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Tuesdays with Jane Kise: Helping Parents Assume the Best

Do you ever feel like the pressure is on to be a perfect parent? Whether it’s all the “expert advice” in the headlines, one-upmanship on the soccer sidelines, or dire warnings about autism and attention–deficit disorder, it’s easy to assume the worst when children misbehave. Instead, try using Kidtelligent  “Assume The Best.”

You see, the theory that Kidtelligent uses, personality type, describes normal differences among normal people. Chances are, your child is not Kidtelligent type that you are. If that’s the case, what’s normal for them may be frustrating, infuriating, or even exhausting to you.

Let’s take a look at just one dimension of these differences––how we’re energized. About half of all children are energized by external sources. They need action and interaction. The other half are energized by internal sources. They need time alone and activities that allow them to reflect. This has nothing to do with shyness or the number of friends that they have. Instead, it’s about what revs them up and what wears them out.

How can you tell your child’s source of energy? Watch them. Do they reach out or pull in?  I have one of each. My son is “Internal” while my daughter is “External” (note that this goes against gender stereotypes––using the Kidtelligent system will give you far greater insights into your children’s motivations than gender alone).

  • My son’s first word was “hi” while my daughter’s first word was “bye”.
  • When I would pick them up from preschool, my daughter would ask, “Where are we going next?” My son would ask, “When we getting home?”
  • If it was a day for play dates, my son would happily play alone if his two or three best friends weren’t available. In contrast, my daughter would call through the school phone book to find someone to play with––anyone was better than no one.
  • My son was content with one or two after–school programs a week. My daughter wanted something to do every day.

Now think about how your child’s style compares with yours. Picture an “External” child after a long day in a quiet school classroom. Now picture mom or dad with an “Internal” style after a long, busy day at the office. Parent wants quiet, child wants action. It’s a setup for disaster. It’s easy to think, ADHD, or to demand, “Do your homework quietly at the table. Now!” when the child truly can’t sit still anymore! And of course, the needs can be reversed. An “External” parent might assume the child will be interested in the errands that need to be run after school or day care. True for some,  dragging, whining, or even a tantrum for others.

An amazing number of misunderstandings––and problems––can result from misunderstanding ourselves and our children on this difference alone. Kidtelligent provides parenting advice for each of the eight Kidtelligent types that are “External” and the eight that are “Internal.”

 Bottom line: When your child can’t sit still, or is crabby after a long day at school, or asks for a play date, or begs to not go to an activity, or doesn’t seem to be able to read silently for more than 5 minutes at a time, assume the best instead of the worst. You two may just be wired differently.

By Jane Kise, Ed.D. – Educational Advisor and Consultant
Jane will be writing an insightful post every Tuesday for Kidtelligent. Jane is an educational consultant, specializing in teambuilding, coaching, and school staff development. She is also the coauthor of more than 20 books. Jane’s website  is http://www.edcoaching.com/