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Posts Tagged ‘parenting’

Behavioral Style Analysis – The Parent Trap – Part 2: The Parents

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

Last post we discussed how behavioral style analysis is an instinctive part of parenting – at least the observational skill, if not the vocabulary and structure. In the discussion we mentioned that the parent’s own behavior profile can indicate a tendency to “side” with one child over another if that child’s communication preferences are driven by a similar behavior style as the parent’s style. It is important to realize that behaviors are not necessarily inherited. Just because Mom is a High D, doesn’t mean that her kids will share that behavioral emphasis.

A parent’s style might match one child, but not another. On the one hand this similarity might make for a strong bond of empathy with the one child, but on the other hand could lead to behavior-based communication problems with the other. Stress will induce different communication issues among people with differing DISC profiles, regardless of whether the relationship is between parent and child, siblings, or among co-workers.

What if the parent’s DISC behavior differs from all the children? Imagine a High C father with a High D daughter and one son who is a high S and another who is a high I. The father values credibility, procedures and attention to detail, the daughter is bold and authoritative, one son is gregarious and demonstrative, the other is passive, but resistant to change. So what happens when each of these kids breaks their curfew? The father is irate because of the disobedience and disrespect for established rules, He’s perhaps overly critical of the excuses: well not in the daughter’s case because as a High D she offers no excuses – simply states what her objectives in staying out late were and has difficulty understanding why they are an issue. The High I son stayed out late to curry favor with his friends, he’s extremely apologetic and willing to make amends with his father, because that’s who he is in front of right now, but he is likely to bend to the peer pressure again should the occasion arise. The High S son on the other hand probably only stayed out past curfew because of some unusual stress or necessity – it’s not in his nature to break routine – his father’s frustration is only compounding an already distressed state.

Of course this is a hypothetical scenario, but the point is that for all of us, behavioral patterns can lead to very different perspectives on a given situation. Parents that are aware of this can provide guidance that is aligned with the child’s behavior instead of carrying an expectation based on the parent’s own DISC profile. By recognizing the daughter’s competitiveness and boldness, the one son’s political behavior, and the other’s tendency to be non-demonstrative, he will be on the path to attaining the insight to temper his initial over-critical response with one adapted to each child’s individual DISC style.

Behavioral Style Analysis – The Parent Trap

Sunday, July 25th, 2010

Often when I give lectures or training classes I’ll ask the parents in the room, “for those of you with more than one kid, at what age did you realize they didn’t act the same?” Usually they laugh and say they realized in the first few months, some even say they noticed the difference before the younger child was even born. I tell them, “see… you’re already practitioners of behavioral style observation.”

If you’re a parent it’s only natural, you’re going to become out of necessity a keen observer of your children’s behavior. Day after day of close inspection and interaction are bound to define your reflexes based on behavioral expectations: you figure out that your daughter is very detail-oriented in the way she carefully arranges her doll collection, or you note that your youngest son always seems to be directing his friends as to which game they’re going to play today. Or another parent realizes that his daughter always wants the same peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch every day, while his son never cares because he always swaps his lunch because he seems to be friends with every kid in school. Mothers and fathers get to put in lots of hours observing and comparing, but what they may not have is the vocabulary to identify that the girl with the super-organized dolls is a high C, the boy who is setting the playtime goals is a high D, the girl who likes to stick to the same routine for lunch everyday is a high S, or that the boy who knows every kid in school is a high I. Yet vocabulary aside, the parents clearly understand the differences that each child expresses through his or her actions, but without the blueprint of a structured approach to understanding behavior as provided by DISC profiles, they are in a disadvantaged position when handling collisions of behavioral style.

When the High I boy with tons of friends takes his sister’s PB&J sandwich to trade with his buddy who said he likes peanut butter, he’s just following his impulsive behavioral pattern of trying to please and influence, not realizing that he may be creating an avalanche of stress for his sister, the High S, who is now very distraught to have the reassuring stability of her expected sandwich being unexpectedly replaced by her brother’s turkey on wheat. Further, if the parent is unaware of his or her own behavioral style they may fall into a biased reaction to the incident. If the mother is also a High I, she might be led by her behavioral disposition to take the son’s side, while the High S father might see the issue as stress-inducing his daughter does.

The parental dilemma grows as the kids get older and are exposed to an increasing number of influences and experiences that are outside of the parent’s sphere of observation. Expectations set by past patterns of behavior may be jarringly disrupted by the emergence of behavioral shifts so often seen during the teen years. Here again, the trained DISC behaviorist has an advantage in deciphering the puzzle of disruption due to inconsistent behavior. Proper DISC profiling examines and charts both natural and adapted behavioral profiles – shifting environments and peer dynamics are as likely to cause behavioral adaptations as any stressful office – understanding modifications of behavior and the gap between natural and adapted styles can give the experienced behavioral strategist data points for understanding that a typical parent wouldn’t have at their disposal.

On the other hand teenagers are just weird 🙂

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