Monday, March 23, 2009

No, really? Who IS this kid?

After all this posting about who your child is not, why don't we find out more about this person with whom you have blessed? There are many "tests" out there that will help you find out things that you need to know about your child. In many cases, if your child is now a pre-teen, or teenager, they have changed drastically from the child you once knew. So if you are saying to yourself, "Oh, I did that already," but it has been five years ago or's time to do it again.

Some tests that I have found extremely helpful in learning who my kids are...

Learning styles tests

These are important to communication and not just teaching. Why? The fact is they are the same thing. Most of the time when you are "communicating" with your child, you are really trying to teach them something or at least, that should be the goal!

Let's say that your child is a visual learner and you are constantly explaining things to him using lots and lots of words. Good luck with that. People who are visual learners generally do better if they see a diagram of something or if they watch someone demonstrate what they mean. On the plus side, these are usually the kids who can find things that are lost or will go right back to where they left something, that is...unless someone moved it. That's because they can "see" it in their minds. What if your child is a kinesthetic learner? You could explain until you are blue in the face, but until they start to do something themselves, they are never going to learn. Trust me. I have one.

Also, remember how someone sends a message is not necessarily how someone receives it. For example, both people in my house who are the biggest visual learners...yeah, we are the biggest talkers. So it would be better I guess if we were surrounded by auditory learners, right? But we sure aren't made that way ourselves!

I highly recommend the book, "Discover Your Child's Learning Style" by Mariaemma Wills and Victoria Hodson. Not only does it have a test to determin your child's learning style, but also explains the different styles, and how to work with children with them.

Personality Profiles

There are many different types of personality profiles.
Try to steer away from ones that make determinations based on silly things such as your favorite color. Also, definitely stay away from profiles that emphasize one personality as better than another. The point of the test is to help each child (and you) know their strengths and weaknesses. Incidentally, it would be good for you to know your own as well! If your personality is one that is in contrast with your child's, you need to understand that this is not something that is personal, nor is there a "right" or "wrong" way to be. There is a right and wrong way to act.

This is why we are spending time trying to find out how to communicate, so your child understands the difference between "butting heads" and "drawing boundaries". We all bring different gifts and talents to the party for a reason! Yet, we all have these faults we need to work on at the same time. Try to find out what your child and yours will before the ruckus starts. It will save you a bunch of grief.

I recommend the Gary Smalley "animal" personality test, even most people who cannot stand someone putting them into a box, can relate to being an animal. Of course, like everything else, it's a generalization. Most people who I know seemed to enjoy it. I'm sure after you see the test, you won't need me to tell you that I am a Lion-Otter (Lion for work, Otter the rest). I really loved my friend Jamie's reaction when he saw the test. He said, "They don't have a category for Weasel." Hopefully, your child won't need that category.

Another choice is the old stand-by -- the Myers Briggs Test. My husband is not a big fan of Carl Jung, however we knew that anyway because his personality profile told us that he wouldn't be.

Love Language

Finally, and not because it is least, but because I want it to stick in your mind, is the Love Language. What is your child's Love Language? There are five of them. We have a tendancy to speak to each other in our own love language instead of the one that the other person can hear. Over the years, we may begin to speak our spouse's love language because we learn their love language. But we need to understand that children do not even know that there is such a thing as a love language. Unfortunately, if we do not speak our child's love language, they totally miss the fact that we love them, especially during those trying teenage years. Meanwhile, we scratch our heads and say, "How can they not know that we love them?" But the reason is because we are not speaking to them in their language. There are five languages - words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch.

This is one my favorite series of this type of non-fiction (the other I will talk about in another post). "The 5 Love Languages of Teenagers" is a must read for any mother, whether you have a teenager or soon will!

That's great! I read all these books. I administered all these tests. Now what?

Now, let's say you have a Lion-Otter, who learns by doing things, and needs to be shown love by many words of affirmation, but shows love by lots of physical touch. Meanwhile you also have a Golden Retriever-Beaver, who learns by seeing everything, who needs lots of words of affirmation, but shows love by acts of service. Well, then you would be insane like me! So let's not go there. No, I'm kidding, sort of. That's what you have to figure out.

Slowly once you learn these things you start to learn what to say and what not to say, what to do and what not to do. Watch their body language. Do you see the wall go up, when you start to do or say something? Well, then try to do something to lower it again. Usually, your child will have a "tell" that says, "I'm no longer listening to you." Stop then. There really is no point.

Correction needs to be to correct. It does you absolutely no good if they stop being in a receive mode. It may make you feel better to "vent", but it's not constructive!

So, that's the first thing to start "experimenting" with...and that's the real reason why we took the time to do these tests. Find out how you can break through that wall and communicate with your child. Look for the signs that you are getting through and look for the "tell" of the wall.

God bless! Peace be with you and your household!

No comments: