’s what it’s like to function with the default setting!

What Matters More…The People or The Task?

children talking

This might be an interesting question to pose to a group of adults. Their answers might surprise you! You might think it doesn’t even occur to kids. The truth is, it does. They just wouldn’t know how to articulate that as well as the adults. If you were to watch a group of kids involved in an activity together, this is what you might notice.

  • Some kids will have a constant dialogue going to themselves or quietly in their heads but won’t necessarily share that with others.
  • Some kids will be talking the whole way through the activity sharing every thought and idea, whether good or bad.

And while those two things may relate more to the introversion or extroversion triat, there are other factors at play. Some kids will be:

  • worried about getting the task done on time
  • voicing their concern that the task is not being done right
  • wrapped up in the rules in which the task is to be done
  • concerned that the task could be done better or more efficiently
  • double checking and perfecting the task however they can

While other kids will be:

  • trying to get everyone involved and make them feel included
  • making sure everyone agrees on how it is done
  • listening to everyone’s ideas and thoughts
  • tuned in to how everyone is feeling during the task
  • trying to ensure that things go smoothly for everyone

Can you see the difference in the two lists. The first reflects those who are task focused. They think more about the task at hand than the people involved in carrying it out. The second list reflects those who are relationship focused. They worry more about the people involved, the feelings involved, and how everyone is feeling during the process, instead of the task itself.

personality chart

The personalities on the left side of the quadrant, Playful Sanguine and Peaceful Phlegmatic, are relationship focused. Those on the right side, Powerful Choleric and Proper Melancholic, are task focused. Trying to pinpoint this trait can help you figure out which side of the chart someone is on, if you are struggling to decide between two.

This is usually one of the more insightful things people discover about themselves and others. Many adults that learn about this are surprised to find that others don’t necessarily value the same thing they do. Likewise, in a relationship, this can make a big difference. And why does this matter with our kids. You may be trying desperately to connect relationally with your child. You may feel that they avoid you or are indifferent to you. What you might actually be experiencing is that your child is task focused. His need to be relational may take second seat to what is being done at the time. Or maybe you have a relational child and you tend to be task focused. You may be missing an important link for your child’s emotional needs if you busy yourself with too many tasks and don’t stop to connect the dots of what they need relationally. Don’t underestimate how important this trait may be to relate to your child in a meaningful way.

Did I Really Just Hear That? Verbal Clues to Your Child’s Personality

children talking

One might imagine the noise and chatter among nine humans in a home such as ours! And while I wish I could claim that we have all our ducks in a row and are perfectly mannered and organized, truth is, we have our tidal waves of chaos, noise, and stress. At times, I think we need a whistle (okay, maybe a secluded island) just to reclaim some quiet air time! One such predictable wave appears to happen at meal time. You can always count on a side of whacky chatter, served alongside a healthy helping of boy noise (yes, there’s six of them), all amidst the stirred pot of drama by the lone drama queen (yes, we have just one lone girl in the bunch). Yes, there is also the usual table conversation that several are attempting to have, and despite my efforts at proclaiming the table a “clap-free, chant-free, drama-free, banging-free zone”…we still end up sounding like a bad rap song at times! I remind myself often that around that very table we are making memories, connecting, and learning (hopefully those desired manners).  The things said around that table are very important. They give us a window into the hearts of our kids, a glimpse into the hours spent apart, a piece of what they are holding dear or dreadfully hoping to forget, as they recount the experiences of their day. Maybe the learning that happens around that table far exceeds manners, but really teaches me about the thoughts, feelings, and needs of my children. Opening my ears and mind to what I hear there might really help me understand what makes each child tick!

Truth be known, though, there are things being said throughout the course of a day that serve as great verbal clues to a child’s personality. Some of these things are being said as they tell stories and retell experiences. Other things are being said as they are asked questions and carry on conversations. But honestly, some of the best verbal clues are happening spontaneously, in response to what is happening around them. Some of these responses happen between adult and child, some between children, and for some personalities…even to themselves!

So lets’ imagine for a moment that we get some uninterrupted time to just listen to each of the personalities. Let’s focus on some of the clues that each of them might give throughout the course of a day. Now remember, it’s not so much about the exact words. Every personality could say the words if need be. We are thinking about the words or phrases that tend to come without hesitations, by habit, and with intention to communicate their needs.

A Playful Sanguine child engages others from an early age. They are usually early talkers. This child generally greats each day with excitement and wants to be busy with fun all day long. “Are we going anywhere? What are we gonna do today?” They will want to know who they get to see or what they get to do and will be expressive and dramatic as they put it all together. “Do you know what my mom did?” And then you cringe, hang on, and prepare to run and hide! This child will tell everything and then some. “That’s not the end of my story!” They bring a whole new meaning to the term TMI or too much information. Because they love to tell stories, they have a hard time stopping those stories, and can be found in the midst of a big fat lie with no effort at all! “Yes, it really did happen!”  They will want to engage with others, even if they are perfect strangers, and can notify them of all your personal information in about 3 seconds flat! They aren’t much for the mundane and will remember the fun times, so prepare to attempt to relive their fun moments just to make a mundane task bearable. “Can we make this fun, like that time when…” And truly, that word will be central to their functioning and communicating…FUN! Because they have a flair for the dramatic, prepare to hear words that represent the extremes…the words All, none, never, always which may be delivered with tears or deep expression.

A Powerful Choleric child has his communication packaged for great effectiveness at a very early age. They may have been loud and deliberate criers. Early on they learn to point to help get the message heard. They never struggle to say, “No!” Even when an adult asks them to do something, they won’t think twice before they say, “I don’t want to!” When asked questions about their preferences or opinions, they will not hesitate to give their honest thoughts, “No, I don’t like it.” They see little need to get help from others, and working with others will generally frustrate them, so you will often hear them say, “I can do it myself!” Most generally, they like their plan best. So don’t be surprised if other plans are met with, “That won’t work!” or “That’s dumb!” Being direct and to the point may distract this child from the using the polite words of please and thank you and instead they may declare, “ I want…” This child may appear to speak with one volume, LOUD and confident.

A Proper Melancholic won’t give as many verbal clues, but that in itself is a clue. They are private and tend to keep their words and thoughts to themselves, sharing on a need to know basis. Because they think carefully about their words, they often preface things with, “I think…”. They like when things work perfectly, and may get very upset when they don’t. “It doesn’t work,” might really mean, it’s not perfect. Because justice is of high importance to them, they will often declare, “It’s not fair!” They have great memory for how things have gone in the past and won’t want you to forget, “Last time they got to…” Because they want things to turn out perfectly, you may hear, “Can you help me..” a lot. This child may appear moody or upset, but does not want to be cheered. Instead they will probably just say, “I want to be alone.” They may not speak their minds, but will desire for you to just know what they need. If asked what’s wrong, they will probably respond, “Nothing,” but they may really be wishing you would care enough to figure it out. Their voices tend to be quieter, making them often sound shy or even sad.

A Peaceful Phlegmatic may be slightly harder to hear, as they don’t speak up very often. But when they speak it will usually be meaningful. These are typically very observant children but will probably not say much about what they see unless you ask. Should you ask for an answer, though, you may hear, “I don’t know.” They are indecisive and don’t ever want their answer to cause any problems or hurt feelings. But don’t stop there. They may have an impressive insight. When asked to get something done, their first response is usually, “I can’t.”  or  “I don’t know how.” When trying to complete tasks you just might hear how easily they become over whelmed. “It’s too much!” or “It’s too hard!” follows even simple requests. They require a great amount of down time and rest, so you may hear them say, “I’m too tired” quite often! They have no problem asking, “Can you help me?” They are very in tune to those around them and care about their comfort. So words like “Are you okay?”  or “What’s the matter” flow easily from them as they observe others. They generally use their calm words and tone to be an agent for peace and reassurance.

As you listen to your children, you may be surprised at the clues they give you to understanding their personality and what makes them tick! It is helpful to slow down and understand not just the words but the meaning behind them. When we understand where our kids are coming from, we can better help them get where they are going! Take time to connect and know them as they are, and they will feel loved in a whole new way!

*** For more information on understanding your child and his/her unique personality, check out this refreshing and practical parenting tool. The You Zoo book is an interactive children’s personality assessment that serves as a great parenting resource with loads of useful information and tips packed inside. Visit TheYouZoo.com to learn more about it.

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