Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Catching Up Is Hard To Do

So much for regular updates. I just don't sit at the computer in the summer. Summers are made for playing, not sitting at the computer being semi-productive.

Since I have so much to write about and catch up on, I'm not going to try. Yes, that's the sort of lazy pathetic person that I am.

I'm just going to skip to the current topic of interest. A few years ago, I got a book out of the library called Nurture by Nature. It uses a simplified version of the Meyers-Briggs personality index to help identify your child's natural inclinations along with some strategies and tips for better relating to your child. Its actually a lot more interesting and helpful than that boring sentence made it sound. Anyway, I got it back out from the library a few weeks ago to reread the INFJ section that pertains to my Sweetling, and to see if I could narrow down what personality type Little Guy *might* be so that I could maybe relate to him and understand him a little better.

Here's some notes on the Sweetling:

The chapter's subtitle is "My Secret Garden" and the opening quote is "He's always off in his own world, which must be a fascinating place." After that, here are some super relevant descriptions of the Sweetling...

The fundamental quality of INFJs is their vivid and rivate imagination, their unique vision of the world and their place in it. They are driven to see the pattern and connection between things and are comletely faxcinated with their own view. They are sensitive and warm children...

The most important part of INFJ is their rich inner life, which is highly imaginative and capable of seeing unique possiblities everywhere. Often reserved and caustion children, INFJs may be reluctant to reveal their true and usually highly creativ selves wit others. Even then they are slective about whom they risk sharing thier ideas with, and they need to first make sure these special people are wll known and deeply trusted. Quiet, gentle, and sensitive, INFJs like to watch first and join in after they feel comfortable and safe. They are rarely very assertive except as regards their personal values, about which they can be quite forceful and passionat. Intellecturally curious, especially about theories...INFJs often have a uniqe vision about themselves and their projects. ...

INFJs tend to love fantasy in their play and their stories. They often speak early and with a sophisticates style that belies their years. They usually like and creative activity... They may have imaginary firens or close friendships with their stuffed animals.... They have a strong need for harmony, especially in their treasured ersonal relationships, and can be deeply wounded by insensitive or cruel comments...

Organized and efficient, INFJs are most comfortable with order, structure, and consistency. They are unnerved by constan ot raid change and need plenty of time, advanced warning, and loving support to adjust to it. They like to be on time and prepared for all of thier obligations, and they respect rules and authority. INFJs really like to be in control and can run the risk of being overly perfectionistic. The are frightended and stressed when too much changes too fast. Determined to stay in charge and unwilling to go against what they believe is right, they can have real trouble compromising or backing down. Some time alone, or quiet compaionship that reasures them they are supported and loved, helps INFJs regain their sense of optimism and balance.

(Ages 5-10) By the time most INFJs start school, they are eager to lear as much as they can...Elementary school INFJs tend to be great readers, with ecclectic tastes and interests...They like philosophical or tehical discussions and are able to grasp complex concepts quickly...INFJs are generally very resourceful children who enjoy creating things out of other things....INFJs are usually well liked as quitely friendly children, but they continue to prefer to have one best friend at a time....But while INFJs may be slective about which people they connect with, once they do, their commitments are often strong ones and thier feelings of friendship and concern depp and passionate. They tend to be sentimental and guided by their deeply felt sense of right ans wrong. Toward the end of elementay school, parents may notice that their children's value system is gaining increasing focus and strength...They want to know and obey the rules and are alarmed in others encourage them to bend rules.

(Joys and Challenges) Parents of INFJs often find that once their child has made up her mind, it is vitually impossible to get her to change it. INFJs like structure and are uncomfortable leaving their options open for too long. Since they would rather err on the side of decisiveness, they can get a bit stuck in their ways. Solw to adapt to change, they need plenty of time to switch gears once a plan has been made. While they may appear to be annoyed with you or not glad to see you unexpectedly, this is more often a reaction to pulling themselves out of thier inner world and reentering yours. Generally concerned about being on time, they can be alarmed and worried if you are late... While they may be intellectually adventurous, that quality is rarely expressed in the physical world.
Since most INFJs are so intensely private, they may be hesitant to participate in activites unless they know the other children well. This stems from thier strong need to be liked. if they don't know the children in the group, for example, they will often hang back and watch. Only after they have made a connection with one child will they feel more comfortable about joining in.
...[they] are well likded by most of thier peers for their quiet strenght sincerity, and integrity. In fact, many INFJs deomstrate excellent leadership qualities, and other children are drawn to them for the high quality of thier ideas and for their interpersonal warmth.
The time INFJs spend alone is not only happy time, but necessary time for them ot formulate thier thoughts, process the many new things they've experienced during the day, or simply engage in nourishing and satisfying daydreaming. However, this internal quality of the INFJs can make it hard for them to stay conntected to the external world: "One morning, eight-year-old Paticia and her mother were making Englis muffins, as they did most mornings. Patricia suddently looked a bit startles and asked, as she looked up at her mother, 'when did we get a toaster?' Of course, they'd had a toaster, and used it nearly every morning--for four years."
Parents who understand this quality of INFJs can help rotect them from a demanding and high-seed world. By crating private times and places, parents communicate a respect and understanding of thier child and help foster a close and intimate relationship that lasts a lifetime.
INFJs also need privacy to make the many intuitive connections they do and to develop thier creative ideas and visions. for them, the createive process is essentially a solitayr one. n fact, a high and procuctive level of creative endergy very often requires that they work alone. Percolating thier ideas inside allows a sort of positive pressure to build up, enabling them to push the ideas futher than they would if they shared it prematurely. Bringing the idea out inot the light (and noise) of the external day defuses some of its energy and its power. Therefore, many INFJs will avoid showing thir creative writing or drawing to anyone until it is finished. Comments or suggestions from caring onlookers may spoil the wole project for them. Well-meaning parents assume they are actively encouraging their child by offering compliments or suggestions and may be understandably confused when the child balls up the paper or loses interst in the porject. It is usaly best to stay silent until the project is finishes or the child seeks a reaction. Then compliments are welcome and are, in fact, an important form of appreciation and praise. INFJs like to hear that thier work is good or pleasing or interesting. Just wait until they ask. Parents can encourage their INFJs by simly providing the time, space, materials, and the essential quiet to create. Those actions speak much louder than words.
But perhaps the most confounding quality of INFJs is thier tendency toward perfectionism. Becouse they are most interested in projects that are complex and substantive, they can find themselves in over their heads... They will work so hard, reworking, adjusting, correcting, refiguring, and erfecting what they do, they run the risk of exhausting themselves or becoming discouraged if the product never truly measures up to their expectations and ideals. And since their ideals can be unrealistic, this is a real possiblitity.

(In a Crystal Ball) Lasting self-esteem for INFJs develops in a wamr and nurturing home where they are appreciated for their uniqueness and their original ideas. INFJS thrive in a crative and open-ended environament were they feel free and encouaged to explore, perfect, and produce their vision of how things might be. They need gentle guidance and constant affection.

(What works)
--Respect their need for quiet and time alone to play, think, or dream.
--Allow them to watch from the sidelines or begin participation on the periphery of the action before joining in.
--Speak privately and quietly when you are discussing or correcting their behavior.
--Try not to raise your voice or yell; apologize quickly if you do.
--Listen to their ideas and refrain from correcting or offering feed back that squelches thier imagination and zeal for the idea.
--Provide a variety of creative materials and encouage open-ended exploration.
--Give them plenty of physical conatc and affections; express your love for your child in little, thoughtful ways like love notes.
--Encourage them to express their feelings in words or through drawings.
--Listen and rephrase their feeling to help them clarify them; talk on-on-one as much as possible.
--Help them see that life is both fun and funny.
--Respect their privacy.
--Offer regular, qualit private time with one parent at a time--take your INFJ on a date!
--Ask for thier input and iedas ahead of time; include them in decision making.
--Don't interrupt or rush them through their talk.
--Don't tease them about thier heads being in the clouds--they hear enough of that from the rest of the world.

So, that tured out to be more than "some" notes. But the whole chapter is dead on in describing the Sweetling...and much of it is the exact opposite of how I operate. I needed to type it all out in hopes that I'll absorb and remember and adjust my own methods accordingly.

I'll try to get info on Little Guy's personality up as well. He's much harder to identify with a specific type though...partly because he's younger, partly becuase I haven't known him as long, and partly because this is such a time of transition and change for him, its hard to know if some of his behaviors and preferences are natural or induced by the upheavals in his life. Also, I think that his experiences in his first year of life have left a significant scar in how he operates. So, the questions is---is he an E with strong I tendencies because of the trauma of what he's been through? Or is he an I with strong E tendencies because his confidence and trust were so shaken that its made him more needy of constant reassurance from others? Personally, I think that he's acting more and more and more like an E as he becomes more comfortable and at home in his environment---so I think he is naturally an E who reverts to some I tendencies when confronted with a new and unfamiliar situation.

But now its 9:30 am. I'm in my nightgown and BOTH my children are sitting on the couch watching TV and NEITHER have been fed yet, so I'll save the rest of the notes and discussion of Little Guy for later. (Like maybe three weeks later....cause its still SUMMER baby. Little Guy has taken to saying "yeah, baby!" about things. I don't know where he could have picked that up.)

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