First let’s define mental toughness. For our purposes mental toughness is being able to cope with and adapt to the challenges of life. We already know from the Bible that we will have trouble. So we are preparing our children for the inevitable. We want our kids to be strong in the Lord. We don’t want them to crumble at the first sign of adversity. I say that we can encourage mental toughness because I don’t believe this is a formal subject for which a curriculum or even a lecture is appropriate. Instead we have to encourage it as we live.How can we do that?
Allow children to experience natural consequences
I believe the first way we can encourage mental toughness in our children is to allow them to experience the natural consequences of their actions. As tenderhearted mothers, we often cringe at the potential for our children to suffer. We don’t want them to know the pain of their choices and would prefer to give them second and third and fourth chances. The problem, of course, is that children will never learn to make better choices if we shield them from the natural consequences.
I have an example for you. On multiple occasions my children have signed up to participate in things by their own choice. Later on, this same child of mine has decided that they didn’t feel like continuing to participate or participating on a certain day. They weren’t concerned that their teammates and coach or activity organizer was depending on them. The natural consequence is that I refused to shield them from was having to do something that they no longer wanted to do. Of course, as I allowed my kids to experience this type of natural consequence, I was also teaching them Christian character. They learn loyalty and faithfulness and commitment.
Anytime our children make a choice, there will be consequences, both positive and negative. It’s important that we refuse to protect them from the negative consequences unless they are truly destructive. You will have to pray and use your parental discernment about which natural consequences your child should have to endure. Our decision should always be loving and never abusive. But always keep in mind that the difficult consequences your children face will make them stronger.
Encourage children to take responsibility
The second way we can encourage mental toughness in our children is by insisting they take personal responsibility. A refusal to take responsibility for our own choices and mistakes goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden. We shouldn’t panic if our child has a propensity to shift blame to others, because it is the human condition. However, we should not allow our children to shift blame without rebuke. Even when someone else’s choice or the circumstances were a contributor, our children need to take responsibility for their part in a bad situation. Did your child participate in the appearance of evil? Did your child stand by as someone else did something wrong?
Encouraging your child to take personal responsibility is an easy thing to do when it comes to team sports. If your child has the habit of blaming other players, the coach, or the conditions for their errors, ask your child to own up to their mistakes. At the same time, it’s important to teach children that admitting to mistakes does not mean they are unloved or without value. Some children believe that if they admit to doing wrong, it means they are worthless. In fact, some adults believe this as well and it explains why many people refuse to apologize. Instead, remind your child that everyone makes mistakes. And not just mistakes, but sinful choices. God has already offered us the solution for this. Our sins do not keep us out of fellowship with him or out of fellowship with one another if we admit them and ask for forgiveness. This is likely a lesson that will need to be repeated multiple times.
Teach children to feel the fear and do it anyway
The third way we can encourage mental toughness is to teach our kids to feel the fear and do it anyway. Anxiety is very uncomfortable. It makes sense that we as parents don’t want our kids to feel uncomfortable. This is particularly the case if we have our own anxieties. But keeping our kids from feeling the fear and doing it anyway will make the fear grow bigger. You may want to listen to the episode I did on anxious homeschoolers.
Anxiety that isn’t challenged will spread to more and more situations. You may think that it is better not to have your child do the public speaking assignments for your co-op. But soon your child will be balking at other assignments that tap into his social anxiety. You will be doing your child a great service to encourage your child to feel the fear and do it anyway.
In order to do that, we have to give our kids the tools they need to cope with anxiety. Those tools will likely include meditation on Scripture that relates to trusting God, taking deep breaths, relaxation training, and mental imagery in which your child practices relaxation. Our kids need to know that avoiding anxiety will make it worse.
Teach children how to control their thoughts
Related to encouraging our kids to confront their fears is the truth that we are capable of controlling our thoughts. As parents, we want to discuss with our children the importance of taking thoughts captive. Many thoughts will come to us briefly that are not within our control. But once we have the thought, we are capable of controlling it. The Bible tells us to take every thought captive and to bring it into obedience to Christ. We can do this or we wouldn’t be given this directive. We can also renew our minds. I encourage you to read about my post on the topic.
We do not have to accept the thoughts we have that are lies. Sometimes writing those thoughts down enables us to combat them with the truth more easily. The mental battle our children will have when dealing with challenging circumstances is the most important one. When our child believes a lie about her circumstances she is likely to respond with a negative emotion, which will in turn affect her behavior. Mental toughness is developed by being a disciplined thinker. For more on controlling thinking, read about black-and-white thinking in your homeschool.
The fifth important way we can encourage mental toughness in our children is to model it. If we refuse to accept the natural consequences of our choices, if we refuse to accept personal responsibility for our behavior, if we refuse to feel the fear and do it anyway, and if we persist in thinking and meditating on lies, our children will not develop the mental toughness that will be such an asset to them in the future. We must work on our own mental toughness in this regard. Furthermore, we have to be talking with our children about the challenges we are dealing with. Talk with them about the situation with as much detail as is appropriate for your children’s ages, and then talk about the strategies you are using to cope. Modeling is incredibly powerful. So many people will share examples of their parents’ mental toughness once they are adults and are reminiscing on their lives. We want them to have plenty of examples of mental toughness to hold onto.
Provide your children with mental toughness role models
Along with modeling, we want to give our children access to other role models. This suggestion is one that we can easily incorporate into our formal homeschooling. I love exposing my children to missionary biographies and Christian historical biographies that demonstrate mental toughness. Reading about men and women who suffer unjustly, rely on their God, and bravely serve despite trying times will instill a desire for mental toughness and a framework for pursuing it for our kids. I love YWAM biographies for this purpose, but books about Esther Kim, Samuel Morris, and Winston Churchill are more of my favorites for giving kids mental toughness role models.
To conclude, I want to give you a picture of the importance of mental toughness. You’ve likely heard the story of the person who wanted to help a butterfly that was struggling to emerge from its chrysalis. The person removed the chrysalis and the butterfly died. The struggle to emerge from the chrysalis is what provides the butterfly with the strength to live. In the same way, we do not want to prematurely remove the struggle from our children’s lives. Our kids are going to be dealing with difficult circumstances, challenging people, and injustice in the future. Like arrows in our quiver, we want them to be sharp enough to wage battle against the enemy in the years to come.
How do you encourage mental toughness in your kids?
When I began homeschooling, I immediately discovered that disciplining my children was central to my homeschooling success. If I couldn’t get them to obey me, I couldn’t teach them. Even though I’m a psychologist, I spent a lot of time reading about how to discipline. I’ve learned a lot over the years and I want to share some principles with you that can save you time as a new homeschooler.
You may have read that there are three basic approaches to parenting. There is the authoritative approach. This is the most balanced, healthy style. You’re the authority in your child’s life, but you extend plenty of grace. You enjoy your children and they love you as well as respect you. There is also the authoritarian approach. This style takes authority and commands very seriously. Swift obedience is valued above relationship. Demands for obedience are often accompanied by anger and harsh punishments for failure to comply. This approach can lead to children who obey outwardly but inwardly burn with resentment. The authoritarian approach puts parental demands above the child’s needs. Finally, there is the passive approach. The passive approach also puts the parent’s needs ahead of the child’s. In this style, the parent does not demand obedience or respect because discipline is too much work. The parent doesn’t provide consequences for misbehavior. The child feels unloved and is ill equipped to function in a society with other authority figures.
I doubt that you would put yourself squarely in either of the latter two categories. Instead, most of us see ourselves as authoritative parents. However, when we are under stress, tired, or overwhelmed, we will tend to revert to one of the less functional parenting approaches or both.
How We Can Use a Functional Parenting Approach Even Under Stress
The key to being a positive parent even when we’re hangry, wiped out, or PMSing is to plan ahead. We need to know our triggers and have a response ready.
Which misbehaviors get to you the most? Is it acting out in a public place? Is it not picking up after you’ve asked? Is it fighting? Make note of these.
Then consider which situations lead you to revert to an authoritarian or passive style. Is it when you’re short on sleep? When you’ve had no time away from the kids? When you’re running late? You’ll also want to make note of these situations.
First, decide with your spouse (if you’re married) what your family rules are. It’s a good idea to have your rules posted and to review them with your children regularly. Next, decide which consequences you will use for violations of these rules. Consider these.
Spanking. This is most effective for outright defiance or blatant disrespect in young children. However, avoid physical punishment if you are prone to anger OR if you have a child prone to anger. There are other forms of discipline that are more effective in this case.
Scary persona. Giving your child the eagle eye or using a certain tone of voice is enough to correct misbehavior with some children in some situations.
Privilege levels. You can keep track of the level of privileges your child is using a cork board and a pin, for example. This system requires an understood and achievable means for a child to return to higher privilege level. Using this approach with multiple children can be challenging.
Refuse requests. As described in How to Have a New Kid by Friday by Kevin Leman, refuse to comply with your child’s next request after misbehavior. For example, “You may not have a snack.” “Why?” “Because you wouldn’t come inside when I called you.” The advantage of this approach is it requires no pre-planning and can be very effective.
Guided obedience. When young children refuse or are slow to pick up toys or go up to bed, guide them with your hands (without anger) until they are complying on their own. Thank them for obeying, even though you are providing the guidance.
Time out. Putting a child in a place where there is no opportunity for reinforcement (no access to toys, books, or interaction with others) for one minute for each year of their age is an effective strategy for many children. The same can be done with a toy that isn’t being used properly or is being fought over.
Put fighting children in close quarters. Insist that siblings who are fighting stay in a small room (like a bathroom) until they can stop quarreling. Insisting that the squabblers wear a single large shirt, hug, or hold hands until they stop serves the same purpose.
Fines. If you give your children an allowance or earnings for chores, you can discipline misbehavior with a fine. Keeping track of your child’s money on an app on your phone makes it easy to fine wherever you are.
Confinement. A young child who doesn’t like to be restricted can be seated in your lap with his back to you. Firmly hold his right arm with your left hand and vice versa for a minute for each year of age. Do not speak to your child after explaining what the misbehavior was, but require him to remain in your lap.
Make note of which approach you will be using. The simpler the better.
The final step in avoiding an unhealthy parenting style is to prevent the situations that lead you to adopt them. If you know lack of sleep is a problem, make sleep a priority. If your sleep deficit is unavoidable, avoid other stressors that will put you over the edge. Get a nap. Tell your children that you’re especially tired and need their help and definitely ask another adult to help you. Eliminate activities that contribute to stress and plan ahead so you can be at your best. Lay out shoes the night before and leave earlier than you need to for actiities. Review the rules with your children before you go to public places. For example, “If you beg for something in the store, we will leave immediately.” Then follow through.
Improving your parenting approach is a lifetime activity. Give yourself lots of grace for making mistakes! Pray, read Scripture, and talk to other parents about their struggles. You’ll find you’re in good company. But any effort you make to improve your parenting approach will pay off in improving your homeschool.
Which parenting approach do you revert to when you’re stressed? What misbehaviors are most likely to lead to that? What discipline strategy would you like to try going forward? Comment and let me know.
What does the Bible say about being a homeschooling mother? I’m surprised how much of an example we have in the Proverbs 31 woman. Let’s pick up where we left off after part 1, which you can read here.
Verse 17 says that she sets about her work vigorously.
There it is again, her excellent work ethic. But we read that she also manages to keep her arms strong. My grandmother, in baking goods for an area bakery, had to have strong arms from kneading dough. No doubt she kept fit working in the garden as well. Today we have so many modern servants that it’s harder to stay strong by doing our everyday work. That’s why we have to be intentional about getting the exercise we need. Exercise in the form of walking, jogging, or any of a number of aerobic classes can keep our heart strong and our weight down. But we also need to keep our strength up. Strength training helps to prevent osteoporosis, keeps us looking fit and younger, and allows us to continue caring for our grandchildren well into our 70s. For more on how we can be strong moms, read my guest post on The Musings of Mum.
Verse 18 says that she sees her trading is profitable.
She is managing her business and also household expenses. We too want to be certain that we are good stewards of everything God has given to us.
Her lamp does not go out at night.
The verse continues with what I believe is the most misunderstood aspect of the Proverbs 31 woman. The verse says that her lamp does not go out at night. Real women like us can read these verses and think that in order to be a Proverbs 31 homeschooling mom, we must get up at dawn and stay up past midnight. Instead, I believe we learn here that keeping lamps lit requires proper planning.
Matthew 25 recounts the parable of the ten virgins.
“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.2 Five of them were foolish and five were wise.3 The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them.4 The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps.5 The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.6 “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’7 “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps.8 The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’9 “‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’10 “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.11 “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’12 “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’13 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.
The Proverbs 31 woman has planned ahead and has enough oil to keep her lamps burning. The lesson we can take from this is that we do not want to be caught unprepared. If we plan ahead, we don’t have to discover the night before the Christmas pageant at church that none of the stores in our area have black pants in our boys’ size. Planning ahead saves our time, our money, and our sanity. Being prepared and not burning the candle at both ends is what I believe this verse is about. I do not believe that God would suggest we skimp on sleep when Jesus Himself slept whenever He felt the need. The Proverbs 31 woman’s lamp is also lit because she is prepared for the Lord’s return. We can keep the lamp of our hearts burning as we wait for Him as well.
In verse 19, we find a Proverbs 31 woman spinning again. It reads, “In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers.”
What stands out to me from this verse is the emphasis on her hand. It is tempting as homeschooling moms to want to delegate as much as possible. I’m all for delegation! But there are some tasks that we ought to take responsibility for ourselves. I believe training our children the faith is one of those. I believe that teaching our children how to live in an increasingly unChristian culture is also our responsibility. We can have pastors and youth leaders and Christian teachers come alongside us to help, but our hands have to be in the business of training our children.
The next verse says that she opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.
This verse convicts me because much of the charitable work I do is outside my children’s awareness. We want to make sure our children know and participate in giving directly to needy people. The responsibility of offering hospitality is also hinted at here. If we do not make the sacrifice of honoring and serving guests in our home, we are missing an opportunity that would bless us and most certainly would bless our children.
When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
In verse 21 review we read once again that the Proverbs 31 woman is prepared. She’s not only prepared for the challenges she expects, but those she doesn’t necessarily expect. We don’t want to be caught unprepared for difficulties whether those are financial or otherwise. We want to be ready. A homeschooling mom I know had two hours to remove belongings before a fire consumed her apartment building. In an emergency like that, would you be able to retrieve your most valued possessions? If not, this preparation is something we want to do to become more like the Proverbs 31 woman.
Verse 22 says she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
Here’s how I read that: She looks good. Making an effort to look good brings honor to her husband. This does not mean we have to wear expensive designer clothes. But it could mean that we make an effort to look as good for our spouse as we would for church or an important meeting. The side benefit of this is the better we look, the better we tend to feel. I used to wear sweatpants, my hair in a ponytail, and no makeup. Makeup isn’t the issue, so don’t let that hold you up. I feel better wearing some makeup; other women don’t. The key is to feel good about how you look. The more confident we feel, the more attractive we will be to our mate.
Verse 23 tells us her husband is respected.
At that time, and even still today, his respectability was somewhat dependent upon his wife’s character.
Verse 24 tells us that the Proverbs 31 woman has another business.
This business may be where she got the funds to start her vineyard. It can be intimidating to think about a woman who has multiple irons in the fire, but I find it exciting. This woman is held up as a model for godly women. If you have the desire to do something other than homeschool, I believe God honors that desire. We each have different capacities, depending on our families and our giftings. It seems to me that the Proverbs 31 woman was so earnest in her work and care for her family that she didn’t have time to compare herself to anyone else. Had her business gotten in the way of caring for her family, no doubt she would have made some changes.
She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.
Verse 25 tells us once again that she is confident about the future.
Verse 26 tells us that when she speaks, she speaks with wisdom and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
She doesn’t say idle words. They are words meant to build up. They are words of wisdom that she believes are vital to her children and most likely other women she mentors. This verse is also very convicting to me because my words are often careless. They are often not words that build up and they are sometimes foolish. As we seek to teach our children, let us ask ourselves if what we are teaching is wise and will build them up for their walk with the Lord.
Verse 27 says she watches over the affairs of her household.
Have you ever been guilty, as I have, of not watching over the affairs of your household? Have you discovered like I once did that work that was marked complete in the student planner wasn’t actually done? Have you gone so long without checking on chores that you’re horrified to see the state of your child’s room or the bathroom that is your child’s responsibility? Maybe it’s just me. Watching over the affairs of our household is what will give our husbands confidence in us. My husband, in particular, gets upset when the kids’ bathroom is a mess. I have been more intentional about checking the state of the bathroom daily. I’m also checking my children’s work weekly.
Verse 28 says her children arise and call her blessed.
Some of us homeschooling moms feel a pang of longing when we hear those words because our children are arising and complaining and quarreling instead. My belief is that the Proverbs 31 woman demands respect and gratitude from her children. It is something that I demand from mine. I feel no guilt over telling my children the sacrifice I have made to homeschool them. But even so, most children have to mature before they recognize how blessed they have been to have a devoted homeschooling mother. Hang in there, mom. The blessing is coming.
I love verses 30 and 31. In verse 30 we read that a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Our faith, our trust in God, and our obedience to Him are a crowning glory. In our culture, we don’t typically receive the honor described here.
The next verse says that her works are honored at the city gate.
Our culture honors money, beauty, and prestige more than a faithful wife and mother. Even though we may suffer the negative remarks of those who don’t believe in homeschooling, I believe we will one day be honored for our work. I believe that homeschooling is an incredibly powerful way that God uses to raise up godly men and women for the next generation. I also believe that the city gate in which we will be honored is a heavenly one. What we suffer now in our hard work and our trials isn’t worth comparing to the glory we will experience one day.
To conclude our study, I believe that we are Proverbs 31 homeschooling moms if we believe we are. Begin each day considering what you did the day before that is consistent with your identity as this godly woman. Consider how you will earnestly take on your work as a Proverbs 31 homeschooling mom today. Know that we can do nothing apart from Him. But in His strength, we can be more than we ever imagined.
Which of these characteristics of a Proverbs 31 homeschool mom are you already making progress on?
Conflicts involving our children are draining, aren’t they? Last week, I discussed how teaching our children personality and gender differences can help them manage and even avoid conflict. This week I’d like to finish the acronym BLT.
We learn by listening and not assuming that we know what other people are thinking.
What does God say about listening versus assuming? In James 1:19 we read, My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. Proverbs 15:1 reads, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
When we are listening and not assuming, we will ask ourselves, “Do I really know someone else’s motives when I’m not sure of my own?” How many times have we asked a child why they did something and they tell us they don’t know? How many times have we done something and we have no idea why we have behaved that way? I came to understand how important it is not to assume others’ motives when I read the book How to Stop the Pain by Dr. James Richards. The problem with assuming others’ motives is we typically ascribe very negative motives to others and very positive motives to ourselves. Dr. Richards argues that we can stop the emotional pain of our assumptions by just refusing to make them and listening instead.
We want to listen to learn. When we listen well, we not only understand another person’s perspective, our feelings toward them change. I anticipated getting together with someone whose values and beliefs are in complete opposition to mine. I was worried that conflict would ruin our time together. I decided that I wouldn’t share any of my own beliefs but would only ask questions about herss. In the end we had an incredible visit. She not only felt very positively toward me, but I found myself feeling great about her as well.
Right to Speak
But listening is very hard when you’re already in conflict. I used a technique called Right to Speak all the time when I was practicing as a clinical psychologist. The Right to Speak involves one person speaking for a limited period of time. When you’re dealing with children, that period of time may be one minute. After one child talks about their grievances and feelings, the other child must ask questions to get three yes answers from the speaker. The listening child should restate what the speaker has said and ask if that’s what was said. Asking inflammatory questions such as, “Did you take my toy without permission?” is unlikely to get a yes answer as are negative comments. To make Right to Speak easier for younger children, you can give the speaking child three quarters. Each time the speaker answers yes to a question, he or she can hand a quarter to the listener. After three yes answers have been given, the children switch roles. You may very likely have to give an example question and redirect children who are having trouble formulating questions to get yes answers.
After we listen it’s our turn to talk. That’s what the T stands for in BLT. But we have to choose assertiveness over aggressiveness when we speak. Aggressiveness maybe verbal or nonverbal. Nonverbal aggressiveness is better known as passive aggressiveness. Yelling and physical expressions of anger are not the only destructive forms of aggression.
What does God say about assertiveness versus aggressiveness? Romans 12:18 says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Ephesians 4:29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
Your child should ask herself is if she is speaking to improve the relationship or to get revenge. Is there ever a time not to speak to improve the relationship? Yes, when dealing with a chronically difficult person it may be best not to respond. But it is never okay to seek revenge.
I feel…when you…and I need.
We get confused about what assertiveness is. We think it’s demanding that our needs be met. Instead, we can use this formula to teach our children assertiveness. I feel…when you…and I need. We begin with I feel. Use emotional words. Discourage your children from using the word bad.
when you… This is when your child explains what the other person did that was upsetting to them. Encourage your child to limit this to present circumstances and avoid the words always and never.
and I need… This is where your child expresses what he or she needs from the other person. Make sure your children look at the person to whom they’re speaking. It’s very important that a child who has been offended can be seen by the offender. The offender often has no idea how hurtful words or actions have been.
Create a Kindness Contract
Aggressive talk leads to many, many conflicts. Discuss with your kids what kinds of words bother them. Kids know which buttons to push, don’t they? I have created a Kindness Contract that I use with my children. We have a list on our contract that includes all of the things that the kids can say or do that will lead to hurt feelings. If one of the children violates the contract, the other child who has been offended is to ask, “What did you say?” This is to alert the aggressive child that they are in violation of the contract. Sometimes a child who is prompted in this way will not say, “I meant to say (with something more appropriate)”, “I take it back”, or “I’m sorry.” In that situation it is a good idea to prompt the child with, “What did you mean to say?” The Kindness Contract also includes the communication you will agree to use as a family instead, such as regular compliments. Everyone in the family should sign this contract.
Teaching Conflict Resolution Skills with Story
That is the BLT method of conflict resolution: breathe, learn, and talk. Taken together with part one of this series, it’s a lot to remember to teach your child. I believe in the power of story to teach but the story needs to teach the right things. I haven’t created a conflict resolution curriculum, though I would love to. Instead, I focus my writing time on Grammar Galaxy, my language arts curriculum for elementary students. What I have done, however, is to add a story to Grammar Galaxy that teaches conflict resolution. The lesson includes the Kindness Contract. Click to request your copy for subscribers below:
I know I haven’t equipped you to resolve every conflict your kids will have, but I hope I have started you on the journey. Keep learning and keep teaching.
Which of these approaches will you teach first? Let me know in the comments.
I consider conflict resolution skills to be with one of the four R’s. We have reading, writing, ‘rithmetic, and resolution of conflict. Poor conflict resolution skills are the number one cause of divorce. They result in $359 billion in lost work hours. In fact, 25 to 40% of a manager’s time is spent on resolving conflict in the workplace.
I have had plenty of opportunities to teach these skills in my own family. I have five boys and one girl and my daughter has had more physical fights then all the rest put together. Go figure! Moms are the world’s best mediators, but we often do the work of mediation without teaching kids the concepts. Before I go any further I want to define conflict. I think of it in literary terms.
“Conflict is when someone stands in the way of getting what you want.”
I want to begin in this episode (which will be part one of two) to share with you the acronym we’ll be using: BLT. The BLT method of conflict resolution is breathe, learn, talk.
First breathe. This means stop and think. Calm down and think of the conflict in terms of win-win. Cain in the Bible is the first example of someone who thought in terms of win-lose. He thought only one of them could please God, when that wasn’t the case. We still make that mistake today. What does God say about win-win versus win-lose? In Philippians 2:3 – 4, He says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” In Matthew 5:9 we read, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”
When your kids stop to breathe, they should ask themselves this question: Do I want to be right or do I want to improve the relationship? You can coach them in the middle of a conflict by asking them this question as well. We’ve all been trained to seek compromise in an effort to achieve win-win. Compromise means both parties give up something and sometimes compromise is a great solution. But sometimes it isn’t the best one for win-win. Imagine that two people are fighting over one remaining orange. They compromise and cut it in half. One person is now able to make only a very small amount of orange juice and the other doesn’t have enough of the orange peel shavings to add to a dessert recipe. They could have both used one organge.
To help kids identify conflicts and win-win solutions, practice with books and movies. Every book and movie has a conflict to discuss. There aren’t always simple solutions, but it’s a great exercise. Some books and movies have a difficult person, which is a separate topic that I’m going to be writing a book about next year.
In order to resolve conflict, you also have to know whom you’re in conflict with. This is necessary for a win-win solution. We have to consider others’ needs.
Our culture says there aren’t true gender differences (and it’s true that they aren’t universal), but I think of men as wrenches and women as stethoscopes. Men want to quickly solve problems and women are most concerned with heart issues. For example, men’s number one marital complaint is nagging and complaining on the part of their wives, while women’s is not having their feelings validated. Men figure if they’ve discussed the problem, it’s solved, and women feel that if they haven’t come to a mutually beneficial solution that they need to keep bringing it up.
On one occasion, I told my husband that a friend had upset me. I wanted to talk out my feelings, but my husband told me just to stop talking to her. He then returned to reading the paper. It is possible to have both a solution and a time of relationship building, however. Fortunately, I know to say, “I’m not asking you to solve the problem, but to listen.”
Another gender difference is men’s desire for respect from their wives and women’s desire for love from their husbands. Often the conflict continues as both parties wait for the other to give them what they want. Of course, the conflict can be resolved in a win-win way if both husband and wife meet their spouse’s needs. Without understanding these gender differences, there can be no win-win solution. I already see these gender differences in the conflicts between my teens.
A second important difference between people is personality. I use Florence Littauer’s Personality Plus typology of four types instead of Myers-Briggs because it is much easier to remember. You only have four personalities to remember instead of 16 and it’s much easier for children to understand. The four personalities are Popular Sanguine, Powerful Choleric, Perfect Melancholy, and Peaceful Phlegmatic. I studied ornithology in college and I thought it made sense to choose birds to represent the personality types, especially because it could help my kids to remember them.
The first personality I’ll describe is the Popular Sanguine. I chose the peacock to represent the Popular Sanguine because the peacock is colorful, loud, and draws attention to itself. The Popular Sanguine also likes attention, tends to wear bright, colorful clothing, and can be loud. The Popular Sanguine is an extroverted talker. They like to have fun, and because cleaning and repetitive work isn’t fun, they’re disorganized. A person from the Bible who was a Popular Sanguine is Peter. He thought walking on water seemed like fun and often spoke without thinking.
The Popular Sanguine more than anything else wants approval and compliments. A single compliment is like eating one Pringles potato chip. It’s simply stokes the appetite for more. Criticizing the Popular Sanguine or keeping them from having fun will likely result in conflict.
The second personality I wanted to describe for you is the Powerful Choleric. I chose the blue jay to represent this personality. If you’ve ever seen a blue jay arrive at a birdfeeder, you see all the other birds scatter. They dominate the feeder. The Powerful Choleric is an ambitious personality, often referred to as Type A. They desire control of themselves and often of other people. They’re the most likely to have a hot temper. They generally believe they are right about things and are frustrated by lazy people. If you keep a Choleric from having control or are lax in your work, you are likely to have conflict with them. Like the Popular Sanguine, this personality is a social, extroverted type. The apostle Paul is an example of this personality in the Bible. He told Peter he was wrong and then wrote that he did.
The Perfect Melancholy is the third personality type I will discuss with you today, and this personality is represented by the Canada goose. This personality wants perfection. The type tends to be very organized and like the Canda goose, everything is in order. Because this personality wants perfection, they are often depressed. Interestingly, the Canada goose appears to be depressed upon losing its lifelong mate. This personality can be musically inclined. They also want people to be thoughtful and sensitive to their needs. This is an introverted personality who often conflicts with the Popular Sanguine. The Perfect Melancholy is often reluctant to give the Popular Sanguine compliments until they are perfect. And they often Popular Sanguines as being insensitive to them. Moses in the Bible was this personality type — a perfectionist prone to depression. He didn’t want to be in the limelight as God’s spokesperson or even the leader of the Israelites.
The final personality I’ll discuss today is the Peaceful Phlegmatic personality. I chose the turkey to represent this personality because everyone likes them. Everyone loves the Peaceful Phlegmatic. More than anything the Peaceful Phlegmatic wants peace. This type avoids conflict the most. This is an introverted, easy-going personality and not an ambitious personality. They tend to be easily satisfied with their lot in life and like easy work. As a result, they are often disrespected by Powerful Cholerics. Even though they don’t meet the demands of Powerful Cholerics, they want respect. If they don’t get respect, they can become passive-aggressive. Abraham was a Peaceful Phlegmatic. He preferred to let Pharoah have has wife rather than having a conflict over it.
Learning these personality differences has helped reduce conflict in my family. I used to assume that my husband was trying to make me miserable by controlling me. Eventually I learned that when he felt out of control in his work or other areas of his life, he proceeded to try to control me. Personality types have also helped me immensely in understanding and relating to my children. I honestly believed that one of my sons was depressed or obstinate when he described most of his activities as fine. My personality believes that fine is a bad thing. Our family has learned to understand one another. Teaching our children their personalities and the needs and wants of other personalities can drastically limit the amount of conflict they experience in dealing with other people.
I am going to end this episode on conflict resolution skills you must teach your children here and I will pick it up again next week. We will discuss the learn and talk aspects of the BLT method.
If you would like to take a questionnaire to help you determine your primary personality type or if you would like to have your children take one, try this PDF version. I would love to hear what your personality type is! I am primarily Popular Sanguine and secondarily Powerful Choleric
I received some stationery and was compensated for my time. All opinions are my own.
My husband and I have been married for 25 years this summer. I am also turning 50. These are milestone moments worth celebrating. We are having a Hawaiian luau at our home with 100 friends and family members. We honeymooned in Hawaii, so it seemed appropriate. I can’t wait! I didn’t think I needed printed invitations to make our celebration special, but I was wrong.
Benefits of Stationery Invitations for Your Milestone Moments
You can invite guests offline. These days it can be quick and easy to invite people to a celebration via email or Facebook. But not everyone uses Facebook or checks email regulary. I am not Facebook friends with a number of our invitees, nor did I have their email addresses. Having printed invitations allowed me to mail them and even to hand them to guests when I saw them.
You can set the tone for the event. The second problem with inviting people without a paper invitation is that it can make the celebration seem less special. When we invite people using stationery like the invitations I ordered from Basic Invite, the occasion seems that much more appealing. I was surprised by the number of men who seemed delighted to receive the paper invitation. They commented on how nice it was, colorful it was, and how much they were looking forward to coming.
You can provide your guests with an accessible reminder. If you’ve ever struggled to find a Facebook invite or email for an event like I have, you know how nice it is to have a stationery invitation to refer to. I keep them in a hanging file folder after I’ve RSVP’d to remind me of the address and any special notes, like whether it’s a suprise party or if I should bring something.
You provide your guests with a keepsake. Your printed invitation can be kept on the refrigerator or bulletin board to remind guests of a good time to look forward to. But stationery invitations, like photo or customizable birth announcements, are keepsakes that people use to remember your milestone moments long after they’ve passed. One of our guests has known about the party for a long time but requested a printed invitation anyway.
Why Basic Invite Stationery is a Good Option for Celebrating Your Milestone Moments
I was very impressed with the weight, quality, and colors of our Basic Invite invitations. I was impressed that the company sent extras, too! I was delighted that I didn’t have to lick or moisten the envelopes. They come with a piece you pull off to reveal the adhesive. I was also happy to see that I had the option of importing all my names and addresses to be printed on the envelopes for FREE!
Basic Invite offers almost unlimited color options. I loved the pre-selected color combinations of my invitation, but every single one was customizable. If you want a custom invitation for a baby shower, you don’t have to fret about how they’ll look after placing your order. You can request a custom sample with no stress!
Get Started With Basic Invite Stationery
Check the top of this page for the latest discount from Basic Invite and place your order for your invitations or announcements. Basic Invite will make your milestone moment that much more memorable.