Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Lions...and Otters...and Beavers...Oh My!

Yesterday, I called my friend Lauren on the phone. Mind you, I didn't get to speak to her on the phone until about two hours later. However, I did get to listen to little Lion girl and Otter boy argue each with a phone extension in their hand. That was fun. But after I got over my frustration that I wasn't ever going to talk to Lauren, I sat back and enjoyed the show. I found their interaction a perfect example of siblings of these different animal types trying to communicate. It also reminded me how birth order and gender roles can often affect these types as well.

The Lion girl is a little more than a year younger than the Otter boy. But that didn't stop her from attempting to dominate their interaction. She was the first to pick up the phone.

Lion: Hello
Coachmom: Hi, Lion. It's Aunt Chris. Is your Mom there?
Lion: Yes, she is in her room.
[I forgot. She's very literal. You must always ask the next question first to cut down time.]
Coachmom: Thank you. Well, can I speak to her?
Lion: I am on the corded phone.
Coachmom: Well, can you get the other phone and go get her?
Lion: Sigh. Just a minute. OTTER!
Otter: Leave me alone LION! I am playing a game.
Lion: OTTER! Pick up the extension phone. Right now!!!
Otter: Why? Liiion. I don't have to.
[about this point I am about to jump through the phone and strangle them both!]
Lion: OTTER! Pick up the extension. Push the talk button. Lay down the phone on the counter. Do not hang it up again. I will come downstairs and get it from you!
[This is good. We are getting somewhere. Of course, I would think so, because I am a Lion.]
Otter: FINE!
Lion: Good!
[Dial tone....]

Interestingly, I used to think that your first born would automatically be your driven child or your perfectionist child. But this is why I like these personality profiles. You begin to see that there are many types of driven people. A Beaver is a perfectionist (and not perfectionistic, because that is not a word and they will find it on their test) who is on the quieter side. A Lion is driven to accomplish things and an extravert.

There is a birth order theory. It is worth investigating is your quest to discover more about your child. More and more people have told me that their families do not fit this mold. There is a variables page that can explain why this is true. My family did not fit into this mold either, so don't feel bad. But do look at it and see if it is helpful to you.

It's also important to note that contrary to popular opinion, girls and boys, men and women are different. Gasp! It's true. And not just for the obvious reason. There are many things that make them different and this will show up in the way they react to things as well. Anybody who tells you that boys and girls will react the same either never had a child of each gender or is in denial. Work as hard as you like to try to condition them to be the same, they are different.

My husband's commentary on my personality profile was a perfect example of this. Somebody pointed out that I was a Lion. He said, "No, she is a Lioness. Have you ever seen a lion? They are lazy, but a lioness works hard. A lioness is the hunter. The lion just sits around waiting to be fed." I thought that was funny.

One final comment on these personality profiles is do not use them exclusively. Do not put your child in a box because of them. Your child will exhibit unique traits that you will need to take time to get to know. This is a great starting place, because they will enjoy that you are trying to get to know them. But honestly, this is still all surface level. You will need to understand more about them and their motivations to really understand their behavior.

A perfect example exhibited itself in our family on Monday. Tutone is the type of kid that you would think based on his personality profile is an extravert. He used to be very introverted. He would be drained to be around people. That's how you know if you are introverted or extraverted. But at some point that changed. Now, he acts very brave, when everyone else is around. If it's just us, he never wants to try anything. He learns everything in front of a crowd. I believe he will be the guy who dies doing something that started with, "Hey dude! Hold my beer. Watch this!" Monday, he decided it would be a great idea to do a back flip off of a trampoline. Unfortunately, he didn't tell us until he started to feel sick on Tuesday. He's fine though, just a mild concussion.

On the other hand, there is Super. His personality profile shows that he would be introverted. But honestly, both my kids are extraverted. Being near people winds them up, that's how I know. It's just that he has more traits that put him on the introverted side of the personality profile. He is a Golden Retriever-Beaver. I am a Lion-Otter. But here is something he does just like I do. He will try anything alone, with nobody watching. He wants to make his mistakes and learn from them without an audience. I feel the same way. Call it pride if you want, but I'd rather figure it out first before I make a fool out of myself.

The point is that nobody should be put into a box. That's why there are so many choices for tests. Use as many of them as your child will allow you to. Most kids and youth I have met are perfectly willing to allow you the time to find out about them. You can tell them, "It's all about you!" Paint a picture of your child, your unique creation. Maybe while you are doing this, you will learn more about yourself in the process. And maybe, just maybe, you will start to learn enough about how to communicate better with them the next time something starts to go wrong.

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