Pre-Holiday Special from Wyatt the Wonder Dog


The holidays are just around the corner and Wyatt the Wonder Dog is wondering how long he will have to wait until the big day and what gifts he will get.  His mother however, has a more important question, “What will you give for Christmas?”  Join Wyatt as he learns a valuable lesson about how anyone can be generous and giving at Christmas and all through the year.

Purchase Wyatt Learns about Giving and any two other Wyatt books for the special holiday price of $30.00 plus shipping and handling and receive a free Christmas bandana from Wyatt.  Here is my favorite walking partner (sorry Sherran) modeling the bandana:

Buddy with Bandana

Here is the bandana design:

Screen shot 2014-10-22 at 7.23.28 PM


Be sure to put the titles of the two additional books in the comment section on Paypal.

Are Rewards and Incentives Detrimental to Motivation?

stuff parent want to know

I’ve been traveling and driving a lot lately which means that I’ve been listening to a lot of books.  One book that has some amazing information relevant to parents and educators is Daniel Pink’s book, Drive.  No, it’s not a book about driving a car… it’s a book about what motivates people to learn and to perform.

It’s Not What You Think

The author reviews a lot of research that confirms what any parent or educator who has tried to motivate children with carrots (rewards or incentives) and sticks (punishments) knows;  it is not an effective way to create  a lifelong learner.  While children (and adults for that matter) will often perform to achieve a reward in the short term, in order to maintain interest and commitment to the task, one must create an ever expanding system of rewards.  While an M & M candy may be rewarding the first time a child ever gets one,  before you know it, a whole candy store is necessary to keep her engaged.

There’s More to the Story

Here’s the really amazing thing the research shows about rewards; once they are taken away, the student is less likely to continue the activity even if they initially found the activity itself rewarding.  This means in the long run rewards are actually detrimental to the overall intrinsic motivation of the student.  In one study of preschoolers, students who initially chose to color in their free time and who were later rewarded for choosing to color, did not return to coloring once the reward was taken away.  Schools actually sabotage their own environment by establishing reward systems because children become dependent on outside forces in order to be motivated and without them lose their natural curiosity.

What is the alternative?

What is left for parents and teachers to do?

  •  Great educators develop a relationship with their students. Because they know and understand their students, they celebrate their strengths.
  • Great educators give students ownership of their learning–Teachers are responsible for providing a creative learning environment, but ultimately students have responsibility for taking the initiative.
  • Great educators give students a choice-while students don’t always have a choice about  what it is necessary to learn (because of curriculum requirements teachers don’t have that choice either!), they can have a choice in many aspects of how, when and where they learn.  Creativity and critical thinking is encouraged.
  • Great educators make their lessons relevant to students’ current interests and their lives.  This doesn’t mean that they have to be knowledgeable about every current fad, only that they  relate the information to the practical world.

Teaching without carrots and sticks is possible but it takes a new and creative mindset on everyone’s part.

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Parenting the Careful, Conscientious Child


Strengths of the C Wired Child

So your child isn’t a high energy, a steady or a strong-willed child.  What is the fourth and last personality style? Maybe your child is a C personality style which is described as cautious, careful, conscientious, correct, and consistent, just to name a few descriptive words.  They tend to be extremely gifted and make up about 20-25% of the population.  They like to be right, follow the rules and can be very loyal to traditions. Not as outgoing as the determined or D type they are however similar in that they are task focused and like to stick with something until it is completed.

Sometimes C wired children have a perfectionistic, idealistic approach. They tend to see the world as black and white and are often impatient with other’s perceptions that are different from their own.   They can be very hard on themselves and others when they don’t measure up to their high standards.  C personalities like to be right and follow the rules.  Quality and details are important to them, so they cannot be rushed or pushed.  They need time to make decisions since they like to gather the facts and do things correctly.  Sometimes this perfectionistic bent can lead to analysis paralysis, where they cannot make decisions or more forward because they can always gather more facts to analyze before making the perfect decision.

Parenting the C Wired Child

This is a child who benefits from sincere praise and appreciation of a job well done.  Correction should be gentle.  An important role of the parent of a C child is to help them see the big picture and not get too caught up in the details.  Help them discover quality answers to their many questions and appreciate their curiosity about the world and how it works.  Encourage them to interact with others and learn to empathize with feelings.  Celebrate the C child’s naturally inquisitive, inventive nature, and their desire to do things right and with high value.  Oh, and get ready for those challenging “where do babies come from…” questions.  Smile.

Parenting the Shy Sensitive Child

meandprestonIn recent blog posts I have been talking about the outgoing personality styles of  the D (dominant, direct decisive) personality style and the I (inspiring, interactive, influential) personality styles.  In this blog, I will be discussing one of the two personality styles that are more reserved or introverted.  When I teach this information in parenting classes, I always emphasize is that there is no single personality style that is better than another.  This statement often resonates in a powerful way with many participants since our culture does promote the extroverted personality style over the introverted as the way to be successful, popular and well-adjusted.  In fact, there is much evidence to the contrary that the reserved personality style is equally successful, popular and well-adjusted, especially when they focus on their unique characteristics and work in their strengths.

Strengths of the S Personality Style

In a school guidance lesson one day, a book I was reading had the line in it… “Are you feeling bold?”.  I’ve learned never to assume that children know what I am talking about, so I stopped and asked the kindergarten class if they knew what bold meant.  Being five and six years old they  were of course confident that they did.  The child I called on replied “You know, it’s when you have no hair.”

Bold is probably not a word that would be used to describe the S personality style. In fact, they may be shy, reserved and reluctant to move outside of the status quo.  They have lots of wonderful qualities including:  steady, stable and supportive. Children who are wired this way often consider others first and have a big servant’s heart.  S type children are delightful to be around and if you have one in your family, you are blessed. Teachers especially enjoy having S type students in their classroom. They are highly motivated to perform and please the adults around them. They are the students who draw a picture or write you a letter to let you know that you are the best teacher in the world. About 30-35% of the population is wired with the S type personality.

Parenting the S Personality Style

What is the downside of the S type personality? They can be too devoted to pleasing others. They may need to learn that friendship sometimes needs to take second place to other aspects of their lives. In addition, they need to learn that conflict can be healthy and necessary. Be sure to balance doing things for your ‘S’ child with encouraging him to do things for himself. They often need help starting tasks and making decisions although they are great at finishing tasks once started.   They will need to learn to form opinions for themselves and not to be easily influenced by others who have a more dominant personality.  Make sure you offer lots of appreciation and support to the ‘S’ child and they will thrive. Take a softer and more gentle approach by speaking in softer less demanding tones.  Show appreciation for who they are rather than on what they accomplish.  Celebrate the dependable, compassionate nature of their personality which always strives for peace and harmony in the family.

A Great Resource on the Reserved Personality Style

The book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain is an amazing resource for anyone who wants to  learn more about this personality style.  While this book is primarily written for adults who are introverts, there is much information in this book about children and parenting.  Cain’s book is full of research validating the differences in personality that even infants and young children display. However her main focus is the often-overlooked value and strengths of the introvert.  She concludes her book with a section on “How to Cultivate Quiet Kids in a World That Can’t Hear Them”.  Her advice to parents can be summarized as follows:

  • Take the time to understand the personality style of your introverted child
  • Don’t try to change them into someone more extroverted by pushing them into sports, activities, play dates or anything that they are not interested in doing
  • Recognize that the areas where they have strengths are sometimes solitary pursuits.  Encourage and celebrate these talents.
  • Learn about and share with them the lives of some of the famous introverts, such as Rosa Parks, Albert Einstein or Eleanor Roosevelt.
  • Recognize and teach children that introverts can be leaders, performers, really anything that they have a passion for, they just go at it from a different direction.
  • Celebrate with your child the characteristics they have that make them uniquely special.

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Parenting the High Energy Child


In the last post, I talked about the ‘D’ wired or strong willed child.  Another outgoing and active personality type is the ‘I’ profile.  See if you can tell the characteristics of this child from the following letter. It was written to Bethany Hamilton, the young surfer who lost her arm in a shark attack. In a fourth grade guidance lesson about people who overcame great difficulties and finished strong, we studied Bethany’s story then each student wrote her a letter. Here’s a letter from one of the fourth grade students:

Dear Bethany,

My name is Carleigh. I’m enjoying learning about you. What do you like to do when you’re not surfing? Are you still surfing? Are you married, and do you have any kids? Lots of people like you. You are the people’s competition winner! Oh, yay, have a great Halloween and have a great Christmas with your family. And tell your family members have a great day and have great holidays.

Sincerely, Carleigh

P.S. You’re a great surfer and keep up the good work! It’s possible so do what you got to do Bethany! You’re a great person and don’t ever forget that. Your parents raised you swell.

I think from this letter, you might feel like you know more about Carleigh, the student, than Bethany the surfer. Do the words, inspirational, interactive, imaginative, friendly, talkative, outgoing, enthusiastic, warm and fun come to mind? You have just described the child who is high ‘I’. They love to be the center of attention, are extremely social, excited, warm and friendly. Unlike the ‘D’ profile, they are people-oriented, not task oriented. If you want someone to boost your spirits or to plan a party, talk to an ‘I’ personality. However, if you want to get the job done quickly, maybe you want to find another personality type. Just as with all the personalities, the ‘I’ profile has weaknesses including unfocused and impulsive.

Parenting Strategies for the High I Child

What can you do to help the high “I” child succeed? Encourage the high ‘I’ child with short term goals and recognition, so they will flourish. At the same time they need to have clear boundaries and be held accountable and responsible. Just as they are great at influencing and encouraging others they can also lean toward manipulating others with their charming personality.  Don’t let them talk their way out of the necessary chores and details of life!  The energizing fuel for this personality is FUN!  You will get better cooperation if you can inject some element of fun into their responsibilities.  Perhaps make tasks into a game or contest. Resist bailing them out if they fail to follow-through though and help them develop the discipline necessary to accomplish their goals.

 Your Parent Personality Style Matters

As always, your own personality style can influence how you parent.

  • If you are a high ‘D’ personality style, you will need to remember that the ‘I’ personality is more concerned about relationships and having fun than results.  Your skill in accomplishing the goals is something the ‘I’ personality can benefit from learning.  Help them learn to transform talk into action.
  • If you are also an ‘I’ wired parent then you will have a lot in common with your fun-loving and social child.  However, make sure that you help your child develop organizational skills and responsibility as well.
  • If you are a ‘S’ wired parent, keeping up with the pace of this active and outgoing child can be a challenge for you.  You must learn to set firm limits and follow through, since her charming and fast-talking ability can leave you wondering how you got persuaded into something you had no intention of doing.  Hold her accountable and do not overdo for her.
  • If you are a ‘C’ wired parent, you must first recognize that your personality is exactly opposite of that of your ‘I’ wired child.  You may need to modify your high expectations and look for ways to encourage him in his strengths.  This child hungers for acceptance and recognition, so find ways to encourage them as much as they encourage others.

Finally, no matter what your wired parenting style is, find time to enjoy your high ‘I’ child as much as they enjoy life!  They can bring sunshine and smiles into any group they are a part of.  Hopefully like Carleigh, they will someday say, “You raised me swell.”


To download a Personality Style Information sheet that identifies the four basic personality styles and strategies for working with each one, join the pack on the sidebar!

Parenting the Strong-Willed Child

my little hero

In a favorite comic strip, a little boy tells his Dad, “You’ll never be as smart as me Dad.  Back when God built your brain…he was using older technology.”  Pretty clever, huh?  Probably hits home for many parents like me who rely on younger children to tweak their websites, blog posts and download all kinds of materials that seem beyond  our older antiquated computer competencies.

D Wired Children

There’s another aspect of this cartoon that I like to focus on:  How is this kid wired?  What is his personality style?  Not hard to guess if you are familiar with the  DISC personality profile.  Sounds like a ‘D’ profile to me.  Often represented as a lion or an eagle, here are some words to describe them: determined, decisive, demanding, takes charge, bold, self-reliant, independent, confident, direct, competitive, challenges the status quo.  In a word, strong-willed.  Sound like anyone in your house?

Encourage Leadership

If so, I bet you are wondering how you can create a climate that promotes peace in your household while still ensuring success for the ‘D’ wired child.  Here are a few recommendations: First of all, celebrate their unique qualities!  The same characteristics that make them a challenge to parents, can also be traits that put them in charge of their own corporation or  make them the next president of the country.  Find ways to channel that talent into productive pursuits.  What can they be in charge of at home?  In the community?  At church?  If you can pique their interest and develop in them a passion for excellence in a productive arena, you will make your job as a parent much easier.

Provide Challenges

Provide them with a challenge as well as some control and choices in order to get their best cooperation.  Give them room to not only grow but fail when necessary.  ‘D’ wired children especially need to learn that there are consequences to their behavior.   Crystal clear boundaries, preferably written down, so they know your expectations will be essential.  The more you can encourage ownership of the situation, the better will be their cooperation and participation.

Develop Empathy for Others

‘D’ wired children are often not naturally sensitive to the feelings of others, so it may be your job to help them recognize how their behavior and words affect others.  Help them learn compassion and develop a servant’s heart while accomplishing their goals.

 How Are You Wired?

 Your own personality profile often determines the type of struggles you may have with the ‘D’ wired child.  If you happen to be a ‘D’ wired parent, there is the possibility of power struggles and as you both vie for control.  Be firm but consistent, avoiding threats and ultimatums.  ‘ I’ wired parents may need to focus on establishing rules and clear expectations, while following through with consequences and discipline.  If your own wiring is the ‘S’ personality profile, you will need to visit the ‘D’ traits in order to maintain control and teach her to recognize and respect authority other than her own.  Be firm and consistent.  Finally, ‘C’ wired parents may need to give their ‘D’ wired child some responsibility while refraining from stepping in when their own perfectionist goals aren’t met.  Keep in mind that while ‘D’ wired children are similarly task oriented, their pace is faster and less exacting than the reserved ‘C’ wired individual.

This is the first of a four part series on parenting through speaking your child’s personality language.  Next post will discuss parenting the Inspiring or ‘I’ type child. Sign up for the Wyatt email list to receive a description of each personality style and strategies that work well with each one.  

If you would like to read more on parenting and personality styles, I suggest Personality Insights for Moms! by Susan Crook with Robert A Rohm Ph.D.  or Different Children, Different Needs, by Dr. Charles F. Boyd with Robert Rohm.  Ph.D.