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47 - How To Raise An Adult

posted May 26, 2016, 7:36 AM by Doug Muha

Counselor Notes 47

May 25, 2016

How To Raise An Adult


The other book that I want to cover this school year is How To Raise An Adult by Julie Lythcott-Haims   It is divided into four parts: the present situation, the effects of over-parenting, an alternative to over-parenting, and “daring to be different.”    This is a wonderful book addressing the issue of over-parenting (“helicopter parents”).  It is well written with lots of examples and research (and very little (if any) “psycho-babble”).  As a parent herself Ms. Lythcott-Haims is well aware of the pressures of raising children in this day and age.  She includes lots of personal experiences and observations and does so as one who has realized that she and her husband may have made some mistakes along the way.  As the former Dean of Freshman at a one of the nation’s leading universities (Stanford), she has a wealth of experience with those who over-parent and their children.

Chapters 1 - 5:  What We’re Doing Now

Ms. Lythcott-Haims opens her book noting that parents naturally want to keep their children safe as well as grow up to be successful.  While this in itself is good, things may have gone too far.  Just as a house that is too clean may actually contribute to childhood allergies and asthma http://www.webmd.com/allergies/news/20140606/too-clean-homes-may-encourage-child-allergies-asthma-study so too may over-parenting hinder the emotional development children.  She notes that parents are trying to raise adults so they should act accordingly.  Too often parents are doing too much for their children for far too long.  (This is not to be taken as an excuse to give children tasks, freedoms, or responsibilities earlier than would be appropriate.)  

Ms. Lythcott-Haims goes on to assert that our contemporary definition of success is defined far too narrowly.  This also has led parents to unintentionally harming their children.    It plays out in things such as the pressure children feel to get into “the right college” and overly competitive youth athletics. 

Chapters 6 - 11: Why We Must Stop Over-parenting

In chapters 6 through 11 Ms. Lythcott-Haims lays out her reasons why parents should avoid the over-parenting trap. 

6.   Kids need basic life skills and over-parenting is hindering them learning such.  If parents are doing it for them, they aren’t learning to do it them self and isn’t that what a parent wants in the end?  (This is not to be taken as an excuse to put too much on a child too soon.  The book comes from the point of view that parents are too often doing too much for their children for too long.)

7.   It hurts their psychological development.  The knowledge that one can do certain (age-appropriate) things for them self is a great source of self-confidence.    

8.   It fuels the overuse of attention medications like Ritalin and Adderall. 

9.   In the end it hurts their job prospects.  Nobody wants to hire the applicant that literally or figuratively tries to bring their mom or dad to the interview.    

10.                Over-parenting ends up stressing out the parents and hindering healthy marriages.   

11.                The push to get into a top college fails to recognize that there are LOTS of good colleges and “the college admission process is broken.”  (And many parents are highly competitive about the college their child gets into.)

Chapters 12 - 20: Another Way

Ms. Lythcott-Haims  encourages parents to avoid falling into the over-parenting trap.  She specifically suggests:

12.                There are other ways to parent than just over-parenting. 

13.                Children should have unstructured time.  (They don’t need every moment of their day scheduled.)

14.                Teach life skills.  Parent with an eye towards their eventual independence. 

15.                Teach them to work hard.

16.                Prepare them for hard work.

17.                Let them chart their own path. 

18.                Normalize struggle.

19.                Have a wider mindset about college.

20.                Listen to them.

Chapters 21 - 22: Daring To Parent Differently

The book concludes with two chapters on parenting “differently” in the modern age.

21.                Reclaim your self

22.                Be the parent you want to be


I hope that interested parents will consider reading the entire book for themselves.  This quick summary gives a nice overview, but of course can’t provide the depth of the full book.  For some information on the web regarding the issue of over-parenting and its effect on children, please look at:

·         http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2015/08/28/434350484/how-schools-are-handling-an-overparenting-crisis

·         http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2015/08/28/434350484/how-schools-are-handling-an-overparenting-crisis

·         http://people.howstuffworks.com/5-signs-of-overparenting.htm

·         https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/compassion-matters/201204/the-abuse-overparenting

·         http://www.huffingtonpost.com/abilash-gopal-md/helicopter-parenting-has-_b_9657534.html

Have a great summer!

Doug Muha Ed.S.
School Counselor
Waverly Elementary School

P.S.  Those that want to visit Ms. Lythcott-Haims web page may find it at: http://www.howtoraiseanadult.com/ 

46 - Positive Discipline Ch. 10 - 12

posted May 26, 2016, 7:36 AM by Doug Muha

Counselor Notes 46

April 8, 2016

Positive Discipline Chapters 10 - 12


Finishing up with Positive Discipline, we are now at the highlights of  chapters 10 through 12.

Chapter 10:  Personality: How Yours Affects Theirs

In the book Dr. Nelson emphasizes the point that “adults don’t realize … that any child which is misbehaving is subconsciously saying ‘I just want to belong, and I have some mistaken ideas about how to accomplish belonging.’”  (p. 141)






Worst Fear

Emotional and physical pain and stress

Humiliation; criticism; the unexpected

Rejection; abandonment; hassles

Meaninglessness; unimportance

Believes the way to avoid the worst fear is to:

Seek comfort, ask for special service; make others comfortable; choose the easiest way

Control self and/or others and/or situation

Please others

active – demand approval passive – evoke pity

Do more; be better than others; be right; be more useful; be more competent


Easygoing; few demands; minds own business; peacemaker; mellow; empathetic; predictable

Leadership; organized; productive; persistent; follows rules

Friendly; considerate; compromises; nonaggressive; volunteers

Knowledgeable; idealistic; persistent; social interest; gets things done.


Doesn’t develop talents; limits productivity; avoids personal growth

Rigid; doesn’t develop creativity, spontaneity, or social closeness

Doesn’t check with others about what pleases them; doesn’t take care of self.

Workaholic; overburdened; over-responsible; over-involved

Unknowingly invites from others

Annoyance; irritation; boredom; impatience

Rebellion; resistance; challenge; frustration

Pleasure at first and then demands for approval and reciprocation

Feelings of inadequacy and guilt; “How can I measure up?”; lying to avoid judgments

Creates and then complains about

Diminished productivity; impatience; lack of personal growth

Lack of friends and closeness; Feeling uptight

Lack of respect for self and others; resentment

Being overwhelmed; lack of time; “I have to do everything”



Chapter 11: Putting It All Together

Chapter 11 is a bit of a review of the book.  It reviews and reiterates  the following points (directly from the list on p. 286 – 287; see book for full details – one could misconstrue and then wrongly apply these):

1.   Take some cooling off time because you do better when you feel better.

2.   Decide what you will do instead of what you will try to get children to do.

3.   Let your children know in advance of what you will try to make children do.

4.   Use kind and firm action – not words.  (Keep your mouth shut and act.)

5.   When words are necessary, make them few and stated kindly and firmly.

6.   Use emotional withdrawal to stay out of power struggles and wait for a calm time to focus on solutions.

7.   Use  routine charts to avoid power struggles.

8.   Avoid bedtime hassles by sharing happiest and saddest moments while tucking children in.

9.   Avoid power struggles by getting children involved in solutions.

10.                Stay out of children’s fights – or treat children the same.

11.                First comfort the one who did the hurting.  Then invite that child to help you comfort the one who was hurt.

12.                Validate feelings.

13.                Give hugs.

14.                Use your sense of humor.

15.                Get children involved in mealtime planning, cooking, and cleaning.

16.                Establish nonverbal reminders with children for what needs to be done.

17.                Offer choices instead of making demands.

18.                Use “As soon as ___, then ____.”

19.                Use allowance money to teach money management not for punishment or reward.

Chapter 12: Love and Joy in Homes and Classrooms

Dr. Nelsen finishes Positive Discipline with three important parenting reminders:

1.   What we do is never as important as how we do it.

2.   See mistakes as opportunities to learn.

3.   Sometimes we have to learn the same thing over and over again.

She also reminds parents to:

·         Express your unconditional love

·         Teach and model communication and problem-solving skills.

·         Help children develop a sense of responsibility.

·         Take full responsibility for your part in any conflict.

·         Have compassion for yourself.

With all the technological advancements society has made, no one has come up with anything to make parenting any easier – at least not good parenting.  But on the other hand, few things are more rewarding.  Our roles as parents are worthy of our best efforts.  

Doug Muha Ed.S.
School Counselor
Waverly Elementary School

P.S.  Those that want to visit Dr. Nelsen’s Positive Discipline web page may find it at:http://www.positivediscipline.com/

45 - Positive Discipline Ch. 7 - 9

posted May 26, 2016, 7:35 AM by Doug Muha

Counselor Notes 45

March 10, 2016

Positive Discipline Chapters 7 - 9


Moving along through Positive Discipline, we are now at the highlights of  chapters 7 through 9.

Chapter 7:  Using Encouragement Effectively

In the book Dr. Nelson emphasizes the point that “adults don’t realize … that any child which is misbehaving is subconsciously saying ‘I just want to belong, and I have some mistaken ideas about how to accomplish belonging.’”  (p. 141)

In helping children learn better ways to belong, Dr. Nelson notes the importance of:

·         Timing – parents may need to time the encouragement they give their child to a time when the child can hear it.  (i.e. there may need to be a cooling off period.)

·         Mutual Respect – this “incorporates attitudes of (a) faith in the abilities of yourself and others (b) interest in the point of view of others as well as your own; and (c) willingness to take responsibility and ownership of your own contribution to the problem.”  (p. 143)

·         Noticing improvement instead of expecting perfection.

·         Redirecting Misbehavior – Find the positive attributes in misbehavior and put that to constructive use.

·         Making Amends – give the child ways to make up for the issues their misbehavior created.

·         Schedule “Special Time” with children. 

·         Encouragement Vs. Praise – Parents often have the mistaken idea that they can build their child’s self-esteem through praising them.  Dr. Nelson makes the important point that “self-esteem can’t be given or received, it is developed through a sense of capability and the self-confidence gained from dealing with disappointments, solving problems, and having lots of opportunities to learn from mistakes.”  (p. 157)


Chapter 8: Class Meetings

This is a chapter for classroom teachers so I will pass over it here. 


Chapter 9: Family Meetings

Dr. Nelsen uses family meetings as a cornerstone of resolving conflicts in a productive manner.  There are a number of nuances to running family meetings though.  The best information I can give you here is to see Dr. Nelson’s web page on family meetings:https://www.positivediscipline.com/articles/family-meetings

Psychology Today has a good web site with 10 tips on family meetings: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/emotional-fitness/201209/10-tips-holding-family-meeting

Other good sites on the topic include:

·         https://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/family-dynamics/Pages/How-to-Have-a-Family-Meeting.aspx

·         https://www.caregiver.org/holding-family-meeting

·         http://centerforparentingeducation.org/library-of-articles/healthy-communication/holding-family-meetings/ 

Dr. Nelsen’s Positive Discipline web page is at: http://www.positivediscipline.com/ 

Doug Muha Ed.S.
School Counselor
Waverly Elementary School


P.S.  Visitation with Ms. James' family is Saturday 3/12 (tomorrow) from 5 to 8 p.m. at the McEwen Baptist Church's Fellowship Hall.  At approximately 7 p.m. there will be a time for a sharing aloud of memories of Ms. James. 

P.P.S.  Psychology Today had another interesting article on probiotics.  Individuals who have children with anxiety &/or depression issues (or have those issues themselves) are encouraged to read it.  It can be found at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/201507/the-reach-probiotics?collection=1075813

44 - Grief

posted May 26, 2016, 7:35 AM by Doug Muha

Counselor Notes 44

March 4, 2016



As many parents know, Our beloved music teacher Ms. Libby James had a car accident on  the evening of February 23rd.  She went off Powers Blvd and hit a tree head on.  She suffered numerous injuries (13 broken ribs, broken left wrist, broken femur, broken ankle, and internal bleeding.)  She was in Vanderbilt's Trauma Unit and initial signs were encouraging.  That did not hold though and the middle of this week things quickly turned for the worse.  To our great sadness, she went into a coma and passed on late yesterday afternoon.   

Today in school students, classroom teachers have appraised students of our great loss.  As a whole, students have handled the situation as well as may be expected under the circumstances.  (Our 3rd Graders have known Ms. James for approaching 4 years now.)  Students talk about issues such as this at different times though - and may prefer talking about it with their family.  In light of that, I thought I might put out a few thoughts on helping grieving children.   

Different children have different temperaments and varying relationships with Ms. James.  Their reactions to the news will vary.  Pent up grief from other losses may surface.  (i.e. a child’s reaction may not be solely about the passing of Ms. James.  Grief over the loss of a grandparent, pet, friend, etc. may be turned up.)  

Make a time for your child to ask questions.  (The t.v. should be off!  Don’t have this discussion while you are driving a car.  Give the child your FULL attention.)

·         Let them ask any questions they have.  Be sure you understand what they are asking. 

·         Answer honestly and directly

·         It is okay to say “I don’t know”

·         Don’t use terms that may be misleading / confusing like “she’s sleeping”

·         Avoid saying things like “Don’t cry” or “It’ll be okay.”

·         Attempt to do more listening than talking.  Use active listening skills.

·         Having children tell their favorite stories may be helpful.

·         In the discussion include your religious beliefs!  I can tell you from experience that children have questions that we don’t answer at school.   


Children will grieve in different ways.  Some will not want to talk about it and that’s okay.   

Be ready to hug and pat on the shoulder, but also ready to give children a bit of space.

Be aware that younger children often think death is “reversible”   You should be truthful here, but it is not the time to attempt to “break” that belief.

Also be aware that more mature children may have “magical thinking” – thoughts that if they did something (ex: wore a lucky shirt or thought more kindly of her), Ms. James would still be okay.

Maintain normal family routines to the extent possible.

Young children can work out that which they can’t communicate through things like play and art.   Get them away from the television set and give them some “down time” with crayons / magic markers.

Creating a picture (with crayons or markers) for Ms. James’ family can give an outlet and direction to their feelings.

There are a plethora of children’s books on loss.  Select one along the lines of your theology and read it with them.

Children may not have questions or want to talk with you about Ms. James’ passing today.  If that is the case, respect it.  Don’t force the topic upon them thinking the child “needs to talk about it.”  Let it go.  They may want to talk about it at some future point in time, so do check back with them.

How we deal with loss often stems from how we were taught as children – early life experiences.  We are role models in dealing with loss.   Let us be good ones for helping the children here. 

Doug Muha Ed.S.
School Counselor
Waverly Elementary School


P.S.  Funeral arrangements are incomplete at this time. 

43 - Positive Discipline Ch. 4 - 6

posted May 26, 2016, 7:07 AM by Doug Muha   [ updated May 26, 2016, 7:10 AM ]

Counselor Notes 43

December 17, 2015

Positive Discipline Chapters 4 - 6


For this edition of the Counselor Notes, I am going to give some of the highlights of Positive Discipline’s chapters 4 through 6.

Chapter 4:  A New Look At Misbehavior

This is one of the longer chapters in the book – and one of the most important.  We act in accordance with our perceptions. If we perceive a situation accurately we are more like to react in ways that address a problem rather than make it worse.  

Dr. Nelsen breaks children’s problematic behavior down into four mistaken goals with the corresponding mistaken beliefs:

  1. 1.   Undue Attention – The mistaken belief: I belong only when I have your attention.
  2. 2.   Misguided Power – The mistaken belief: I belong only when I’m the boss, or at least when I don’t let you boss me.
  3. 3.   Revenge – The mistaken belief: I don’t belong, but at least I can hurt back.
  4. 4.   Assumed Inadequacy – The mistaken belief: It is impossible to belong.  I give up.

Dr. Nelsen gives a chart on these mistaken goals, how to identify them, and how to appropriately respond.  I have previously provided the chart in Counselor Notes #35 (Goals of Misbehavior).  It is posted on my web page which can be accessed from the school’s web site.  (Go to http://wes.hcss.org/then under “Parents and Students” select Counselor.  Previous issues of the notes are on the right hand side.  Click on the small “View More” near the bottom right hand side of the page and then scroll down the page.)

Dr. Nelsen provides a lot more detail in her book and I encourage parents to study it.  The approach may sound easy, but it is not so simple to gleam from merely reviewing a chart.  (And it is important to accurately perceive the child’s goal!)

Chapter 5: Beware of Logical Consequences

Logical / natural consequences are what logically / naturally happens when adults don’t step in.  (EX: You go outside on a cold day without a coat, you get cold.  You don’t treat your friends right, they don’t remain your friends.)  In this chapter, Dr. Nelsen makes a number of important points:

“… most logical consequences are poorly designed punishments.”  (p. 98)

“Some children decide not to repeat the behavior that caused the punishment, but they do so because of fear and intimidation, not because they have adopted principles regarding right and wrong.”  (p. 98)

“… adults may think they are winning many discipline battles.  However they have inevitably lost the discipline war when children are inspired to get even, avoid detection, or conform out of fear or a sense of worthlessness.”  (p. 99)

Dr. Nelsen acknowledges that when uses correctly logical consequences can be effective with children at times.  She does advise to be sure it isn’t just punishment in disguise and to avoid the “I told you so” type comments.  (She also notes that there are times you can’t use them.  An example would be you don’t use natural consequences to teach a child not to play in the street.)

From Dr. Nelsen’s point of view, parents who make the “I told you so” type  comments “…actually lessens the learning that can occur from experiencing natural consequences because a child stops processing the experience and focuses on absorbing or defending against the blame, shame, and pain.”  (p. 101) 

Chapter 6: Focusing on Solutions

“Positive discipline focuses on teaching children what to do because they have been invited to think through the situation and use some basic guidelines, such as respect and helpfulness, to find solutions.  They are active participants in the process, not passive (and often resistant) receivers.  Children start making better behavior choices because it makes sense to them and because it feels good to be treated with respect and to treat others with respect.”  (p. 122) 

The theme for focusing on solutions is: What is the problem and what is the solution?  Children are excellent problem solvers and have many creative ideas for helpful solutions when adults take time for training and allow many opportunities for them to use their problem-solving skills.”  (p. 123)

Dr. Nelsen promotes solutions to issues being: related, respectful, reasonable, and helpful.  She cautions against using things that are more harmful than helpful.

Though not a big supporter of using time-out, Dr. Nelsen does advocate for cooling off periods when called for.  One does a much better job generating helpful solutions to problems when they are in a frame of mind that can actually think clearly.  (A highly frustrated, aggravated or despondent frame of mind is not going to be much use in generating helpful solutions.)

In helping children explore the consequences of their choices, Dr. Nelsen is not one to ask they child “Why?”  That is seen as too accusatory and creating defensiveness.  Instead she advocates parents be in the proper frame of mind (i.e. not upset), not having an agenda, and using “curiosity questions” to help the child process situations.  Some of her suggested curiosity questions are:

·         What were you trying to accomplish?
·         How do you feel about what happened?
·         What do you think caused it to happen?
·         What did you learn from this?
·         How can you use in the future what you learned?
·         What ideas do you have for a solution now?

I do hope parents will consider picking up Dr. Nelsen’s book (or some other parenting book of your choosing).  Parenting isn’t easy and just trying to do it (or in some cases, avoid doing it) the way your parents did you may not necessarily be the best approach for these times.  

When all these school days are past, your children have “left the nest”, and you get a chance to reflect back on your life, what more important thing will you have done than the proper raising of your child/children?  May you look back on your efforts knowing that you did your very best.  Dr. Nelsen’s  book can help you achieve that.

Those that want to visit Dr. Nelsen’s web page may find it at :http://www.positivediscipline.com/  

Doug Muha Ed.S.
School Counselor
Waverly Elementary School

P.S.  Disney is about to release “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” to an eager public.  I look forward to seeing it myself.  The reason I bring it up at all is this movie is rated PG-13.  For those that may have forgotten, PG-13 means “parents strongly cautioned” against letting elementary school age children see the movie as “some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.”  Please note that again some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.   

Just because the country is caught up in anticipation of the movie and merchandise from the movie is already all over the store shelves, doesn’t mean that elementary school age children should be seeing it!  (And what should we make of those the market things to elementary school age children – or younger – from movies that parents are “strongly cautioned” against letting the child see?)

Who is going to protect the innocence of childhood if not their parents?

42 - Positive Discipline Chapters 1 - 3

posted Dec 17, 2015, 12:29 PM by Doug Muha

Counselor Notes 42

December 4, 2015

Positive Discipline Chapters 1 - 3


For this school year, I had said that I wanted to delve into parenting using the books Positive Discipline by Jane Nelsen Ed.D. and How To Raise An Adult by Julie Lythcott-Haims. 

For Counselor Notes #42, I am going to pass along some thoughts from the first three chapters of Positive Discipline.  It would be a gross error to think that one newsletter is going to a great job covering three chapters of a book.  So while I am passing along some highlights, I do hope it will create enough interest for parents to go out and get a copy of the book.  (And read it!  In one’s later years, it is a lot easier to find peace of mind if one feels they have been successful as a parent.)

Chapter 1:   The Positive Approach

One of the more interesting things in this chapter is Dr. Nelsen assertion  that kids growing up today are facing two changes that earlier generations did not face to the degree this one has.  I found them interesting as I had not heard the differences in today’s children from earlier generations explained this way before and it makes some sense.  The first is that “adults no longer give children an example or role model of submissiveness and obedience.”  She also notes that this isn’t necessarily bad.  Moms don’t have to be submissive to dads.  As there has been progress towards equality of the sexes, so to has there been progress in equality among the races.  (It is not my intention to get into a debate about how much room for improvement remains, just that things are better than they were say 50 years ago.) 

The second factor Nelsen notes is that “in today’s society, children have fewer opportunities to learn responsibility and motivation.  We no longer need children as important contributors to economic survival.”

Dr. Nelsen is big on the idea that to make a kid do better you don’t need to make them feel worse.  Her four criteria of effective discipline (p. 16) are:

1.  Is it kind and firm at the same time?  (Respectful and encouraging

2.  Does it help children feel a sense of belonging and significance?  (Connection)

3.  Is it effective long-term?  (Punishment works in the short term, but has negative long term results.)

4.  Does it teach valuable social and life skills for good character?

Chapter 2: Some Simple Concepts

Four Steps for Winning Cooperation

1.   Express understanding for the child’s feelings.  Be sure to check with him or her to see if you are right.

2.   Show empathy without condoning.  Empathy does not mean you agree or condone.  It simply means that you understand the child’s perception.  A nice touch here is to share times when you felt or behaved similarly.

3.   Share your feelings and perceptions.  If the first two steps have been done in a sincere and friendly manner, the child will be ready to listen to you.

4.   Invite the child to focus on a solution.  Ask if he/she has any idea on what to do in the future to avoid the problem.  If he doesn’t, offer some suggestions until you can reach an agreement.

A child’s primary goal is to belong and to feel significant.

A misbehaving child is a discouraged child.

Make sure that the message of love gets through.


Chapter 3: The Significance of Birth Order

This chapter focuses on the impact a child’s spot in the birth order has.  The oldest child has a slightly different situation growing up than would the youngest.  Only children face some different factors.  In a family of three children, middle children have some unique factors impacting them.  The impact of the birth order often is overlooks and it shouldn’t be.  Those interested in reading more on this can get a great deal of information from this chapter.  There are plenty of sources on the web regarding the influence of birth order on your child’s personality.  Here are three:




The next issue of the notes will cover Chapters 4 through 6.  It should be out before the winter break.  In the mean time, those that want to learn more a little more about Positive Discipline may want to visit Dr. Nelsen’s web page may find it at: http://www.positivediscipline.com/  

Doug Muha Ed.S.
School Counselor
Waverly Elementary School

041 - Personality Types

posted Dec 2, 2015, 6:37 AM by Doug Muha

Counselor Notes 41

April 22, 2015

Personality Types 

For this issue, I thought I might bring in something fun for the parents: a personality inventory.   One way psychologists look at personality is along four distinct spectrums.  Knowing an individual’s preference on each of the four spectrums reveals a personality type.

Your personality type is going to have an impact on many aspects of your life including parenting, romantic relations, and leadership.  Different personality types have different ways of interacting with others.  You will likely better understand those whose personality type is most similar to your own.  (As fate would have it, we tend to marry people with the complete opposite personality type.)  Personality types also tend to cluster together in specific occupations.   If you are aware of which type you are, then you can learn the strengths and weakness of that type.  Knowing the type of your friends, spouse/significant, boss, subordinates other can reveal insights into them.  (Children are too young for this inventory.)

Those that want to see what type they are encouraged to try the free 72 question yes/no Jung Typology Test at  http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/JTypes2.asp    (They call it a test but it would better be termed an inventory or “type indicator” as there is no right/wrong answer, just preferences.)  The inventory is free though they will offer you some more feedback for a small fee.  You need not buy the extra feedback, there are plenty of sites on the internet that will give you free feedback based on your “type.”  Here are a few that I like:



http://keirsey.com/4temps/overview_temperaments.asp (links to the specific types are on the right hand side)

You can find a listing of famous historical figures as well as contemporary celebrities at http://www.celebritytypes.com/istj.php (PLEASE NOTE: this link is for ISTJ’s.  To find the information for your code, you will have to click on the link for that code on the left hand side of the page.)  

A few notes though before anyone starts jumping to broad sweeping conclusions based on their type:

1.   These types of inventories put everyone in one of 16 different categories and things just aren’t that simple.  There are 4 scales and the types are derived from individuals clearly at the ends of the spectrum.  Most people lie somewhere in between the two poles/extremes. The most accurate profiles of type are for people with the most distinct preferences.  Those closer to the middle aren’t going to be as clearly “pegged” by the inventory.   

2.   No profile is better than another, though it will give advantages and disadvantages depending upon the job one is in.

3.   Personality types can change, but for adults major shifts along any of the spectrums is uncommon.  (Though individuals with slight preferences may find that a later administration of the inventory show a slight preference for the opposite type.)

Those who really enjoy this sort of thing and want to play around with it a bit more are encouraged to purchase the book Please Understand Me by David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates (1984) or Please Understand Me II by David Keirsey (1998).  I like the first one better than the second, but both are quite enjoyable.  They aren’t expensive either – each is under $20.  (Used copies are even cheaper.)  You can read a lot more about yourself as well as give the personality inventory to others.  Keirsey also has a web site http://www.keirsey.com/ , but I have never tried it.  (There are fees involved.)


Doug Muha Ed.S.
School Counselor
Waverly Elementary School

P.S.  According to Time Magazine http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1176994-1,00.html, 89 out of the Fortune 100 companies use the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (essentially a longer version of the humanmetrics inventory) in hiring and promoting.   The article also notes that at least 3 in 10 employers use personality tests in hiring.

040 - Mindset

posted Dec 2, 2015, 6:35 AM by Doug Muha   [ updated Dec 2, 2015, 6:42 AM ]

Counselor Notes 40

April 14, 2015


As we approach the yearly standardized testing (TCAP), I would like to point out to parents that so-called “intelligence” may not be something that is completely fixed at birth.  Dr. Carol Dweck of Stanford University wrote an interesting book on the way we view things (which includes intelligence) that has some application here.  The book is called Mindset (ISBN # 1-4000-6275-6) and here are a few interesting quotes from it:

     “Whether human qualities are things that can be cultivated or things that are carved in stone is an old issue.  What these beliefs mean for you is a new one: What are the consequences of thinking that your intelligence or personality is something you can develop, as opposed to something that is a fixed, deep-seated trait?”  p.4

     “... Robert Sternberg, the present day guru of intelligence, writes that the major factor in whether people achieve expertise 'is not some fixed prior ability, but purposeful engagement.'  Or as his forerunner Binet recognized, it's not always the people who start out the smartest who end up the smartest.”  p. 5

     “... my research has shown that the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life....”  “Believing that your qualities are carved in stone – the fixed mindset – creates an urgency to prove yourself over and over.”   “...Every situation is evaluated: Will I success or fail?  Will I look smart or dumb?  Will I be accepted or rejected?  Will I feel like a winner or loser?”  p. 6

     “In this (the growth) mindset, the hand you're dealt is just the starting point for development.  This growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts.  Although people may differ in every which way – in their initial talents and aptitudes, interests, or temperaments – everyone can change and grow through application and experience.”  p. 7 

     (We).... “were trying to understand why some students were so caught up in proving their ability, while others could just let go and learn.  Suddenly we realized that there were two meanings to ability, not one: a fixed ability that needs to be proven, and a changeable ability that can be developed through learning.”  p. 15 

     “At the University of Hong Kong, everything is in English.  Classes are in English, textbooks are in English, and exams are in English.  But some students who enter the university are not fluent in English, so it would make sense for them to do something about it in a hurry.”  

     “...we asked them (students not fluent in English)... if the faculty offered a course for students who need to improve their English skill, would you take it?....”  

     “Later we looked at who said yes to the English course.  Students with the growth mindset said an empathic yes.  But those with the fixed mindset were not very interested.”

     “Believing that success is about learning, students with the growth mindset seized the chance.  But those with the fixed mindset didn't want to expose their deficiencies.  Instead, to feel smart in the short run, they were willing to put their college careers at risk.”  p. 17 – 18

I think that the teachers of Waverly Elementary School would agree that “purposeful engagement” really does help students grow and that their “intelligence” isn’t locked in at birth.  The TCAP test is designed to measure the gains students make through “application and experience.”  Parents who are interested in their child doing well on TCAP and life’s more important things would do well strive to cultivate the growth mindset within their child/children.

As the famous inventor Thomas Edison once said: “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety nine percent perspiration.”

Doug Muha Ed.S.
School Counselor
Waverly Elementary School

039 - Attitude, Attendance, and School Performance

posted Dec 2, 2015, 6:34 AM by Doug Muha

Counselor Notes 39

March 27, 2015

Attitude, Attendance, and School Performance

In the book Raising Cain by psychologists Dr. Dan Kindlon and Dr. Michael Thompson they cite a rather interesting statistic:

“... Greg Duncan of Northwestern University, along with colleagues at the University of Michigan, studied a group of more than a thousand intact families in the United States over the course of twenty seven years, examining many aspects of family life that were thought to be influential in determining the future occupations and incomes of their children....  Of the dozen or so factors they considered, father attendance at PTA meetings was the most influential in terms of the child's income at age twenty-seven.” (p. 99)

I am sending this out just prior to our Parent – Teacher conferences for a reason.  I don’t think it is as simple as if the father would attend Parent – Teacher conferences their child would achieve more materially later in life.  Rather I think it is the attitude held in such households – the attitude that school is important.  It is so important that the fathers make the effort to attend the conferences. 

So while I would certainly encourage fathers (and mothers) to attend parent-teacher conferences, I am more interested in putting emphasis on families doing the things to show that school is important.  At the elementary school level, some things to do that are:

1.   Send your child to school each day.  If they aren’t sick, they should be in school. 

2.   Get them here on time.

3.   Leave them here for the full day.  Make every effort to schedule necessary appointments with health professionals on days the child doesn’t have school.  Don’t pick them up early because you are “in the area.”

4.   Check homework and sign their daily report.

5.   Communicate with the teacher.  When the child complains of a situation in school, check with the teacher before taking the child’s word for it.   Teachers have to make an incredible amount of decisions each day as they go about teaching and supervising the children in their class.  They may make mistakes occasionally, but they also have A LOT of experience dealing with children and they also get to lean on the experience of their peers who have “been around the block” a few times as well. 

Education can help a child earn more later in life.  Making school a priority can help.  The U.S. Department of Labor  http://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_chart_001.htm  notes:

Chart. Earnings and unemployment rates by educational attainment

Education does pay off so please do those things that help establish it as a priority.

“The research also shows how these missed days as early as preschool translate into weaker reading skills…. Good attendance habits begin at home with the right messages from parents and caregivers.”  http://www.attendanceworks.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Attendance-in-the-Early-Grades.pdf

“Students with poor attendance in the month before taking the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress scored significantly lower on the test than their peers who had no absences in that time frame, a new analysis by Attendance Works finds.”   http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/rulesforengagement/2014/09/attendance_affects_achievement_study_provides_state-by-state_look.html

I am not trying to say that material attainment is the goal of life.  I would note though that it stands to reason that in today’s world a well educated child will be more likely to “be all they can be” than a poorly educated child.  That being said, then I would encourage parents to establish in your child’s mind that school is a priority and do so by getting them to school every day, on time, and leaving them here for the full day.   Help them with homework and communicate with the teacher.   They’ll thank you later.

Doug Muha Ed.S.
School Counselor
Waverly Elementary School

038 - Emotional Intelligence

posted Dec 1, 2015, 1:16 PM by Doug Muha

Counselor Notes 38

March 23, 2015

Emotional Intelligence

A study once done at Bell Labs in northern N.J. sought to see why some extremely intelligent people were not rising as high in the corporate hierarchy as might be expected by their superior I.Q.’s.  The researchers found that those geniuses that “flamed out” did so because of interpersonal flaws.  The study saw those that those who were building good relationships with others before they needed cooperation from them were the ones getting ahead.  These people had “emotional intelligence.” 

On the back of jacket of the best seller Emotional Intelligence, author Daniel Goleman (ISBN # 0-553-37506-7) “argues that our view of human intelligence is far too narrow, ignoring a crucial range of abilities that matter immensely in terms of how we do in life.”

Now if that is all true, emotional intelligence would be pretty important stuff! 

I have an article that claims IQ counts for about 20% of the factors that determine a person's success in life.  The other 80% come from their EI (Emotional Intelligence).  The article goes on to label the biggest components of E.I. as:

1.   Self-Awareness - the ability to recognize your own feelings as they are occurring (not just the surface ones, but the deeper feelings as well). 

2.   Mood Management - You may not be able to control what emotions hit, but you should have a lot of control over how long those moods last.  (Rage is generally the toughest to manage)

3.   Self Motivation - the ability to muster up feelings of enthusiasm, zeal and confidence.  An optimistic outlook helps immensely (and this type of optimism can be learned).

4.   Impulse Control - the ability to sacrifice short term interests to achieve long term goal (ability to delay gratification).

5.   People Skills - The ability to understand how another person feels (empathy).


University of Washington psychologist John Gottman Ph.D. wrote a book called “Raising An Emotionally Intelligent Child”  (ISBN 978-0-684-83865-6).  In the book Gottman talks of helping children become emotionally intelligent by parents being emotional coaches to their children.  He says the process typically happens in five steps (p. 24):

1.   The parents become aware of the children’s emotion (i.e. what the child is feeling);

2.   Recognize the emotion as an opportunity for intimacy and teaching;

3.   Listen empathically, validating the child’s feelings (i.e. support the child feeling as they do without condoning any negative behavior);

4.   Help the child find words to label the emotion he/she is having; and

5.   Set limits while exploring strategies to solve the problem at hand.  (i.e. Help the child find appropriate ways to deal with the emotion.  Do not allow negative behavior in doing so.  Children still need to respect other’s rights.)

(For more details, please see the book.  It is safe to assume that Daniel Goleman liked the book as he wrote the introduction.) 

As so much of our own behavior is copied by our children, it stands to reason that parents would do well to become as emotionally intelligent as possible.  The site http://core.eqi.org/summary.htm offers these ten tips on developing your emotional intelligence: 

1. Become emotionally literate. Label your feelings, rather than labeling people or situations.

Use three word sentences beginning with "I feel".

Start labeling feelings; stop labeling people & situations

"I feel impatient." vs "This is ridiculous." I feel hurt and bitter". vs. "You are an insensitive jerk."

"I feel afraid." vs. "You are driving like an idiot."

2. Distinguish between thoughts and feelings.

Thoughts: I feel like...& I feel as if.... & I feel that

Feelings: I feel: (feeling word)

3. Take more responsibility for your feelings.

"I feel jealous." vs. "You are making me jealous."

Analyze your own feelings rather than the action or motives of other people. Let your feelings help you identify your unmet emotional needs.

4. Use your feelings to help make decisions

"How will I feel if I do this?" "How will I feel if I don't?"

"How do I feel?" "What would help me feel better?"

Ask others "How do you feel?" and "What would help you feel better?"

5. Use feelings to set and achieve goals

- Set feeling goals. Think about how you want to feel or how you want others to feel. (your employees, your clients, your students, your children, your partner)

- Get feedback and track progress towards the feeling goals by periodically measuring feelings from 0-10. For example, ask clients, students, teenagers how much they feel respected from 0 to 10.

6. Feel energized, not angry.

Use what others call "anger" to help feel energized to take productive action.

7. Validate other people's feelings.

Show empathy, understanding, and acceptance of other people's feelings.

8. Use feelings to help show respect for others.

How will you feel if I do this? How will you feel if I don't? Then listen and take their feelings into consideration.

9. Don't advise, command, control, criticize, judge or lecture to others.

Instead, try to just listen with empathy and non-judgment.

10. Avoid people who invalidate you.

While this is not always possible, at least try to spend less time with them, or try not to let them have psychological power over you.

(Please visit the site for a few other quick tips and/or to take advantage of the links offered there.)

For those that want to try a quick test of their own emotional intelligence, there is one at Discovery Health  http://cl1.psychtests.com/bin/transfer?req=NDF8Mjk5OHwxMTQzMDM1fDB8MQ==&refempt .  It is free and relatively quick (10 question) E.I. test, but do know that it has not been checked for accuracy.  (i.e. don’t put too much stock in the results.) 

Those with questions can email me. I will also be available during parent teacher conferences next Monday night (3/30/15) from 3:15 to 7:15 p.m.

Doug Muha Ed.S.
School Counselor
Waverly Elementary School

P.S.  Last week another study was published showing omega 3 fatty acids helpful for attention problems.   http://www.foxnews.com/health/2015/03/20/omega-3-supplements-may-help-boys-with-adhd/    (Counselor Notes #16 dealt with omega 3 fatty acids and attention in more depth.)  The effectiveness of omega 3 fatty acids MAY be in part due to their ability to reduce inflammation.  (Counselor Notes #18 explored inflammation and attention.)

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