When your kids drive you crazy.

Sarah was exhausted. No matter how many activities she scheduled for her son, he always wanted more. She worried about overbooking him (and herself) but every time they had a day at home, he ended up climbing the walls and driving her crazy.

Julie was frustrated. At home, her daughter was exuberant and talkative, but out in public, she shut down. She scowled and clung when people tried to talk to her and refused to participate in activities. Julie couldn’t understand how her daughter could act so rude to people who are just being nice.

When parents feel calm and at peace, it brings out their best parenting skills. But when we argue with the reality of who our kids are, we drive ourselves crazy. “Why can’t he just come home, sit down, and get his homework DONE instead of dragging it on for hours.” “What’s so hard about making friends? Just go up and ask them if they want to play.” “Why can’t she be more like the other kids?”

When we argue with our child’s TEMPERAMENT, we lose. All kids were made with built in personality traits that we can certainly squelch but the effort will exhaust and frustrate us and cause our children to be unhappy, believing they are innately flawed. A better way is to understand how your kids are wired and parent, based on who they are. But how do we know what is temperament, something we cannot and should not try to change, vs. something they just haven’t learned yet and it’s up to us to teach them? This is the classic nurture vs. nature debate and the best resource I have found is the book Nurture by Nature by Paul D. Tieger and Barbara Barron-Tieger. This book uses the classic Myers-Briggs Personality Type assessment many people discover from human resource departments, but is geared towards raising children.

My clients want to respect the essence of their kids and support who they are, but they want to stay sane while doing it. Accepting your child’s personality, as it is, and parenting them accordingly, is so worth the effort. Here are a few questions to consider…..
Does your child like to play with toys or board games as they are intended “S” or will he create his own version, changing rules as he goes, for something totally different ”N”?

Does your child need time at home to fill up their energy tank “I” or does staying home drain them and make them antsy “E”?

Does your child refuse to accept responsibility when they cause pain or sadness in someone else? They may be a deep feeler “F” and the thought they caused someone harm might be too much for them to take. Or are they perplexed by the emotional reaction they caused, “T” and need an explanation as to why the child is crying.

When it comes to making decisions like childcare, school choice, summer camps, understanding your child’s personality type is SO helpful. Instead of comparing your kid to others, look at who they are as a unique individual and ask yourself, how can I help them to be their best?

Being a former reading specialist, it drove me crazy that my daughter didn’t like books or reading. Once I realized she was an INFJ and was more interested in her OWN ideas than someone else’s, I could help her learn to like reading. By changing the endings, letting her lead, and using the pictures to tell alternative stories, I helped her discover the joy of storytelling. I also need to make sure she has plenty of unstructured time after school where she can invent and be the boss.

My ESFJ is way harder on himself than I could ever be. So instead of reminding him to “be good” or suggesting he pay attention in school, I have learned to celebrate mistakes. “Oh well, no big deal” is a mantra I try to use a lot of in my home as well as, “guess what awesome mistake I made today?”  Unlike INTP’s, whose mission is to question authority, ESFJ’s cannot function with conflict so maintaining harmony at all times is of primary concern.

The Serenity Prayer from Alcoholics Anonymous is a perfect mantra for parents. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” You can gain wisdom by assessing your personality profile, online for free. It’s geared towards adults but if your kids are older you can use it for them. Also check out Nurture by Nature. It’s super fun (unless you are an ISTJ or INTJ, then it’s torture☺) but it works best if your child is age 4 or older to get a clear picture of their type.

My much-loved, dog-eared, duct-taped copy.

“The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.” Joseph Campbell

Seven Steps to Making New Years Resolutions that Stick

I love the fresh start of the new year.  My kids and I are pulling out our vision boards and magazines and dreaming and about an even more ideal life.  Right now, my list of resolutions is so long it’s likely none of them will come true.  So while I choose which ones to focus on, I thought I’d share with you my 7 steps to creating successful change.  Teaching kids how to make dreams come true and accomplish goals is one of the greatest things we can teach.  And since the #1 way kids learn is by imitation, why not show them by creating your own, most fabulous and ideal life.

1.  Pick something you really, really, really, really want.  Make a long list of all the things you’d like to change, then ask yourself, what is it I REALLY YEARN for?  (Hint – it’s going to be a feeling.)

2. Imagine what it will feel like to have accomplished your goal.  Bathe in the emotions of it:  self-pride, accomplishment, freedom, joy.   Notice what it feels like in your body and breathe it in.  (BTW – This is how we are meant to feel all the time)

3. What in your life are you willing to give up in order to make room for your new dream to come true?  (Moms, especially, have a tendency to pile more stuff on to their plate without realizing there is a limit to how much time and energy they have.)  Mentally scan your weekly routine and choose the areas you’d like to replace with something new.

4. Imagine it happening perfectly.  Go walk the dog or take a bath and spend time imagining your new routine.  Create a scene in your mind like a movie with you as the star.  Imagine what sights you see, sounds you hear, smells, tastes, textures, and most importantly, what it feels like to be living in your ideal future.  Breathe into the difference of where you are today, and where you’d like to be.

5. Anticipate obstacles.  In this mental movie, imagine what obstacles arise (distractions, you get sick, people need you, etc.).  Imagine that you overcome these obstacles with grace and ease, without abandoning your goal or positive emotions associated with it.

6. Write it down.  Studies show that your chances of accomplishing a goal improve 33% if you write down what it is you want, create action steps and check in with a friend or coach to whom you feel accountable.

7. Celebrate your victories.  If you are like me, this is the hardest of all steps.  Brag to your spouse, your friends, your dog, and most importantly, your mirror.  Say out loud, “I did it!  I worked out today, yeah, ME!”  Look at your reflection and tell it how proud you are that you overcame resistance.   Tell your kids how amazing their Mom or Dad is and what a super star you are.  Model for them what it’s like to work hard to create positive change.  Model for them what it’s like to honor yourself.