Intro: Welcome to The Myers-Briggs Company Podcast, where we bring together thought leaders, psychologists, and personality experts from around the world to talk about work life, home life, and how to get the best from life.
[BACKGROUND MUSIC ENDS]
MS Summer (MS): Parenting isn't easy, especially when different personalities come into play. But ultimately, parenting is incredibly rewarding. Though have you ever considered how a tool like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator [MBTI] can be used to help you as a parent?
In this episode with Dr. Yvonne Nelson-Reid, we'll dive into how and when the MBTI assessment can be beneficial for families. MBTI personality type can help you better understand yourself and others, and affects your parenting style. And parenting children with different preferences from your own requires flexibility and open communication. But embracing these differences has the potential to create a more harmonious family environment – something nearly every parent, myself included, would welcome.
I'm thrilled today to have Dr. Yvonne Nelson-Reid on this episode because she is one of the leading experts on this subject. Dr. Yvonne Nelson-Reid is the Senior Development Associate at the Myers & Briggs Foundation, Editor and Lead Writer for the People Stripes website, and the lead on development for all MMTIC [Murphy-Meisgeier Type Indicator for Children] products, programs, and services.
People Stripes, a brand of Myers & Briggs Foundation, helps families and schools make the most of personality differences, and is home to the Murphy-Meisgeier Type Indicator for Children assessment. Yvonne is one of the faculty of the MBTI certification program and is an MBTI master practitioner and MMTIC professional and has worked with families using the MMTIC and the MBTI assessments for over 25 years.
Raising five children, teaching grade school, career coaching, and getting a PhD in depth psychology has taught Yvonne a great deal about relationships and the importance of communication. The MBTI and MMTIC instruments are her go-to tools for helping others understand differences and communicate more effectively. And all those qualifications are why she's on our podcast episode today. So welcome Yvonne.
Dr. Yvonne Nelson-Reid (YNR): Thank you Melissa. I'm very excited to be here. Thanks for having me.
MS: Yeah, we're very excited to talk to you today. I know this episode topic is one of the most requested ones we get when we're talking about MBTI, which is all about parents, families, children and personality. So first question, just to start off. I've read a little bit about your background. When did you in particular realize that the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator could be helpful in your family?
YNR: So that's a great question. And I'm going to answer it with, right from the very start. I really kind of learned first about the Myers Briggs Type Indicator through my first year of teaching middle school. And we had a professional development workshop and I absolutely loved it. I recognized that I could bring type into the classroom. And I did that right from the very beginning that day forward. And I found that type awareness had a profound and a real positive impact on the students, and with my own teaching style too.
So then fast forward to family. It was about six years later that I started my graduate school program and became certified with the MBTI assessment. I was very excited to go through that experience. I was, at the same time, pregnant with our first child. It was exciting for so many reasons, but specific to type, I was eager to raise my kids through a personality type lens.
It was kind of like having my own research study right in my backyard. And honestly, it was so fascinating. I have five kids. They all have different personality types. In fact, all seven of us in our family have different personality types. And I feel so fortunate to have had type in my toolbox right from the very start because it helped me not only as an educator, but also as a parent right at the very beginning.
MS: Oh that's awesome. It kind of reminds me of the beginning with Katherine [Briggs] and Isabel [Myers]. When they were developing this and thinking, “Well what's one of the most everyday communication applications that you can use when it comes to personality?” And it's your family.
YNR: Absolutely. So practical. And it's something, you know, again, that you can tell right from the very beginning and start bringing it into the family right from the very beginning, which was exciting for me.
MS: Would you mind sharing what your MBTI personality type is?
YNR: I don't mind at all. I prefer ENFJ.
MS: ENFJ. Okay. Oh, so we're pretty similar then because I have preferences for INFJ.
YNR: Okay yeah, we do. We are very similar.
MS: So how do you think that MBTI personality type specifically affects people's parenting style?
YNR: Personality type is innate. We have this predisposition to develop along certain typological lines. So type is really such an embedded part of who we are. It's what comes natural. It's what feels the most comfortable. And because of that, we tend to lean into what feels right for us. So parents who are unaware of personality type differences may parent from their own style, which may or may not align with their children.
For example, I have a preference for Judging so I like structure. I like schedules. So as a parent, I had dedicated nap times and bedtimes and mealtimes and so on. Now my spouse has a different preference. He prefers Perceiving. I have permission to share that. And so he's more flexible. He doesn't need to stick to a schedule and he's just a lot more spontaneous.
Now our kids who also like structure appreciated that schedule. They liked knowing what was always going to come next. However, my kids with a Perceiving preference – they may have felt kind of stifled at times, especially if I'd pull them away from something they were really enjoying. Or I would say no to doing something they had just sprung on me at the last moment, because that was hard for me.
Now when my spouse was with the kids, they got to be more adventurous. And some of the kids really enjoyed this, although I'd often come home and there'd be scrapes and bruises. But they got to experience life. And they loved experiencing life, because I like to keep them in a little bubble. I like to control life a little bit more.
And so I would say the bottom line is really that type awareness is key. Now People Stripes, as you mentioned in the introduction, is dedicated to personality type and families. And the tagline they have is “Helping families make the most of personality differences.” I love that. Because first, you know, it helps to know everyone's personality type in your family.
That's a great starting place, but then it's all about understanding, appreciating those personality differences. And then bear in mind, no one's perfect. Even with type knowledge, there's times when I'd slip into doing things my way with less consideration of what the rest of the family needed. And, we as parents, we need to recognize that we're human too – even when we have all this knowledge at our disposal.
MS: Yeah. The Judging and Perceiving example is- I hadn't thought about that one specifically, but I also have a Judging preference. I have blended family. So I have six step kids. Only one at home now. The rest are all out of the house. But when I first moved in, I had my three-month calendar, right? So I had the calendar and these kids were thinking, “Who is this person who's coming in, who's trying to control everything?”
Because that was very much not how they liked to operate. So going off that kind of conversation, what age is it? I know this is a question that comes up a lot, but at what age can children get involved with personality type? And then, given that I know some of these answers, but then what are the tools that you can use at different ages? And what's age appropriate for each tool?
YNR: So my kids really learned about type right from the time that they were born. However, you know, it's important to note that type is developmental. And although innate, as I mentioned, the preferences do take some time to develop. So type can be incorporated into the home without actually using type language right from the time that they're born practically.
And then type language can be introduced as they begin to grow up. For example, Extraversion– Introversion is often recognized at a very young age. I often said I could almost tell just in my pregnancies, which child preferred Extraversion and Introversion. It seemed so obvious.
The dominant process – that’s the core of the personality that tends to develop first, and it depends on whether that preference is encouraged or discouraged in the home as to how and when it really starts to take shape. So presenting opportunities for kids to experience all the preferences when growing up really provides them with that healthy environment to develop their preferences naturally.
So I would say provide options and you'll likely see their natural type come through in their choices and their behaviors. So again, by age, I say right from the beginning. Now when can you start accessing and using the different assessments that are available? Well, the MMTIC – the Murphy-Meisgeier Type Indicator for Children – and MBTI assessments are both designed to help people identify their personality type. I use both of them all the time. They're my go-to tools when it comes to working with families and children as you mentioned at the start.
Now the MMTIC instrument is scientifically validated for ages seven through 18. And the MBTI instrument is validated for ages 14 and up. So it really depends on the child's reading and comprehension levels as to the best time to move from MMTIC to the MBTI assessment. What I tend to do when I'm working with families is I use the MMTIC instrument with the children and the MBTI instrument with the parents and the caregivers. Now the MMTIC assessment is available through People Stripes and MBTI assessment is available through you of course.
Now both do require certification for the practitioners. And that's necessary because type concepts are multilayered. They go deep. They go far beyond simply four letters and we know people are complex. They're multifaceted. And this is why a feedback session with a trained professional is so important.
MS: Yeah. And I know that at least for the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator specifically, there is a way to do it online through MBTIonline.com where you don't have the feedback session necessarily. Feedback sessions are always the best, right? Like that's your primary, that's your first priority. If you can't do that, I know that MBTIonline.com has a built-in type verification process that you go through and then an online confirmation that you understand the concepts before you make any changes or anything like that.
YNR: Thanks for bringing that up, Melissa. You're right. And that can be really valuable if people don't have access to a practitioner and so forth. And then what I love about being able to get to verify type like that – and in a way that they can still understand and have a chance to verify – is that once you've got verification, that's where you can really go into what's next. Like, “Well now what do I do? What do I do with this information?” There's so many different ways that it can be applied.
And we have on People Stripes, it's called “take the MMTIC assessment” and it's a service that we do offer. So families can come on the website, have their children take the assessment. And then we set them up with a feedback provider so that they can go through that process.
MS: Gotcha. So they don't have to try and find a practitioner on their own. That makes sense. You mentioned before that Murphy-Meisgeier [Type Indicator for Children] and Myers-Briggs [Type Indicator] that both of them are developmentally based. As you, as a person, develop and learn more about yourself, you learn more about your personality. And one of the questions I know that came through when we said we were going to do a parenting episode was the question of, “Can children's MBTI personality type change?” What's your opinion on that?
YNR: Yeah, I love that question because it's so nuanced. Can it change? Well, type theory states that our personality types are innate, meaning they're inborn. Now, as I mentioned earlier, we're predisposed to develop along these certain lines, but what's so important here, and especially with young people, is their environment. Because environment influences that development. And we find that with adults too, when we meet and work with adults. Are children's preferences at home encouraged, are they supported in the family? If so, then they're likely going to develop them naturally, but if they're discouraged, or if a parent sees their way as the only way, then a child may act against their own preferences to please their parent.
As you can imagine, it can be a bit challenging then for both the parents and the child. And that, to me, is the art of feedback in working with young people is to try to help them discover and recognize their natural preferences as separate from the environment that they're growing up in.
Parents don't intentionally set out to make things challenging and difficult for their kids regarding personality. It's not something that they do on purpose necessarily. Let me give you an example. So there was this family that I was working with that was a mother and her son and the mom set up the session with me because she was worried that her child was not getting deep into any activity, sport, hobby. Rather he was kind of jumping around from one thing to another.
As it turned out, her son prefers ESFP. Okay so what does that mean? It means that he has dominant Extraverted Sensing. Well, for anyone who knows what Extraverted Sensing means, it's about wanting to try out everything. So it was absolutely no surprise that this is how her son verified his type. Because he loved that. He wanted adventure. It’s really about experiencing the world. It's about trying everything that they can and everything in the here and now. And so after going through this session with the mom and her son, the mom felt relieved to know that this was actually natural for her son. And her son was relieved to know that it was also okay for him to be him.
So I find when taking the assessment, whether it's MMTIC or MBTI, what's so important is creating an appropriate mindset prior to taking the assessment. Because we want people to answer the items based on who they really are, not who they or others think they should be. And this is where parenting can get into play.
And that's the challenge with a self-report questionnaire, because your results are based on how you answer the items. Well when people disagree with their results, it's often because they've answered them as to who they think they should be, or how they are at work, or how they're expected to be. So there's a phrase I often use when I work with families in preparing them for taking the assessment, and that is, “Answer as if you have no one or no thing to answer to.”
And that is compliments of Michael Segovia, because that's one of the phrases that he uses. And I find it helps people to realize that, “Okay, this is about me and who I am, and that it's okay to be me.” So can they change? I would say theoretically no, but it depends on have they been able to develop them throughout their lifetime in a natural way?
I remember taking – actually it was during my certification training with the MBTI – I remember one of the participants, and it's so clear because it shocked me so much, is that he said throughout his whole life that he had preferred ISTJ. During the certification, he was probably mid-thirties, realized that he actually preferred the complete opposite. And that was ENFP.
And I remember going, “Wow, like did you change? Did your personality type change?” And what he recognized was, no. He was doing as he was taught to do. He grew up in a very structured home. And so he just thought that's who he was and it wasn't until he had gone out on his own into the world that he began to realize that, “Wow, that wasn't me at all.”
So do they change? I say no, but it depends on how it's developed and appreciated and encouraged during their growing up years as well.
MS: Michael Segovia was also one of our guests, on our first season of the podcast and he talked about personality type and relationships. I can't remember if he mentioned it on that episode, but he also has a TED Talk where he talks about personality and in that he talks about growing up – and part of it’s family and part of it's also culture – so he grew up in a Latino household that was socially and culturally very Extraverted. And that's just what everyone did. That's what was expected.
And I know he's shared his type many times on many different platforms and prefers Introversion. And people, like his relatives, would have big parties. And you know, he’d socialize for a little bit and then he'd want to go read or be alone. And the people in his family would come in and say, “What's wrong, what's wrong?” And it wasn't that there was anything wrong. It was just that his natural preferences were so different from, culturally, what was expected of him. And then familially – I don't know the rest of his family specific type – but familially what was expected of him. And how, as he was growing up and learning those sort of things that, that it influenced how he expressed his personality preferences.
YNR: Oh, that's so true. I know that story so well, Melissa. It's such a great story. And it actually makes me think about my own development growing up. I'm a farm kid. So I grew up on a farm. And during those times, it was “Kids were to be seen and not heard. Kids go play with the kids. Leave the adults alone.” And even though my preference is for Extraversion, it's actually just a slight preference. And when you look at my Step Two results, which the MBTI Step Two is a wonderful assessment. You've probably talked about it or we'll be talking about it when you do more.
MS: We need to do an episode on Step Two. There’s so much to go into with that.
YNR: Absolutely. I love the Step Two. And one thing that shows up for me is that I'm out of preference, intimate. So how I show up as someone who prefers Extraversion – and there's no question that I do – I get energized by being with others, for sure. But I really like that one-on-one connection. I don't like being in large groups. And I feel like that developed for me as a child growing up in a home where I had to learn to go and kind of do things on my own. And now does that mean that it's uncomfortable for me? No, it developed as well. It developed along with my natural preferences.
MS: And for anyone that doesn't know, the MBTI Step Two is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment, but it is basically a deeper dive into each of the four letters. So each of those four preference pairs, like Extraversion and Introversion, have different facets. And I can't remember if there's a standard number under each one.
YNR: Yeah, there's five facets per preference pair. So 20 in total.
MS: Five facets. Okay. And it’s used in a ton of executive coaching and leadership coaching. But it's a way where if you know you might have preferences for Introversion or Extraversion, but that there's a whole deeper side to that where you may have preferences for Introversion, but maybe one facet, like you were describing, is what they call “out of preference.”
And so you said you prefer Extraversion, but the one facet that you described was intimate. So that's on the Introversion side. So yeah, Step Two is- I don't think there's any way you can do step two without going through an MBTI practitioner. I'm pretty sure you need an MBTI practitioner because it’s really in depth.
YNR: Yes you do because it's really, it's so in depth and even the feedbacks take time because there's so much to talk through and talk about. And it really brings up stories for people. And yeah, it's quite a fascinating process. I do encourage people to take it when and if they have the chance to.
MS: I know we've talked a little bit about the differences if you have a parent and a child that have different preferences from each other. Obviously I think most of the responsibility from that side, as far as knowing more, is from the parent's side. So what can parents do, or what's the best way to parent a child who you might get the idea has a different preference from you? Like, let's take Introversion and Extraversion in Michael Segovia's example. What's the best way to work with that?
YNR: I don't know if I can necessarily say what the best way is because there's so many factors that come into it besides personality type because other things do come into play. But speaking directly to personality type, I'm going to start by saying it can be challenging. But so can parenting children with the same preferences. But that's for a longer conversation. That's where we get into type dynamics and dig deep into that. So let's start just by saying that- let's assume everyone knows their personality type. Then I'd say to the parent, honor your type preferences first, then stretch to your child's personality type.
So for example, a parent who prefers Introversion, they may not want every minute of every day to be filled with people and activities. Whereas a child who prefers Extraversion, they may want to hang out with friends and have playdates and sleepovers and have friends over. So you can imagine that this could cause a bit of a clash.
So I would say compromise and open communication go a long way in a scenario like this one. And honestly, I think it comes down to respecting all personality types and differences. First you need to know what those are, of course. And then again, compromise. I keep using that word and it's about finding and using type language. I find that that helps a lot too, by using type language. Let me give you another example. So let's say a parent who prefers Judging may want to know what everyone has planned for the weekend, which might be frustrating to the kid.
MS: [laughter] Oh my gosh. Yeah. This is me every day. When my stepson comes home, “Hey, what'd you do at work today? What's going on? What are you doing tonight? What's your work schedule tomorrow?”
YNR: [laughter] “And what are you doing over the next three months, one year, and five years?” OK I’m with you.
MS: [laughter] And he's probably like, “Chill, leave me alone.”
YNR: [laughter] We could be in the same family, Melissa. That would be great. But you know, what it comes down to then is that will work for some of the kids in the family. But there are others in the family who want to keep their options open, just in case something really fun comes up.
So using type language, the parent could say, “My love for planning means I would like to know what we're going to do on Saturday, but that does not seem as important to you. When I ask what you have scheduled, it is to help me plan my day more than to interfere with your freedom.” Isn't that a great line?
MS: Oh that’s so good.
YNR: I love that line because it's really what it's about. I'm okay if you have your own plans or you're doing this or that, and I don't even necessarily need to know what all the details are. But I want to know how I can go about planning my day with my preference for Judging.
MS: That's interesting. Because I was going to ask too, if depending on the age that kids are, using terms like Extraversion, Introversion, Sensing, Intuition may not work as well. But I feel something like saying, “I like planning, whereas you might like more freedom with your time or more flexibility” that those are more common words that they can identify, that kids could identify.
YNR: Absolutely. And when I use the phrase “type language,” that's actually what I'm talking about and referring to is that we can talk about type without actually saying each of the preferences by name. I'll know that I'm talking to my child who prefers Introverted Sensing, for example, but I won't necessarily use that phrasing. I can still talk their talk knowing what that means and stands for.
MS: I'm just thinking of all the funny things I've seen. And I also have grandkids, so I have a lot of new mom things. And I'm thinking of the mom who's like, “Mommy needs her quiet time.” And how maybe for someone who prefers Introversion as a parent of someone who prefers Extraversion. I think actually all three of my step kids who lived at home definitely preferred Introversion. And so we're all the same in that way. But thinking of how that thing of like, “Oh, the parent needs their quiet time” might be a lot more difficult because how do you explain that in a way that it's not making the Extraverted child feel like, “Oh, I need time away from you.”
YNR: Oh I know. It's so hard to explain it to them. I'll put myself back when the kids were little. It's like, you know, I prefer Extraversion so it's a little bit different, but if I had a preference for Introversion, I would use language like, “Hey, you know, mommy loves hanging out with you and playing games. I'm going to take a little bit of a break for a while. Why don't you do such and such because mom needs a bit of a break too.” And it's okay to say what our needs are. But I think for a child, they need to know it's not because of them. And that you're going to come around back to them again.
An example that I think about actually involves Sensing and Intuition. And I have three kids who prefer Sensing in the family. And when they would come home from school, and I would say, “How's your day?” One of them in particular would start with, “I woke up at 7am, I brushed my teeth, I got dressed, I got on the bus . . .” And then I would hear every detail so I was reliving that six hours that they were away from home. And of course, my preference for Feeling was, “Oh I'll listen. I can accommodate you. Yes, I want to hear it.” And pretty soon it would just get to the point where it's like oh my gosh, this is too much. I can't take that.
With my preference for Intuition, I was really just asking for kind of a framework. Just give me the big picture. I don't need all the details. So what I learned to do with them, because saying, “Hey that's too much. Stop.” obviously hurt their feelings. So I learned to ask rather than saying, how was your day in a big frame way, I would say, “Tell me the top three things that you loved about today.” And then they knew they had a limit. Tell me one, two, and three. And then they'd be off and they'd be happy and satisfied and get to go play and do their thing. And I wasn't feeling overwhelmed by all the details that I was hearing about every moment of their day.
MS: Yeah I like that one. Self-limiting questions. One of my questions was, can the whole family take the MBTI together? But I feel like talking about the two different assessments and the ages and hearing you describe them, I feel like the answer is yes.
YNR: Yes. And you know, that question makes me think about by taking it together, how do you define together? So do you all sit around and do it together beside each other and ask each other questions? Well the answer to that is no. So yeah, everybody in the family can take either the MBTI or the MMTIC instrument. The idea though, is you want to take it on your own without disruption. Because we want people to answer where they don't feel pressure to answer a certain way. In other words, having the whole family in one big room taking it at the same time together, maybe not the best way of going. I know that's not what the question was referring to, but I wanted to toss that in there.
MS: That's a good point of clarification.
TNR: It's important because we want them to answer without any outside pressure. And if family is around – a sibling, a parent – that might put a little pressure on them too. And if people [or] families are interested in taking both assessments – because both assessments do require a certified practitioner, aside from MBTIonline – they're going to need to reach out. And they can reach out to People Stripes to get some input or to find somebody to work with them.
There's also the MBTI Master Practitioner Network, and that's a website where you can go in and find practitioners who are certified in both. So that's another option for families too.
MS: Oh cool. That sounds like a really good option. And I know a lot – not all of them – but you can also find marriage family therapists that do use the MBTI and the MMTIC.
YNR: For sure.
MS: So when it comes to parents and MBTI type, we talked a little bit about structure with Judging and Perceiving, but are there types of parents that are more nurturing or more structured? How does type express itself as a parent? Which I guess is a big question because there's, you know, eight different ones you could talk about.
YNR: [laughter] Yeah. There’s a lot that could be brought into this.
MS: [laughter] That could be its own whole episode on every question.
YNR: We could do an episode probably on every question, Melissa. We could spend hours. There's no doubt on that. MBTI personality type reflects our natural preferences in four important areas of personality. We know that. The keyword I want to point out here is the word preference. So, there are certain behavioral characteristics that are associated with each personality type.
For example, someone who prefers Feeling is typically empathetic, accommodating, compassionate, tender hearted. So they may come across as more nurturing. And someone who prefers Judging tends to like schedule, structure, and making plans, as we've already talked about. So they may run their household in a more structured way.
But back to the word preference, because I think that's so key when we talk about personality type, because personality type is not limiting. So even though there are behavioral characteristics associated with each preference, type theory recognizes that we have a choice in our behavior. And that also we use all the preferences, although typically not with the same amount of ease. What comes natural is what we tend to lean into.
So when working with children, we refer to natural personality type preferences as strengths. And the opposite ones we call their stretches. So we can use them. It just takes a little more effort and energy to do so. And it might feel a bit awkward too. But we can learn to use them, but it's kind of like using your opposite hand. It can be a little messy. So we can lean into our strength or access a stretch.
Back to nurture and structure: well, all types can nurture. How they do so may look quite different. Even how they define the term nurture may look quite different. Giving you another example, if you don't mind me giving all these examples.
MS: No, no. I think the examples are great.
YNR: My mom prefers ISTJ. So her way of nurturing is very different from my own way of nurturing. A reminder, [I prefer] ENFJ. So when growing up, I'd come home to a clean house, fresh cookies, bread, donuts. She'd make sure we got to our activities. She was always supportive of them. She would often take kind of a behind the scenes leadership role in helping to run all those organizations we were a part of. So I felt nurtured through those acts, but they're very different than me.
I, on the other hand, nurture my kids through hugs, cuddles, reading books together, watching movies. They're just different styles, different ways of doing that. And we often lean into what's natural for us. Again, we can stretch if a situation calls for it. And when we lean into what's natural, even though that's what I love to do when it comes to nurturing my kids, my middle child did not appreciate cuddles.
Now she preferred more intellectual discussions, especially as she got older. Not when she was little. But even when she was little, she wouldn't want to sit and cuddle and read a book. She'd want to talk about that book. She really looked at life more intellectually and logically. She wanted to learn how things worked rather than spending that cuddly time together. So the idea is you need to honor your natural style, but stretch to the opposite when necessary to do so.
MS: That's great advice. It sounds similar to- I know Rachel Cubas-Wilkinson, who's one of our psychology experts at the company has talked about the Platinum Rule, right? So everyone says the Golden Rule is “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” And then I don't know if she came up with it or if it's been around, but her article, The Platinum Rule, is “do unto others as they would prefer that you do unto them” because yeah, we, we're all biased towards our own personality preferences.
YNR: I love that Platinum Rule. I use that in my programs all the time. And even when working with families. Because some preferences naturally want to treat everyone the same. “Hey, that's just let's treat everybody the same because that's fair.”
MS: Oh yeah. That's I was just going to say, the fair thing. I remember from when I got certified that that was a huge eye opener and it was, Thinking versus Feeling, if I remember right. That's how you make decisions. And that the whole question was what is fair. To someone who prefers Thinking, what's fair might be treating everyone exactly the same, regardless of circumstances, preferences, whatever. And then if you prefer Feeling, sometimes what's quote unquote fair is not treating everyone the same, but treating people different based on what they need or what the circumstances are. And I remember obviously as someone who prefers Feeling, I remember hearing the people who prefer Thinking talk about what’s fair and I was like, “No that's not fair at all.” And they're like, “Of course it's fair.” And you're like, are we talking about the same word here?
YNR: It’s so true, isn't it? I remember when cell phones- my kids are older now, but when they were young and cell phones were first kind of coming out. My oldest at the time I think was 13 and she had gone to a birthday party. And some incidents went down at this birthday party sleepover and she couldn't get to me. She couldn't access me. She was too afraid to ask the parents to use their phone. And at that point I was like, well we don't want this to happen again. Maybe it's time for you to have a cell phone, with restrictions of course. But it's because she was always going out with friends. She was always going and doing things. So we got the first cell phone for the kids. Second child came along. Not a big deal. Didn't even question, didn't even ask.
But the third child, the only one in the family who prefers Thinking – everyone else prefers Feeling – turned 13. Guess what she asked for? A cell phone. And I'm like, but you don't go anywhere. You are our homebody. You hang out in the house. What are you going to use a cell phone for? [She said] “My sister got a cell phone at age 13. It's only fair that I do too.” And we didn't, but we had to explain it logically. Rationally. And then she got it. Understood. But it took, you know, I had to speak her language for her to understand that.
MS: Yeah, that's a good one. There's so many things when it comes to parenting. People have different approaches, different things, and then add personality type into it, and I feel like it's- I don't want to make it feel overwhelming because it's another thing to think about, but [personality type] is something that I feel like could make things easier. If you know, because it's not, “I'm doing something wrong, you're doing something wrong.” But let me, like you said, speak your language because I know what's important to you.
YNR: Absolutely. And you know, I think it can be overwhelming at first when someone's beginning to learn and understand personality type. I even know as a first-year teacher bringing type in the classroom was overwhelming because it was so easy to work from my own preferences. I had to learn how to work with the others and that took some effort, but it can be done easily, even though type is incredibly deep and we could really go into some nuances. Even looking at it with an overview of each of the preferences and knowing what your child appreciates or doesn't appreciate can make all the difference in the world. It really can.
MS: And since we're talking about you being a teacher, I feel like that goes perfectly into another question I have, which is how can personality type help parents understand and maybe even address different learning styles?
YNR: Yeah, well absolutely it can really make a difference. For one thing, I'll just do some examples again that might probably help it make more sense. Young people who prefer Extraversion, for example, they often like projects that involve talking or working with others. Whereas children who prefer Introversion, they might like projects that offer more private or quiet time for reflection. They like to process those thoughts internally first until they're more developed.
They're going to be different in the classroom. And if a teacher can recognize that, it makes such a difference. In my classroom, I had tables where groups of kids could work together, but I also had individual desks around the outside of the classroom so that everyone had a choice. And this is years ago, Melissa. But everybody had a choice where they could work. And if you wanted to work with others, of course you had to be respectful and don't get too loud. But everyone had an option on the environment that they would prefer more. Working with people or working on their own.
We could go into the other preferences too. A child who prefers Sensing, well they like clear detailed instructions. Whereas a child who prefers Intuition, they typically just want a framework because they're eager to get going into their own ideas, their own original innovative work. A student with a Thinking preference, they tend to do better in classrooms or do better work in classrooms that are organized in like a logical way. Whereas a child who prefers Feeling, well, they tend to do their best work in classrooms that are warm and friendly with a teacher who's kind of tuned into their emotional needs.
Young people who prefer Judging, we've talked about JP [Judging—Perceiving] a lot, typically want clear plans and structure in the classroom. With assignments, they want to know what they need to do. Whereas a child who prefers Perceiving, they tend to like flexibility. They want to follow their curiosity. They want to explore a variety of interests and experiences.
One area of learning and, you know, for children in schools that I think really comes up for parents and families is homework. And homework, I think, tends to cause conflict for everybody. Particularly in getting the homework done. Differences often arise with that JP preference pair. And here's another story for you. M two youngest children – my daughter was a senior in high school, prefers Judging. My son was a junior in high school, prefers Perceiving. So they were able to take the same class together. They took environmental science, which was so much fun for them because they'd never done that before.
Well, at the end of the year, there was this major project that was most of their grade and they had about a month to work on it. And my daughter worked a bit every day. She set up a schedule. She knew when it had to be done and she worked on it day by day throughout the entire month. And she would talk to me about it as well. She would bring that to me. So I knew what she was doing.
Never saw my son work on it. Never heard him talk about it. And I'd learned over the years that I learned to trust that he would get his homework done on time. It took a while to trust that, and some encouragement from me, especially when he was really young. But I learned to trust that he would get his work done. It would often be at the very last minute though, and that would stress me out. But I knew for him, that's when he did his best work. If I pushed him to do it earlier, it wouldn't be his best work.
So four hours before this project is due, I couldn't take it any longer. And I asked him, “Hey, where are you at with that project?” And his response: “What project?” Oh, so not the right answer, right? I panic. So when I mentioned environmental science, he goes, “Oh, no worries, mom. I'll get it done.” And he did. And he got nearly as good a grade as his sister. Different styles, different ways of working, different ways of learning, getting homework done. And she was frustrated because, you know, she'd spent all this time. But again, that's just his natural way of working and it works for him.
MS: Yeah. my mom is similar in the Perceiving preference. She runs her own PR agency and I've learned over the years that things that I would think, “Oh my gosh, you cannot leave that till the last minute.” She just gets this rush of energy at the last minute and it's exciting and she has all these ideas and things are going and she gets it done.
And I know as someone who also prefers Judging, sometimes it can get really frustrating. But also if you prefer Judging, I feel like – especially in American culture, probably in school and definitely in business – there's a lot of, value, maybe unfairly, a lot of value placed on the Judging way of doing things versus people who prefer Perceiving. Or even kids who prefer Perceiving and are maybe labeled as a procrastinator or other negative things.
YNR: Yeah it's not fair at all. And I think about what those of us who prefer Judging miss out on. We were living in Virginia and we're from Western Canada. We used to take summer trips where we would load up the minivan with all the kids and head off across country. And I would make sure that the hotels were booked. We knew how long each day was going to take. I knew what time we'd arrive. The kids each got to pick one excursion to do on the way. Very structured. And I could almost tell you the moment we'd show up at my parents doorstep. Well, we're driving through Iowa and my husband was driving at the time and I saw a little sign on the side of the road that said Bridges of Madison County.
And I read the sign out loud because, you know, think out loud and I'm like, “I wonder if that has anything to do with the book and the movie and the bridges.” And he smiles and he goes, “I don't know, let's check it out.” And of course, my first reaction was, “What? Are you kidding me? We can't do that. We're going to be late. We have to do this, this and this.”
Anyway, because we know type and we talk type in our family, he just looks over at me and smiles and he takes the exit. And I want to say that I was very excited about that moment. In that moment, I was not. However, that was the best part of the whole trip for me. We got to visit the movie set. We got to get family pictures with those beautiful covered bridges that had burned down, recently burned down. And I would have missed it. And that's something that I find with my Judging preferences that I drive things so hard sometimes that I need to pull back and let things happen too. And I appreciated that in him, that I got to have that experience because I would have missed it. So you're absolutely right on that.
MS: There's our parenting tip for if you prefer Judging. But what are some other parenting tips, maybe not by MBTI type because that's a lot. Or we could go by preference. What are some tips for different MBTI personality preferences?
YNR: You know, I was really thinking about this one because there's so much, right? This is a book. This is a book and this is hours and hours and hours because there are so many parenting tips.
MS: Wait, does this book exist?
YNR: [laughter] I'm going to write it. I'm hoping so. I need to find some time in my life to fit that in.
MS: This is an exclusive. Now you’ve heard it here first, The Myers-Briggs Company Podcast.
YNR: Now the pressure's on. Now we're going to expect it.
MS: Dr. Nelson-Reid’s book. Yeah. I want one of the pre-release podcasts to talk about the book.
YNR: [laughter] It's all yours Melissa. You got it. You know, because we could give tips for preferences. We could give tips for all 16 types. We could look at process pairs. We could look at type dynamics.
MS: You could look at functions. Yeah, that’s true.
YNR: So many ways of doing that. So what I want to share with you is some tips that actually came from one of our writers on People Stripes, Sandra Etherington. I asked her to write us an article on gratitude. I think we published it last November like around Thanksgiving. So I'm going to share with you, based on each one of the preferences, a tip for parents, okay?
So Extraversion, appreciate your child's ability to connect easily with others. Because that's such a gift. Introversion, appreciate your child's ability to be autonomous. That's another gift.
Sensing, appreciate your child's ability to live in the moment. I find that hard. So I do appreciate that when I see that with my kids. Intuition, appreciate your child's ability to dream, to imagine, to come up with that innovative idea and take that magic carpet ride.
The Thinking preference, appreciate your child's curious, independent, and analytical mind. They value competence. Let them know you value that competence. Feeling, appreciate your child's warm heart. It's really about that warm heart and compassion for people.
Judging, appreciate your child's ability for decisive action, even though we may decide too quick, typically decisions can be made. Perceiving preference, appreciate your child's ability to take life in stride, enjoying each new adventure that comes their way.
And this is just such a little summary for you. But there's so much more on People Stripes, our website, if you want to look at the blog. And we offer a lot of different tips and you can actually read this whole article, if that's interesting for you.
MS: Well those are fantastic. I feel like especially if you know that you have a child who has preferences that are different than your own. Appreciating the strengths of those preferences.
YNR: Appreciating them, and even at some point, I find, at least for myself, I learned how to not only appreciate them, but to call upon them when I knew an area wasn't necessarily my strength. I could say to one of the kids, especially as they got older, but even when they were young, you know, I could really learn to appreciate staying in the moment because that was hard for me. And I would, you know, even out on a playground, “Just help me stay in the moment. Let's go do something right here right now.” So, yeah.
MS: Well I have just one last question for you as we wrap up this interview. This has been, oh, I can't wait to go back and listen to this interview. But what’s one practical thing that parents can do right now that you think might be able to help?
YNR: Okay. What can I leave you with? So knowing each family member's personality type is a starting point. I highly recommend that that's where you begin. And then begin to recognize, understand, and appreciate differences. All personality types are equally valuable. There are no better or worse types. And like Isabel Briggs-Meyer said, and I love this, so for me this is like a practical thing: “Let's make constructive use of your differences.” Let's not let them be this conflict between us, but let's be constructive with it. So draw upon each other's strengths. Just like I mentioned, give room for your kids to experience all the preferences so that they can develop the preferences that are natural to them.
MS: Oh, love that. If people are listening, aside from your book that will be coming out in the future, where can people find you if they want to learn more about you, hear more from you? Where's the best place to find you?
YNR: Yeah, so they can absolutely find me in a couple different places. You'll find me at People Stripes [www.peoplestripes.org]. That's our website. And you'll also find me with the Myers & Briggs Foundation [www.myersbriggs.org]. You can email me. I'm happy to receive emails. My email address is email@example.com. And I have my own website too for Passion Fire Consulting where I do some of my own work, and that's firstname.lastname@example.org. And I'd be so happy to speak with you and work with you if you're interested in learning more about type and families.
MS: Awesome. Well thank you so much for your time today. This was such a good conversation. So I feel like we need five more parenting episodes. I feel like every question- there are so many other things we could talk about. But I know we generally have to keep it to, you know, a certain amount of time. But like I said, I'm calling dibs when the book comes out. I want a podcast episode.
YNR: That sounds great. And I'm happy to come on again anytime you like. This has been enjoyable. I love talking type as you probably figured that out. So I really do appreciate doing this with you, Melissa. Thank you.
MS: And hopefully everyone who's listening loves hearing about type because personality, working together, that's all what we're talking about on this show. So thank you very much. And we will talk to you again, hopefully soon.
YNR: Sounds good. Thanks Melissa.
MS: Thank you.
Outro: Thanks for listening to The Myers-Briggs Company Podcast. If you like what you heard today, please share it with others, post on social media, or leave a rating or review. Thanks again and we'll see you next time.
[BACKGROUND MUSIC ENDS]