Category Archives: parenting

Parenting the Introvert

Celebrating the Introverted Personality

When I teach parent training groups on personality style, one question that often comes up is how to best parent a child who is reserved or introverted. I always reassure parents that there is no one 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 actuality, there is much evidence 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. If the parent is an extrovert themselves they may feel that they need to help their child become more outgoing and get more involved in a social network.  I always caution parents and other adults in an introverted child’s life to learn to celebrate their child’s unique and positive characteristics rather than try to change them.

What is the definition of an introvert anyway?

According to Marti Olsen Laney  in The Introvert Advantage: How Quiet People can Thrive in an Extrovert World, there are three main differences between an introvert and an extrovert.

  • An introvert gets their energy from within.  They are energized by their internal world, ideas, impressions and emotions.  Like a rechargeable battery they often need to plan ahead and replenish their energy by finding some quiet alone time. Extroverts on the other hand are energized by interacting with others. They are like the Energizer bunny that keeps going and going because  the more they interact, the more energized they feel.
  • An introvert can feel drained and overstimulated by too many activities.  They may need to dial down the amount of stimulation or simplify their environment so they don’t feel overwhelmed. Extroverts on the other hand are energized by the external world of people, places and things.  They enjoy lots of activities and stimulation.
  • An introvert accrues knowledge by going deep.  They tend to have a narrow but in depth focus in their interactions with others and in their experiences.  They want to know a lot about any particular area of interest.  Introverts tend to have fewer but very close friends.  Extroverts accrue knowledge by going wide rather than deep. They typically will have many friends and acquaintances and seek a wide variety of experiences.

There are many misconceptions about the introvert personality style.  Here are a few more facts about introverts:

  • Introverts are not shy.  Shyness is a form of social anxiety and both introverts and extroverts can be shy.  Both introverts and extroverts enjoy interaction with people. The way that they are energized is the main difference.
  • Introverts enjoy talking but they communicate differently than extroverts.  Introverts think first, form their opinion and then speak.  Because of this introverts may need a little time to process a question. Extroverts think and talk at the same time, clarifying their thoughts and opinions as they speak.
  • Introverts are not anti-social.  They enjoy people just as extroverts do.  They may be outspoken and lively, especially in familiar comfortable settings.  However, introverts will eventually need some quiet time to recharge their energy.

Parenting the Introverted Personality Style

The book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking ,  author, Susan Cain identifies research that validates the differences in personality style 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.

Related Posts:

Celebrate your Child’s Personality Style

Personality Style and Motivation

Help Kids Set Goals that Motivate


Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about Friendship

It’s not easy being the new kid at school, especially if you are a cat and everyone else is a dog.  How do you make friends?  Can you even be friends with someone who is totally different from you?  Wyatt the Wonder Dog helps solve Ami’s friendship problem with empathy and compassion. A great story for teaching children the critical life skill of making friends.

Wyatt the Wonder Dog-Friendship Cover (1)

Wyatt Learns about Friendship



Kids and tough friendship decisions


As a school counselor for twenty years, one of the most common problems that I talked to kids about was friendship.

What do you do when a friend wants to do something that is unkind, thoughtless, or involves breaking the rules?

What do you do when a friend is bossy, self-centered and treats you unkindly?

Peer pressure and friendship decisions are a tough concept for us all. Relationships are messy for both children and adults.

Children and Self-Worth

One of the key concepts that all children need to learn and internalize is a feeling of worth and value that is inherent in their authentic self rather than based on another’s opinion. Learning to be our authentic selves is hard. We all try to avoid this difficult work.  It’s not just children that spend time trying to look and act like someone they are not. Just look at the trends on social media or television.  How can we help children with this tough work?

Being a Best Friend

I love books that combine a good story with a good lesson. It’s even better if the lesson can be summed up in one memorable sentence. The book Hunter’s Best Friend at School does all of the above and more. Written by Laura Malone Elliott, it is the tale of two raccoons who are best friends and want to do everything together and just alike. This doesn’t normally create problems, but when Stripe shows up at school in a mischief-making mood, Hunter is faced with the choice of whether or not to follow along. He soon discovers that making the wrong choice not only means they are both in trouble, but also that he is not even happy with himself. When his mother discovers his dilemma, she teaches him a great life lesson when she says, “Sometimes being a best friend means you have to help your friend be his best self.” Couldn’t we all benefit from her wisdom?

Three Tips to Help Children Be Their Best Selves

How can we as parents and educators help children recognize that they are “enough” just as they are?  How can we encourage them to be their best selves? How can we teach them to interact in a positive way with friends, even when friends are challenging?  Here are some tips:

  • Recognize the part that you play as a role model.  Children imitate what they see around them and if you do not stand firm in your own values, if you are constantly trying to measure up to someone else’s standard, children will follow the same path.
  • Recognize and encourage children in their areas of strength.  Too often we focus on areas that need improvement and while this is necessary, make sure the balance of your interaction is supportive and empowering.
  • Teach children through example and practice how to interact with peers in ways that encourage others to be their “best selves”.  Establish core values and talk about them often.Use books, movies or television examples to spark discussion. Look for teachable moments in every day life to demonstrate good decision making skills.

Related Posts:

Friendship Troubles

Kids and Decision Making

Helping kids find their voice

Wyatt Learns about Good Manners

Wyatt is always wondering about something and lately it is how to get his friend, Max to change his bossy ways.  What can he do?  Join Wyatt as he considers some rather unusual options until he finally discovers that a heart to heart talk with Max can create a new friendship with an old friend.  Wyatt_the_Wonder_Dog_Cover_Manners_Kindle

Wyatt the Wonder Dog: Learns About Good Manners


Kids and anger

Do you have a student who has a low frustration tolerance?  Even the slightest thing sets him off?

Do you have a child that loses control and throws temper tantrums?  Are you walking on eggshells trying to keep her on an even keel?

What can you do to teach more emotional control?  In the past, we taught kids lots of simple anger techniques;  take a deep breath and count to ten, take a break, ask for help. These are all worthwhile and often effective.  However, when a child has frequent anger outbursts, these techniques alone don’t really get to the root of the problem.  What if instead of teaching children what to do after they get angry, we also taught them how to understand and manage their feelings?  What if we challenged their thinking that lead them to be angry in the first place?

Here is the technique:

  1. Teach children that all feelings come from our own thoughts, not from our circumstances.  This is good news.  It means that we are each responsible for our own feelings and consequently our own behavior.  No one else and no situation makes us happy or mad.  It is how we see or perceive the situation.  Circumstances are those things that happen that are outside of our control. Here are some examples of circumstances:
    1. Sally took the toy I was playing with.
    2. George said I couldn’t play on his team.
  2. Help children identify the thought that creates the feeling.  This is the hardest part of the technique but even young children can learn to identify, often in reviewing the circumstance in hindsight, what the thought was that preceded the feeling.  Here are some examples:
    1. Sally was mean to me.  She should wait her turn.
    2. George should include me on his team.
  3. Help children determine the feeling as well as the body sensations that go along with the feeling. This involves teaching children body language as well as the words that describe feelings.
    1. I feel mad.  My body is tense and I am clenching my fists.
    2. I feel left out.  I am tearing up and about to cry.
  4. Help children change the thought in order to change and control the feeling. This is the teaching moment where you may  need to help children think of more positive and productive thoughts.   Here are some examples:
    1. Sally didn’t share or ask nicely for the toy but I know a better way to play with others. Sally is learning how to share too and she is younger than I am.
    2. Everyone can’t be on the same team.  It is okay if I am on a different team.
  5. Identify the new behavior that follows:
    1. I will play with a different toy or I will ask the teacher to help.
    2. I will ask if I can join a different team.

This is obviously a technique that requires practice and understanding.  It is not meant to replace other behavior management techniques that calm and redirect children in the midst of difficult feelings.  Instead it is a means of educating children and teaching appropriate behavior. It is a technique to prevent problems before they start.  It also helps to prepare kids to handle difficult situations that they encounter later in life.

Related Posts:

3 ways to teach kids to handle anxiety

6 steps to manage test anxiety

Stressed out?


Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about Cooperation

Wyatt wants to play Frisbee. Max want to build a fort and Callie wants to have tea party. How do the three friends reconcile their differences? Can it be done? When Wyatt doesn’t get his way, Max’s mother suggests he be the Superhero for the day. Join Wyatt as he learns how the magic of cooperation and compromise can bring the five friends closer together.

Wyatt the Wonder Dog -Cooperation Cover
Wyatt the Wonder Dog: Learns About Cooperation (Volume 6)

Stress Free Morning Routines for Kids

Mom, where’s my lunch money?

I can’t find my backpack!

What happened to my homework?  If the dog didn’t eat it who did?

Get in the car… Get.  in.  the.  CAR!

Did the school bus just go by?

It’s back to school here in Georgia.

Have you established a morning routine with your crew?  Or are you back to dreading the early morning rush and late night homework sessions?  One of the most stressful times of the day for many parents and children is the early morning rush of getting to school on time.

Although back to school start dates may vary around the country, one thing that doesn’t vary is the manic morning rush to get everyone out of the house and off to school/ work on time. To change manic mornings to  tranquil transitions create a morning schedule that is congruent with your family’s style.  Not every personality style reacts well to a timed schedule and a stop watch mentality but you can create a school morning scenario that matches your family’s unique preferences.  Here’s how:


Four tips for creating a stress free morning

  1. Begin by discussing as a family the goals that everyone has for the morning.  Be at school and work on time?  Eat a healthy breakfast?  Have a positive mindset? Have all the supplies you need for the day? Get everyone’s input to make sure everyone is clear on what is expected.
  2. Plan ahead by getting things ready the night before–  I’m a big fan of this approach. When my children were little we got clothes out and backpacks ready the night before.  Even now I prepare the night before for my next day.
  3. Leave yourself enough margin  to arrive on time—  The idea of margin is a good one. Plan for the necessary amount of time with some extra time added in for unforeseen difficulties.  Teach children to create a schedule by working backward from the time they need to arrive at school.  Then follow through.
  4. Spend some quiet time in gratitude. This is a definite part of my morning and a great start for families as well.  Share a devotion with the family as you eat breakfast.  This is so different from the rushing-out-the-door, pop-tart-in-hand approach that often characterizes the morning routine.
  5. Share a positive affirmation that sets the tone for the day–  Make the affirmation a question to get the biggest mental impact. One example is: “How can you make it a great day for someone?”  Sharing a positive thought at the last good bye can create a positive mindset that lasts all day.


Related Posts:

Personality Style and Motivation

Begin School with Intention

Create a Growth Mindset

Wyatt Learns about Being Organized

It’s time to catch the school bus and Wyatt can’t find anything.  Where is his backpack?  his lunch money? Wyatt is about to learn a valuable lesson about the importance of being organized and the benefits of planning ahead.  This adorable story offers simple helpful ideas that kids and parents can use to make life less stressful and more fun.

Wyatt the Wonder Dog: Learns About Being Organized



Kids and risk-taking

Babies and toddlers naturally take risks.   Watch any toddler navigate through a room and every step is an invitation to connect with the ground.  They wobble. They stumble. They totter here and there while the adults excitedly cheer them on.  We instinctively know that they have to make mistakes and learn how to get up when they fall in order to master the challenge of walking.

Learning to walk is a good analogy for the many skills that children must master to step into the adult arena.  What if we had the same positive and encouraging attitude when students failed a test or missed a catch in a baseball game or were rejected by a friend? Learning anything new requires taking the risk of failing and it also requires learning from those mistakes.

Two things you can learn from mistakes

There are two parts to learning from mistakes.  The first and obvious part is  learning what to do differently so that you don’t make the same mistake again.  Toddlers correct their balance.  They learn to avoid that obstacle that tripped them up. Students can learn to study more effectively.  They can practice their catches or learn how to communicate better with a friend.

The second part is dealing with the feelings surrounding making a mistake. Falling can hurt but once the tears are dried,  it doesn’t keep toddlers from trying to walk again. Helping children recognize and accept negative feelings while moving past them after a mistake is just as important as learning how to avoid making the same mistake again. Children who learn coping strategies  can quickly recover and take the  risks necessary to continue learning.

Some of the new brain research shows that our brain is hardwired to naturally retain negative experiences and to pay less attention to positive ones.  For this reason, it’s important to be intentional about learning from mistakes while focusing on and celebrating positivism and success. There was great wisdom in the old technique of getting right back on a horse once you fell off.  The quick action overcomes the anxiety that can develop and fester the longer you wait to get back in the game.

When we don’t allow students to experience taking risks as young children, when we try to program every experience for success, we short circuit their learning.  Later in life if they haven’t developed the emotional strategies to  cope with failure, they either avoid anything that involves risks or take inappropriate and dangerous risks because they haven’t learn how to differentiate.

Just as falling is a necessary part of learning to walk, learning to cope with failure is a necessary part of learning. Allow  kids to take risks  and fail when they are young and the stakes are lower.  Teach kids to replace “I failed” with “I learned.”


Related Posts:

Four leadership lessons for kids

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 Wyatt Learns about Good Manners

Wyatt is always wondering about something and lately it is how to get his friend, Max to change his bossy ways.  What can he do?  Join Wyatt as he considers some rather unusual options until he finally discovers that a heart to heart talk with Max can create a new friendship with an old friend. Wyatt_the_Wonder_Dog_Cover_Manners_Kindle

Wyatt the Wonder Dog: Learns About Good Manners


DISCover Your Personality Style

Good counselors and educators do things well.

Great counselors teach and inspire others to do things well.

This month I was at the Kentucky School Counselor Conference in Lexington, Kentucky (shout out to all the GREAT counselors that I met there), where I taught a session on understanding personality style and working in your strengths. One of the advantages of training counselors in DISC personality is the enthusiasm that they bring to the session.  DISC training adds an innovative and creative tool to the counselor toolbox.

Not familiar with DISC personality training?  Here are the basics:

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

Why DISC works

There are several reasons why the DISC is a good fit for anyone working with children.  Here are some of the reasons that as a certified DISC trainer, I love sharing this with counselors, educators and parents.

  • DISC is a great tool because it is easy to understand.  This means that counselors can quickly learn the basic four personality styles and share them with parents, students and educators on their team.  Unlike some personality assessments that take the equivalent of a college degree to understand, DISC can be taught in a quick one time session.
  • DISC is a great tool because it is practical and immediately applicable.  Most participants in my sessions not only quickly understand how it works but they begin sharing insights about themselves and other participants while we are still in the session.  They also gain insight into interactions with coworkers, family members and friends.
  • DISC is a great tool because it transforms relationships.  When you learn the personality styles, you don’t just understand yourself better, you also begin to understand and celebrate all the other personality styles around you.  It helps you encourage leadership traits (which show up differently for the different styles) and you learn how to motivate each different style by working in their unique strengths and interests.

If you aren’t familiar with DISC personality assessment, I hope I’ve piqued your curiosity.  Similar to the growth mindset work that Carol Dweck has done, DISC encourages an openness to learning from failure as well as success.  It celebrates our differences and encourages us to focus on and develop our strengths.

Interested in learning more about your personality style?  You can take an online assessment on this website.  I’ll even do an interpretation for you to help you make sense of the information.  Check out the sidebar on for more information.

Want to learn how understanding personality can transform your perspective and relationships?  Check out these additional articles on DISC and children:

Personality Style and Motivation

Celebrate Your Child’s Unique Voice

Parenting and Teaching the High Energy Child


Parenting with Heart: Understanding your Child’s Personality Style

Do you sometimes feel that your children are speaking a different language?  Do you wonder how to motivate and inspire them?  In this ebook you will D-I-S-Cover your own personality style and how to speak the language of other personality styles to create a winning  environment in all the seasons of your family’s life. parentingheart Click on the link below to purchase the ebook: Parenting with Heart: Understanding Personality Style

Teaching with Heart:  Understanding Personality Style

Do you sometimes feel that students at your school are speaking a different language?  Do you wonder how to motivate and inspire them?  In this ebook you will D-I-S-Cover your own personality style and learn to work in the strengths of each personality by recognizing the secret fuel and environmental needs for each.  Understanding the personality styles of students can revolutionize how you interact and lead in the classroom! teachingdiscover

 Click on the link below to purchase the ebook:

Teaching with Heart: Understanding Personality Styles


Interested in having a DISC training come to your school?  Get more information here: