Why You Do What You Do


Julie and I have been teaching Positive Discipline for a few years now.  My (least) favorite activity is called “Top Card”.  I just did a Google search of this phrase, and it showed a link to the game “Magic, the Gathering” (my sons will be so pleased.)  In any case, I think Top Card refers to the “place” (in our minds) that we go to when stressed, our “home port”, to use another metaphor.  Lynn, feel free to correct me.

This is a personality inventory, like the Myers-Briggs, the colors, etc.  This is the simplest and most helpful, to me, and I have done them all.  I am, of course, the worst one: superior.  At our worst, we cause others to feel what we are working so hard to avoid feeling, like a toxic game of hot potato.  Ugh.

Anyway, I think this game is helpful for parents.  First of all, we can never be reminded too many times that not everyone sees the world as we do, and, by corollary, not all of our opinions are right.  Yes, that is not fun, but it is helpful, if you live with other people.  And parents, by definition, live with other people.  People with undeveloped frontal lobes, in fact.  So, the more insight we have, the better.

There are four types: pleasers, controllers, superiors and turtles (well, conflict-avoiders).  (They each have a helpful animal, check it out.) If you can explore this in a group, it can help to clarify where you are, as many of us share a bit of several “cards”.

Briefly, from the parenting angle, pleasers have trouble “not-pleasing” their children.  One parent said to me “I’m not the kind of person to make my child cry!”  Well, children cry.  A lot.  Our job is not to control their feelings, but to be kind, firm and empathetic.  And to teach them some skills.  Like dealing with disappointment.  (Sorry, got superior there for a moment.)  Pleasers are awesome people to be around, unless they have tried too hard to please you, in which case they might explode in your face.

Controllers have a strong sense of order, and are whacked out by disorder and chaos.  And children are a little chaos-making.  When controllers get stressed they order everything and everyone.  It helps to offer to help, and to remind them that things are perfect enough. And to go for a walk. These folks are the ones you want to fix your car, or your brain.

Superiors (like Gandhi and Hitler) are motivated by high (or low) ideals, and a vision of “better-ness.”  This can make them inspiring and visionary, or single minded and bitchy.  As parents, they need to be reminded that others may be motivated by different values, and to come down off the pedestal and hang out.

Conflict avoiders are wonderful peacemakers and can get along with anyone. They may need to be reminded to stand up for themselves before they feel too put upon, and that their input is needed as well.  “We need you, turtles!!!”

Remember, we all have gifts, as well as some crazy baggage that we bring along for the ride.  Being aware of both keeps us real, and helps us laugh.


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