Merry Christmas from Wyatt the Wonder Dog



Twas the night before Christmas and all through the land,

Wyatt and friends were feeling quite grand.

They’d learned quite a bit about it’s meaning you see—

For the spirit of Christmas is generosity.

Wyatt used to think Christmas was all about things;

Presents and toys, electronics that ding.

But now he knows Christmas is giving and sharing,

It’s not about getting, but helping and caring.

So Wyatt wishes you a Christmas of love,

One filled full of joy and grace from above!!

Parenting and the Word, “No”


As we hit the home run stretch of the holiday season, one of the most important words, we as parents can learn to say is “no”.  I realize that I’m starting this post off on a rather negative note, and it’s certainly not my style, but it’s a hard lesson to learn and I was reminded of it just this week.  All you have to do is spend a little time out in the malls shopping with a child or observing other parents shopping with their children to see what I’m talking about.

Parenting and Personality Style

Some parenting personality styles have more trouble saying no than others.  For instance, if you are  ‘D’ personality (think dominant and direct), you probably wonder why anyone would write a post about saying no, never mind have trouble saying the words.  However, if you are any of the 3 remaining personality styles you understand the problem from a different perspective.  ‘I’ personalities (inspiring and interactive) don’t say no because they love to say yes to everything fun, exciting and festive about the holiday season.   They can find themselves in a frenzy with too many commitments and no time. ‘S’ personalities (sweet and supportive) probably have the most trouble saying no because they want to please everyone and don’t want to disappoint anyone.  They are likely to find themselves involved in so many projects that they have no time for themselves at all.  Finally, ‘C’ personalities (careful  and conscientious)  have trouble saying no because they want to make absolutely sure they have gotten all the facts before they make a decision and say no to anything.   They tend to over think a situation and have trouble taking action.


Saying No in any Season

It’s not just about saying no to children and all their requests for gifts  in this holiday season. There are many areas in our lives where saying no is healthy and a good idea year round.  Do you limit yourself and say no to material things that you can’t afford?  Do you make careful choices about where you spend your time or do you say yes to everything that comes down the pike because you don’t want to miss out on any experience?  Do you say yes to things because you’d feel guilty if you said no, even though you really don’t want to spend your time doing what you just agreed to do?  Finally, do you say yes to things because you don’t want your child to be unhappy even though you can’t afford monetarily or time-wise to honor their request?

Teaching a Valuable Lesson

As parents, I’m not sure we realize what a disservice we do to our children when we always say yes and don’t teach them the value of saying no.  Of course we can spoil them with too many material things but the real danger is that by never modeling how to say no, we never teach them to say no to themselves as adults. I was reminded of this lesson myself when teaching  a Dave Ramsey Financial Peace group. One of the young adults in the group explained that budgeting was extremely hard for her because as a child growing up, her parents managed to somehow buy everything she wanted, even if it meant sacrificing themselves.  Consequently now as an adult, she has a very hard time saying no to herself whenever she wants something even when it wrecks havoc with her finances.   When we don’t say no to our children, we don’t just spoil them for the moment.  We are also modeling  for them how to handle their own future decisions.

How do you as a parent balance saying no with saying yes to your children?  How successful are you at saying no to yourself?  Where do you think you learned that?  Share your ideas in the comment section1

Want some great ideas for gifts that make a difference?  Check out speech therapist Mary Frances Gonzalez’ facebook page on Twenty-five days til’ Christmas-Twenty Five Gifts  for gift ideas that encourage skills in early childhood development.

Buddy with Bandana

Holiday Special

Check out the holiday special on Wyatt the Wonder Dog Books and get a holiday bandana!

Gifts and the Five Love Languages

givingThe holidays are almost upon us and as usual there is a lot of discussion about gifts. A big dilemma for me when my children were little was what to get  and how much to get. The lists they gave me seemed endless and didn’t really help because they changed continually, depending on the current toy being advertised on television. Just when I thought I had a plan, the number one gift suddenly plummeted to number twenty and something new was number one.   I stayed frustrated!

Messages that Disempower Children

Christmas can be a time of blessing our children or spoiling them.  Sometimes it’s hard to draw the line where blessing becomes spoiling. However, many adults would agree that children today are often growing up with a sense of entitlement rather than a sense of empowerment and responsibility.  Here are some messages that disempower kids:

  • the way to demonstrate love is through things
  • the way to make up for parenting neglect is through things
  • the way to manipulate children into behaving is through providing things
  • the path to happiness is accumulating things

The Five Love Languages

Making sure that  gifts don’t become the focus of Christmas is important.  Recognizing our children’s personality or temperment is helpful.  As parents we connect best with our children when we recognize the five love languages as identified by Gary D. Chapman and speak to our children in those languages.  The five love languages are:

  • Words of affirmation–Could you write your child a Christmas letter that expresses gratitude for all their unique qualities?
  • Acts of service–Could you share a service project together?
  • Receiving gifts–We all focus on this one at Christmas!  One suggestion for managing this aspect of Christmas is to buy your child three gifts: one gift that the child wants, one that they need and one that is a surprise. I think this suggestion is fabulous and it covers all the possibilities. It has an element of fun, an element of practicality or educational value and it also gives the child a choice but forces some prioritizing of items.
  • Quality time–Could your gift be spending some special time enjoying a particular acitivy together?
  • Physical touch–Hopefully this is a part of every day but a gift could focus on a relaxing back rub before bed or an evening of snuggling in front of a movie as a family.

Teaching our children to become other-focused rather than self-centered and me-focused is an important step in making sure that our children grow up to be caring compassionate adults. There are many ways to encourage this in our children, but Christmas is a season especially rich in opportunities to bless our children.

 Does your family have a tradition of gift giving?  How do you recognize and address the five love languages in your family?

Want some great ideas for gifts that make a difference?  Check out speech therapist Mary Frances Gonzalez’ facebook page on Twenty-five days til’ Christmas-Twenty Five Gifts  for gift ideas that encourage skills in early childhood development.

Holiday Special

Check out the holiday special on Wyatt the Wonder Dog Books and get a holiday bandana!

A Season of Gratitude


November and Thanksgiving are wonderful seasons to teach children about generosity and gratitude.  Developing the trait of generosity is something that can be started early in small ways and then developed into bigger projects as the child grows. Taking into consideration the personality of the family members involved (as in all family projects) is critical as well.  Some children are better at being the leader while others are less likely to take on a leadership role but are quite dedicated workers. Age is of course a factor as well but even young children can learn to give food, toys or clothing to those in need.

Giving the Gift of Service

The best and most life changing gift for children and adults however, is service that involves giving of more than our excess. It involves giving time in service.  Your family might spend a Saturday morning in a soup kitchen for the homeless, or volunteer in a nursing home to visit with residents who have no family. It’s cleaning up a park or helping out at an animal shelter.

Here are some ways to engage the different personality styles in service:

D personality: dominant, determined, decisive

Engage children in creating and planning the family project.  For instance, they could research various charities and decide how the family could become involved.  This is a child who likes challenge and control so encourage them to take a leadership role.

I personality:  inspiring, interactive, influential

This is a personality style that thrives on social interaction.  They could start a club or invite friends to join in a service project.  If they are involved in scouts or a church group, they may take the lead in involving others in service. They will thrive in an environment where they are working along side friends or family.

S personality:  stable, sweet, supportive

Children with the S personality style are caring supportive helpers who have great compassion for those in need.  Given some guidance to get started and find their niche, they can become dedicated to a cause and devoted workers.

C personality:  careful, conscientious, cautious

This personality style is very detail oriented and excellent at organizing a project.  Put them in charge of keeping up with the gifts to purchase for a family in need and they will get the job done.

Service that moves us out of our comfort zone and challenges us to make a difference in the world develops children and ultimately adults, of compassion and character.

Get Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about Giving  Kindle edition for only .99!  

For all the devoted Wyatt readers there is a Kindle countdown deal starting on Friday, November 28.  Here is the link:

Here’s the countdown so mark your calendars!!

Friday, November 28:  .99

Saturday, November 29:  1.99

Sunday, November 20:  2.99

Monday, December:  regular price of  6.95

Win a Wyatt Book on Giving

Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about Giving is the perfect book to start a discussion of how children can be givers and service oriented through out the holiday season and ultimately, through out the year.  Tell me in the comments below how your family encourages giving and I will pick one lucky winner to receive a Wyatt Learns about Giving book and the CD, Wyatt’s Little Book of Lesson Plans, Worksheets and Games.

What are some of your favorite charitable organizations?  How do you teach children to  be  generous during the holidays?

Personality Styles Around the Thanksgiving Table


Thanksgiving will soon be upon us and it is the family holiday of all family holidays. Expectations can be high for an  ideal family gathering where old and young catch up on the events of the past year and everyone relaxes in the loving community of the people you care about most in the world. Does this sound like your family?

Many times, the actual holiday turns out to be far from the ideal. Conflicts arise.  Feelings are hurt.  What can you do to prevent a disastrous family gathering? Understanding the four basic personality styles can be a life-saver. Once you understand their style and communicate with family members according to their basic needs, you can create an accepting, positive environment where everyone can thrive.

The Four Basic Personality Styles

According to the DISC personality program, there are four basic personality styles.  We are all blends of these.  Here are the characteristics of each.:

D:  dominant, determined, decisive

I:  interactive, inspiring, influential

S:  stable, sweet, supportive

C:  competent, cautious, conscientious

The Secret Sauce

Each personality style has a secret fuel that they need to thrive.  If they don’t get their fuel, they each respond with different reactions.


Secret fuel: getting results

Reaction to not getting it:  get mad


Secret fuel:  having fun

Reaction to not getting it:  quit


Secret fuel:  peace and harmony

Reaction to not getting it:  feelings get hurt


Secret fuel:  quality answers, being right, good value

Reaction to not getting it:  get critical

How Does this Work?

My own family provides a great example of how to manage the family dynamics. One year Thanksgiving was at my oldest daughter’s home.  A high D personality style, she loves a situation where she can orchestra the event and this was perfect for her. Two weeks before the date she had already sent everyone text messages about what their dish would be and gotten confirmation about  plans for making it. If you have someone like this in your family, give them choices, challenge and control, to ensure that things will run smoothly.

What if you have someone who is more of the personality type? They are detail oriented, competent and conscientious. Their greatest need is quality answers and they do not function well when the details are not specific. My youngest daughter, Hayley, is more of this personality and from the time she received the list of items she was to bring, she began researching the best recipes and ingredients. When this personality asks what time is Thanksgiving dinner, they expect a specific answer, something like this, “You should arrive at the house at 1:00 tomorrow. We will put the bread that you bring in the oven about 1:50 and eat about 2:00.” Telling them to show up sometime in the afternoon and that we’ll eat when every else gets there, really won’t cut it with this personality.

What if you have someone who is thepersonality? They are people oriented, inspiring to others and the life of the party. This is a family member who will keep everyone entertained with their wit and sociability. I hope you have someone like this your family to make the family gathering fun! Life and families would be dull and boring without them. However, they do tend to be impulsive and they are not very task oriented so expect them to show up late and forget the dish they were assigned to bring. What does this personality profile need? Recognition, is key so be sure to compliment them on their latest funny story or the way they liven up the get together. It truly wouldn’t be the same without them.

Last but certainly not least, you are bound to have several of the S personalities in your family. They are steady, stable and sweet. If you don’t, you may never get dinner on the table because these are the true worker bees of the world. S personalities are service oriented and very caring, compassionate people. They can sympathize with you having three kids in diapers, help grandma find the silverware so she can set the table and put the finishing touches on their own dish, all at the same time. What do they need for all their hard work? These personalities thrive on appreciation, so be sure to tell them how much you appreciate their efforts. Many counselors and teachers fit into this personality profile, along with yours truly…

Well, that covers all the four basic personality types and I’ll bet that you recognized a few family members of your own.  I know I did. Different personalities make life interesting so be sure to focus on each family member’s strengths, provide them with the kind of feedback they need and enjoy your unique family! Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

School Counselors Meet the Marshmallow Challenge

teaching3Next week I will be presenting at the Georgia School Counselor Conference in Augusta, Georgia where I will be speaking on personality style and teaching leadership lessons to students.  One activity I will be demonstrating and that students always love is the Marshmallow Challenge.   It originally appeared on the TED talks and has been replicated hundreds of times.

The Challenge

 I found it immediately intriguing the first time I heard about it.  You begin by giving each group of students the following items:

  1. Twenty sticks of spaghetti
  2. One large marshmallow
  3. A yard of masking tape
  4. A yard of yarn


Each team has fifteen minutes to create the tallest free standing tower they can with the supplies that are given.  The marshmallow must go on the top of the structure.  The tower should be built on the table.  Nothing may be added to the supplies  given.

First  I always allow some time to talk about the instructions.  We define free-standing.  We emphasize that the marshmallow goes on top.  I answer some questions.

This activity has lots of appeal to students. It is:

  • Creative
  • Hands-on, active and interactive
  • Memorable
  • Challenging

After I give the instructions, I give the students five minutes or so to discuss the project and how they plan to carry it out. They draw or write a description of what they think the tower will look like.  They also estimate how long they think it will take their group to finish.  I’ve found this to be a necessary piece to the project so that they learn to plan rather than just jump in with little preparation.

The Amazing Results

Sometimes the results are amazing:


Some groups create a more classic tower:


And then there are always the towers that never quite make it:


This activity has lots of applications.  I use it to talk about:

  • Setting goals and planning ahead
  • Working together/personality styles
  • Handling failure/Trying again

In addition to teaching these concepts, you also learn a lot about the individual students and the team they are a part of.

Want to determine your personality style?  Check out the Online DISC Personality Profile.  You will receive 20+ pages of information about your personality and how it relates to other personality styles.  It is invaluable!

The holidays are just around the corner.  Check out Wyatt’s special holiday deal: