As parents, we all want to provide the best for our children. Sometimes, the intensity of our emotions may actually blur or skew our good intentions and may cause a blind spot for ourselves. Many adults may have attended some form of people skills course - it could have been a self awareness, leadership or communication type of course. This type of learning is critical at work as it enables you to interact better with the people around you. Why then would communicating with our children be different? Learning communication skills and techniques to understand them better would help too!
The DISC personality method helps to provide a tool for all of us to understand ourselves. And mastery of ourselves is the key to being able to communicate and understand those around us, including our own children. Being aware of your personality type and your children's personality type helps to enhance your awareness to their uniqueness, and hence how to augment your relationship. (for those who are new to the DISC personality method, do read our earlier blog post on it). Using the DISC framework allows us to replace judgement with acceptance - a very powerful frame of mind for positive relationships.
A short recap on the 4 different main styles - there are D (Dominant), I (Influential), S (Steady), C (Conscientious) styles.
D (Dominant) style parents
D style parents tend to be go getters, competitive, energetic. These are the individuals who are result oriented, enjoys action, and are usually busy - they love being involved in many different activities. The focus is usually on problem solving, and not so much on emotions, not so much on the whys but on the final end result (preferably positive). They will strive always to be good role models to their children, and to be a figure of authority.
D parents tend not to react well to emotional outbursts, or dramatic children. Long discussions on the whys and hows do not usually bring out the best in D parents - the response in a negative situation tends to be strong tones and body language.
With D style children, D parents may find themselves battling for authority. In this instance, D parents need to remember what D style children (who are extremely similar to themselves) crave - which is the ability to make their own decisions and some degree of control over their lives. Saying "do not wear that shirt" is akin to opening up a debate - one that you may not wish to have. Instead, get 2 choices that are acceptable to you and say " do you prefer to wear A or B?". Asserting your role as the figure of authority early is good, remembering always that control is crucial to your D style child.
With I, S, and C children, D parents need to find patience and seek to moderate their tone and body language. S and C children in particular, who are not naturally expressive, may internalise their emotions. So they may externally display a quiet response to D parents, but do be careful that they are not burying their emotions, which may bubble up one day.
I (Influential) style parents
These are the parents that love to talk. They love people, and enjoy interacting and chatting with others. I style parents tend to be fun loving, enthusiastic, and finds being accepted by others to be important. They tend to be open, forgiving, flexible and enjoys spontaneity.
I style parents may sometimes prefer not to take the difficult route of saying "no" to their children, as they prefer to favour acceptance by those around them. They may struggle with time management and details, and tend to struggle with dealing with rejection.
With D and C children, I style parents may need to be more understanding with their differences in openness. D and C style children, are more task oriented rather than people oriented, and may find the I style to be too exuberant for them. Find the right opportunity or circumstances where the D and C style children open up to you. They may prefer a quieter setting, or a 1 to 1 type environment, without their other siblings around.
S (Steady) style parents
The S Style parents are those who prioritises stability in their relationships, and will prioritise the family above all else. They are usually selfless, committed, kind and calm - placing the needs of others above their own. S style parents enjoys creating an environment of security for themselves and for their families, providing good grounding for their children.
Conflict is usually avoided and the S style parent has a tendency to internalise any emotions, creating a situation of stress, which may in the long term not be good for their own well being, as well as for those around them. The S Style parent tends not to like change, and when faced with stress, tends to become stubborn.
S style parents may sacrifice their own needs to the point of tipping over to neglecting your own wants and needs. Remember that a happy child needs a happy parent.
With D style children, S style parents need to set boundaries. This may be uncomfortable for an S style parent, who likes to avoid conflict, but remember that the D style child respects people who holds their ground.
C (Conscientious) style parents
These are parents who enjoy details, love planning, highly logical, and are process oriented. They like following instructions, love reading manuals and following the steps, one at a time. They gather data, and information before making decisions and are task oriented. At home, they like things to run in a certain style or process, and may get stressed when the process gets disrupted or changed. C style parents prioritise low conflict situations, and like predictability.
C parents can sometimes be perceived as being unemotional, quiet and focused on process rather than feelings. As C style parents are extremely good with details, they notice more things than most other people - including faults, and may be more picky on them as they can see it easily.
With I style children, C style parents may find their children's enthusiasm, and high levels of energy and flexibility to be difficult to handle. C style parents like everything to be planned, while I children love spontaneity. With I children, focus on the relationship, remembering that a low conflict environment with the I style child means providing space for the child to exert their energy.
With S and C style children, remember to keep open lines of communication. You are all good at internalising emotions. So while these children do not jump around you and create what is to you a havoc, they may not be expressing themselves, so do give them opportunities to open up to you.
With D style children, establishing authority is key, even if this is very uncomfortable for you.
Being aware of your own personality type can enhance your relationship with others, including your own children. If we enhance our awareness of their personality type vis a vis our own, it becomes easier to adapt and work towards establishing a healthy relationship, without judgement and without being emotional. Using the Children's DISC Personality assessment can help to open a door of knowledge for you, and help you use this knowledge as a stepping stone towards a healthy parent-child relationship. You will also be surprised at how positive children respond when you acknowledge that you yourself have a personality type and have innate tendencies. Mutual acknowledgement that both you are your child are unique individuals is a positive starting point towards enhancing your relationship.