Love & Logic: Review Part 1

One would think that a clinical social worker can handle herself and her children in the best manner – at all times – how not true that statement is!

Parenting and motherhood is THE hardest thing I have EVER done in my entire life! I taught multiple parent trainings that centered around self care, emotional awareness, regulation skills and cognitive stimulation. These trainings only grazed the surface on what all went in to parenthood, but I felt like I knew more than the average person about child development and what to do in tricky situations. Boy was I wrong…ha

Making the decision to start a family is a HUGE decision in one’s relationship. It comes with life style changes, husband and wife challenges, and oh yeah…those cute little babies! The thing with babies is they grow up and turn in to toddlers, threenagers and beyond – all with their own challenges.

If you’ve been reading my posts, you know that I our oldest daughter has given me a run for my money lately (check out these posts here and here to get an idea of what I’m talking about). The two kid challenge has really tested my social work skills and mommy brain – now with the third on the way (within 2 weeks!) – my stress level has peaked.

With all this going on I decided I need to stop complaining and start doing something about all my miscues and stress level. I went back to some training material and was reminded about a few different parenting books that were used to give tips and tricks during parent training. One of which was Parenting With Love And Logic by Cline and Fay.

I have not opened this book since my early social work years, and have yet to finish it – there are so many good points that I figured a mid book summary was okay! I will say, I am not TOTALLY convinced on EVERY.SINGLE.THING they promote, but the general gist of the book and the ability it has already had to make me stop and think about my words is working for me.

Cline and Fay begin the book by talking about the basic premise of being a “Love and Logic Parent”. This meaning that the parents are raising responsible children who learn from their mistakes and consequences – whether positive or negative – (they call them Significant Learning Opportunities). A Love & Logic parent helps their children “move from total dependence on us to independence, from being controlled by us to controlling themselves.” This theme carries itself throughout the entire book and is referred back to throughout the scenarios and tips given.

They jump next in to different parenting styles – and here is my disclaimer: I am not promoting any of these nor am I trying to make anyone feel guilty about which one they “fall” under. I think each person needs to find what works best for them and focus on improving that skill as a parent. I find myself in different categories that they describe at different times in my motherhood – I’m trying to focus on changing some things I do personally that works best for my kids and my family and so should you!

  • Helicopter Parent – Cline and Fay describe these parents as those who are always coming to rescue their child. They run lunches, permission slips, homework to school. They are always pulling their children out of a jam. “Whenever their children send up an SOS flare, helicopter parents, who are ready hovering nearby, swoop in and shield their children from teachers, playmates and other elements that appear hostile”.
    • Cline and Fay feel that these types of parents are loving, but depriving children from learning. “Such children are unequipped for the challenges of life. Their significant learning opportunities were stolen from them in the name of love.”
  • Drill Sergeant Parents – They love their children and the more they “bark orders and the more they control”, the better their kids will be in the long run. They are constantly told what to do.
    • “Kids of drill sergeant parents, when given the chance to think for themselves, often make horrendous decisions…these kids are rookies in the world of decision making”. Cline and Fay claim that these types of children are followers because they never learned how to make decisions for themselves.
  • The Consultant Parent – “Love & Logic Parent” As children grow, they move from being concrete thinkers to being abstract thinkers when they are teens. Children need thoughtful guidance and firm, enforceable limits. The authors state that as children grow into adolescents, this parenting style becomes even more important.
    • Children have been taught to make their own decisions. They are offered choices while young (but can still be started in teen years) which forces them to think about choices and the consequences. “In order for children to succeed, their kids need to learn to make their own decisions.”

According to Cline and Fay, being a consultant parent is “the” way to go – again to each their own, and I have found myself at times in all three of these categories. I’m stating again that I am LOVING this book for the fact that it is making me stop in my tracks, reflect on how I interact with my children, and forcing myself to make a better choice of words or actions next time the situation arises.

Multiple examples are given throughout the book which help with understanding – most of which pertain to a little bit older children, but the underlying meaning is still relevant. The authors also put in “Love and Logic Tips” that are excerpts of personal stories they use as teaching moments. These are SUPER helpful and easy to refer back to when needing a refresher.

I think the hardest part of parenting, which they nail on the head AND encourage, is that we as parents have to see our children fail. I mean how hard is that?!?! Look at these cuties and tell me you don’t want to help them not ever have to feel trials!



However, through these failures come consequences (they refer to them as Significant Learning Opportunities) and are the lessons that children need to learn. The positive end of this for us parents is through these SLOs, children learn responsibility and independence. “Children who grow in responsibility also grow in self-esteem, a pre-requisite for achievement in the real world…there is a direct correlation between self-concept and performance in school, at home , on the playground, or wherever children may be. Kids learn best and are responsible when they feel good about themselves.”

So far I am enjoying this book. The many examples and phrases they say NOT to do, I have done – and they couple that with what I should be saying to create a lasting relationship with my kids. I love that it is making me stop and think – as that is how I best learn as a parent – and learn new ways to interact with Paisley and Carson. It is helping me step towards my goal of 2017, which is to become a better mother, wife and friend.

I will continue to post reviews of this book as I get further in to it. If you have any questions along the way, do not hesitate to ask me! I’d be happy to give my opinion (and it is JUST that…my opinion – you are the expert of your own life!) and what the book suggests one to do.

Thanks for reading!


The Last Year of My 20s

I feel like I have posted a lot about reflecting on my past – days, weeks or years – and over time I find that it helps me refocus on changes that I have said I would work on, or focus on what skills I need to improve on.

I write this today on my birthday – my 29th birthday, a.k.a. the last one before the big 3-0! I want to focus on the past year and all the changes that have occurred which bring me to where I am today – a nervous wreck half the time, and a well managed/organized pleasant person the other half! ha

Last year, Brian and I packed up our belongings and moved to California. A land we had never lived in before, where we knew no one. It is by a HUGE blessing from God that we landed where we are. The friends we have here are AMAZING and I’m so glad we felt the need to buy the house we did. We’ve been blessed beyond measure in both Brian’s career opportunity as well as our family’s well-being with this move and leap of faith.

We also had the pleasant (and some what scary) surprise of getting the chance to welcome a new baby into our family. Everyone says the 3rd kid is what did them in…so we welcome all the positive thoughts and baby wisdom you have! We are very excited, but at the same time a little nervous to see how this one goes.

Every time I feel overwhelmed, I think back to my daily scripture study and how that is helping reassure current decisions we make and my mothering skills. Through countless trials and tribulations, there are many examples of people overcoming these fears through trusting in the Lord. That is what I am aiming to do. I know there are feelings of insecurity throughout my daily life (in all aspects!), but putting my trust in Him is only helping me push through. This faith and hope of good is what helped us get to where we as a family are today.

If we hadn’t trusted Him with a move to California, the house and ward we are in, and the thoughts of adding another baby to our family I’m not sure where we would be. Brian and I have grown closer as a couple and stronger as parents. Our children have met some pretty amazing friends and found out what it is like to strengthen those relationships. We have been blessed beyond measure as a family and both Brian and my testimony have grown!

Even though I’m a bit nervous about this upcoming year, I am excited to see what it brings. Our new baby will be here in a month or so (OMGOSH!!!!!), a new sister (Cannot believe my brother is getting married! But so excited for their future!!!), and there is an upcoming BIG changes for our family – will give more details when we know more! Reflecting on the past year and seeing all the positives, blessings and joys we experienced only makes me that much more excited for the last year of my 20s!


A Nice Little Reminder

Last night I received a text from one of my besties – and it literally made me tear up. It was the SWEETEST thing ever and just the right thing I needed to hear. The gist of it was that she was super impressed at my ability to have 3 babies (soon!) in 3 different states and not even blink an eye…..if she only knew! ha. But seriously…who sends these random messages to their girlfriends at just the right time?!? It was so needed and made me feel like all my doubts need to be pushed aside. So thanks lady (you know who you are!)

This got me thinking the about the last few months and if I have been working my best to improve myself. If you have kept up with my blog, you know that I’ve made a commitment to myself this year to stop comparing myself to others (BIG TASK…I know…ha) and to be my own person. Begin to discover who I truly am and what makes me feel special. I continue to get sucked back in to comparing myself to others (see this post, this one,  and this one if you need to see this recurring struggle happening in my life) – It’s a vicious cycle that I keep finding myself in – struggling to make it out.

But this text, just a simple 2 second thing that my girl sent me – just because she was thinking of me – got me back on track. As many of you know, I am currently pregnant with our 3rd kiddo…and I’m freaking out a bit. I find myself struggling daily to keep my cool with Paisley and Carson, only to realize I blew it…again…and the day starts over – me trying to stay calm and patient. Most days I feel pretty successful, but there are times where I think back to how my day went and feel ashamed. Ashamed at how I yelled again…ashamed at how I put myself first, rather than taking the 2 minutes to address their needs…ashamed at the satisfaction I feel when it is finally naptime!

I think to myself “how am I going to do this with 3 kids?” This is a daily struggle and concern. My feelings of inadequacy run deep – not just around raising children, but in most facets of my life. As much as I don’t like to admit (and as weird as it feels to say/write them down), this blog is actually helping me realize these negative thoughts and feelings I have about myself and my abilities. Just scrolling through these posts, you can see that I think about these things a lot. I tend to share them a lot too (a lot more than I had intended), but for whatever reason it makes me feel better. So they will continue.

Me 2

When I realize these self-doubts, I have to remember that they come from a dark place – the adversary is a tricky guy and he gets very good and getting in to our hearts and minds. This text I got last night is the reminder I needed – I Am Enough! I can do this. Someone out there thinks I am a wonderful mother and example. She has faith and trust in me that I can do this, that I am not alone. That I am strong. I’ve proven it time and time again – multiple moves, multiple children, multiple life changes – and I’ve done all of them! I grew stronger with each new step. I am becoming my own person and we as a family are continuing to grow closer and rely on each other. I am a mom to 2 (almost 3!) amazing and wonderful children. They are the reason I was placed on this Earth. To guide them, teach them, show them the way.

A little pep talk for myself this lovely Wednesday afternoon. Thanks for hanging with me throughout my self-discovery process. I promise not all posts will be this heavy, but just felt that this needed to be shared. It gets it off my chest – so if it only helps me, that is good enough for me!

The next time you feel the need to call or text a friend, please do! Act on that prompting. It may seem small to you, but it may be just what that friend needs to hear.

Happy Wednesday All!


My Tasmanian Devil…and what to do about her!

Whoever dubbed the term “terrible twos” had not yet had a “threenager”. Brian and I joke about this all the time, but in reality, we both feel that the transition to a 3 and now almost 4 year old has been WAY more difficult than a 2 year old.

I have found myself struggling this past year to maintain my parental calmness around Paisley at times. My social work brain continually tells my mommy brain that she has been through so many big transitions (new baby brother, cross country move – separating herself from all her family and friends, staying home full-time with me) this past year, “no wonder she is acting this way”. For some reason, even though I know this, it doesn’t give me the peace of mind to reassess how I feel in those moments of irritation and anger, and how I handle myself as a result.

When I speak to Brian about it, his go-to response is “what would your social worker brain tell you to do”. As much as I don’t like to admit it, but he is right. I needed to step out of my mommy brain and look deeper into the root of the behaviors. I decided to crack open the old therapy books and give it a go.

*Disclaimer: I am trained as a social worker that focused on individual therapy with children who experienced trauma, mainly who lived in the inner-city, and who’s families experienced “complex trauma” (multiple, generational traumatic events). My experience and background speak to that. I also focus on strengths-based approaches, shying away from punitive or shaming techniques because they don’t fix the problem and rarely help. My techniques will be relationship building and strengthening techniques, and most of the work is to be done by us…the parents. ALSO, techniques I share may or may not work for your child. Each one is different, along with parenting style and personality. It truly is an experiment that is best done consistently and for a 2-3 week period to determine if it works for your family.*

A little about 3 and 4 year old development to help set the stage for the strategies that I suggest:

  • 4 year-olds want to try new experiences. They want to be self-reliant and seek to expand the areas of their lives where they can be independent decision-makers
    • Seeking to test limits and boundaries, love to be “helpers” and seen as capable
  • Their brains are developing quickly to desire to learn words and letters, problem solving, shapes and colors. They understand days of the week sequence, but cannot tell time.
    • Cue all the “why” and “what’s this” questions!
  • Emotionally, 4 year-olds continue to learn what causes certain feelings and realize that others may react to the same situation differently. 
  • They have learned to better manage intense emotions with coping strategies like talking it out or drawing a picture.
    • ONLY if they have been previous taught to do so.

After going back through these main points, it helped me realize what is going on in her brain. Before I can do anything about strategies to try, I have to stop and think what triggers I have – what behaviors she does that make me go coocoo cachoo!

My biggest struggle with Paisley is the seemingly blatant not listening and her attitude (screaming “I don’t care”, running away, and the occasional temper tantrum to be a bit more specific). I find myself trying to figure out how much discipline needs to be done, if I have too many rules and restrictions, am I being fair and providing reasonable consequences for her age and developmental stage, was I too mean/harsh, not enough? The struggle is real!

If I started talking about strategies without explaining a bit on the brain, I feel I would be doing you a disservice. Very brief and basic…Our brains are split in to 3 separate parts: Brain Stem, Limbic System, Prefrontal Cortexparts-of-the-brain

This picture was taken from Dr. Bruce Perry’s presentation about brain development. He is my favorite psychologist to refer to when discussing brain development and the impact trauma has on the brain. But that is a total side note…if you want to read a more in depth explanation of brain development go here.

When we react to situations, we are coming from our limbic system (emotional state) rather than responding from our prefrontal lobes (thinking/logical state). As parents, it results in us yelling, threatening, or throwing tantrums ourselves rather than helping our children address their needs in those moments in a logical manner and teaching them the correct way to respond or act.

So back to my examples of Paisley’s behaviors that drive me nutty! She has developed a habit of being SUPER whiny and throwing a fit when she doesn’t get what she wants (which lead to not listening or exhibiting a negative attitude). Depending on the day, will determine whether I react or respond. My reactions usually coincide with my internal feelings of completing my “to-dos” or not. If I feel like I haven’t had enough time to get what I want done, I usually am already frustrated and typically react…and it’s not pretty. After raising my voice, threatening her, etc. her body language says it all. Her shoulders are slumped, she won’t look at me, and sometimes will even yell back “I don’t want you to look at me!” There is nothing worse than feeling like you have screwed everything up for you kid.

Before we can even try to respond to our children’s behaviors we have to get ourselves in check first. It’s all about self-care, taking care of ourselves first. Think airplane oxygen mask example. The flight attendants always tell you to put the mask on yourself, then on any kiddos. What good is your kiddo if they have their mask on, but you don’t? We have to have our brains calm enough to respond appropriately and teach our children the skills they need. (I did a few posts about what self-care is and how to incorporate more ideas into your daily routine. Check them out here, here and here.)

So what do we do to help ourselves NOT react this way? How do we shift the discipline paradigm in our own brains from “punishment” to “teaching”? What strategies or ideas have been helpful in the past and need to be re-introduced?

Discipline has such a negative connotation. Discipline is about teaching a child the skills to calm themselves down, not punishment. Discipline is not something you do to children, but something you develop within them.


We, as parents, have to find what our children need and that will give us our answer on how we respond to those needs. Needs are tied to the parts of the brain. Always ask yourself:

  • Is my child safe/being safe?
    • Basic needs of safety and security (brain stem portion of the brain) – food, shelter, water, love
    • The way to respond is with attachment, nurture, love and care
  • Is my child seeking connection?
    • Respond with attention, self-regulating activities (dancing, singing, rocking, swaying, hugging, etc)
  • Is my child bored, seeking challenge?
    • Respond with stimulating activities, increase skill level to create a challenge

*I will get more in to this in a different post, as this is already getting lengthy!*


We cannot teach what we do not know. Modeling appropriate and wanted behavior is the easiest and most effective way to teach.

First and foremost, we must remain calm and in control of our own internal state (it helps keep us in our prefrontal cortex/logical part of the brain). Literally stop your thoughts, take a deep breathe (may even require us to leave the room – as long as the child is safe – and collect ourselves prior to speaking) and tell yourself “I can do this”. Next, focus on assertive language with your child. Tell them what you want them to do not what you want them to stop. Paint a picture of what you want your child to do.

For example, Paisley loves playing with cars (so much so, she literally played with cars and “parking spots” for 2 days with grandpa this week…all day). Prior to dinner or bedtime I may say, “It’s time to clean up the cars. Put the cars into the bucket.” (specific and clear, assertive instructions)

If she complies, say “You did it! You are cleaning up the cars and putting them in the bucket.” (positive affirmation and awareness that she is doing what is asked)

If she refuses, say “I’m going to help you start putting the cars in the bucket.” (modeling appropriate behavior, providing a relationship building moment by assisting)

If she complies this time, say “That’s it. You’re doing it. It’s hard to stop when you are having fun.” (tuning in to her desire to have fun and not wanting to stop, makes her feel heard)

If she refuses and turns or jerks away, notice her body movements and say, “Your arms went like this (demonstrate) and your head went like this (demonstrate).” (tuning in to her body language and actions, makes her feel heard, but also serves as a distraction or stopping her brain for a bit)

When she looks to see what you are doing, take a breath and say, “There you are!” Then offer two positive choices such as, “You can put all the blue and red cars in the bucket or you can put the silver and purple ones in. Which do you choose?” (noting that you see her looking at you, offering two choices – gives her a sense of control/putting her in her prefrontal state or logical brain – end result is cleaning up the cars)

When she chooses to clean up, give positive and specific praise. I realize that this example seems pretty “fluffy”, but cleaning up is one of our biggest struggles – cue the raging tornado and drama-mama or this sweet girl who does it the first time. Her not cleaning up when I ask, makes me nutty and sometimes turns me into the wicked witch. But going back through these very simplified steps and realizing that she is ONLY 4 YEARS OLD (barely 4, she’s been on this earth longer as a 3 year old than a 4 year old), helps me remember that she just doesn’t have all the skills and self-control I think she should have, or that she showed yesterday!


I have to continually tell myself that children are just that, children. They learn through play. They learn by example. They dive deep into their play and trying to pull them out of it before they are ready can result in the tasmanian devil showing up for a bit. They are people just like we are. They have feelings just like we do. What they don’t have yet is the social-awareness and self-control to keep them in check like we do.


That is where we come in as parents and caregivers. It is our job to teach these skills, to model appropriate ways to behave, to help them through a tantrum rather than trying to make it stop.

It is a big task to be a parent. Being a parent means we signed up for the most self-less job in the world. We give up a lot to put full focus on the needs of our children. With this, we need to remember that we are people too, who have needs.

We need to take time out EVERY SINGLE DAY for ourselves, even if it is something small. It helps re-balance our brains to put us in our prefrontal state – logical/thinking brain – so we can best provide for our children.

I hope this is somewhat helpful and not too all over the place! My brain wants to go in so many different directions with these topics, but I am trying my best to keep everything coherent.

I posted on Facebook a few days ago about topics you all were struggling with as parents, hoping to gather some direction on content you’d like to see. So far topics are potty training, discipline, babies who seem inconsolable, strong-headed children (and parents). I will do my best to address these in ways that I know how. And please know that not all my strategies or suggestions will work with your kiddo. It truly is a game of trial and error to figure out if the example above works with your child or sets them off even more.

For all you readers out there, here are a few books that I love for parenting:

I’d love to hear your concerns or what strategies you use that are effective! I am NOT THE EXPERT, just someone who has tried a lot of different strategies and found some that work for my kiddos and those I used to work with.

Happy Thursday!


The Importance of You

You cannot control all life events that come your way, but you can control how you react and respond to them. You can control how you take care of yourself to ensure that you respond the way you want, rather than react the way you regret.

Self-Care plain and simple is the daily activities we do to look after ourselves, the process of looking after one’s self.  And it is the hardest thing for some of us to do, myself included.

I, by nature, am a giver. My chameleon self likes to please others, in turn disregarding my own needs and desires. I put others first, often times resulting in personal frustration for not getting done what I want to get done. Frustration with others lack of initiative and grace. Frustration with others not caring about other people, as much as I would like or do. All of this results in me having TERRIBLE self-care routines and often times being a crabby, grumpy mommy and wife.

In the next few weeks I will post 4 different pieces of a self-care series, in the hopes of accomplishing two different things. Changing my daily routines and habits to help me put myself first, which then in turn will help my family. Giving you a few ideas on how to improve or add to your self-care routines.

The first thing I have to get rid of is the mom guilt. It is not a selfish thing to want some peace and quiet, some “me time”, some pampering “just because”. It is absolutely necessary. Our brains are wired to put our needs first, it’s primal. Once our basic needs are met, then we are able to provide assistance to others. Anyone remembering Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? Physiological (air, water, food, shelter, clothing). Safety (personal safety, financial security, health and well-being). These are the first 2 sections of Maslow’s pyramid. If our own basic needs are not met, we CANNOT care for another efficiently.

When I did parent training with inner-city families, I often used the airplane metaphor to relate the importance of self-care. Most have been on a plane. Those who have flown with kiddos knows that the flight attendant walks the aisles before take-off, and when he or she gets to your row, they ALWAYS tell you “place the mask on you first, then your child”. ALWAYS! That’s because, if you try and put the mask on your kiddo first, you may run out of oxygen and what good are you, the parent, if you’re passed out? Always place it on yourself first, then your child. Always take care of yourself first, then take care of your child.

This is by far the most important piece of advice I can give, either professionally or personally. Every component of therapy begins with a self assessment. Often times, parents note that they are too stressed, too busy, too XYZ to complete the tasks that the therapist is asking. When it comes down to it, they are busy and that busy-ness leads to a lack of self-care time, which leads to reacting rather than responding to their children’s behaviors.

When parents (myself included) take the time to read a book, exercise, have friend time, do some retail therapy, they find themselves in a better place. Their mood is increased, and they are able to RESPOND to their child’s behaviors. They are able to validate and empathize with their child. They are able to teach their child the correct behavior.

This series will include tips on how to pamper yourself, distract yourself, focus and practice mindfulness, and get rid of the mom/dad guilt. It is important to do so. It is important to get our needs met, too. Our children need us to be 100% present and focused. They need to see our positive examples. Stay tuned for some fun and practical ways to get self-care in your daily life.

I would love to incorporate some of your favorite and most effective ways of doing self-care! Comment below with what you do for yourself.

Stay tuned!!


Sundays Are Made for Bubbles

Every Saturday night, Brian and I struggle with the decision to sleep in Sunday morning or wake up before the and get ready for church. And for the past two weeks we have made the effort to get up a little earlier.

Sunday mornings typically are stressful in our house, trying to get the kids dressed and fed prior to church. And usually its a DISASTER! Getting two kids ready plus ourselves is a hassle, but these past few weeks we have been getting up before the kiddos. This helps us stay sane and keep the spirit in the home prior to going to church, which makes for a better all-around Sabbath Day experience! (You should try it)

Today, we ended our Sabbath Day with a little indoor bubble play before the transition to lunch and nap time. So much fun and made things that much more enjoyable.

Seriously, sometimes it is the little things that make life better. And if you don’t have bubbles, you should get some. Kids go nuts for them (and they make teaching deep breathing so easy and fun! win-win in my book!)

What’s Your Animal?

As I briefly mentioned in my last post, I tend to live my life with animal personality profiles always in the back of my mind. Every interaction can be reduced to reading another’s personality and responding the appropriate way. Every behavior is goal-oriented, we just have to figure out what that goal is!

Adlerian psychology and work done by Terry Kottman breaks these down even further, and in a way that has helped me understand myself, but also understand those around me. The most important piece being, how to interact with those similar to my personality style and those completely on the opposite spectrum. Myself being a chameleon (which will make more sense at the end of this post), I am always wanting to ensure I take into account another’s feelings and thoughts prior to injecting my own.

Before I dive deeper into how to determine your personality profile, I want to give a bit more of my background as a social worker and therapist. I received my undergraduate degree in Psychology and Criminal Justice/Criminology, with all intentions being to work in the FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit (Criminal Minds looks amazing and who wouldn’t want to work with Derek Morgan, am I right?!? Ha). The reasoning behind behaviors, how past experiences and trauma effects our brain development and future choices in life, has always interested me (cue Academia Crush, Bruce Perry. Not so much the looks, but definitely the brains). My dreams of working for the FBI were completely, and almost immediately halted when I realized I would have to fire a gun…at someone, maybe…and that will probably never happen! So, the next best thing was getting involved in counseling or social work. I chose social work, and pursued my Master’s Degree from the University of Kansas with an emphasis in children and families. Within this program, students are required to take 2 practicum placements (an internship we pay for. HA!) and the first of mine was with the Head Start Trauma Smart program through Crittenton Children’s Center. Let’s just say I had NO IDEA what I was doing and I learned a whole lot along the way (if you ever get your finger chomped on by a 4 year old, I can help you out!). I had the best mentor and field instructor, both of which later became my bosses when, after completing my degree, moving to Columbus and back to Kansas City, and joining Trauma Smart full-time. The absolute best decision of my life.

Through this program I found a love for Play Therapy, attachment work, and Theraplay. Seriously, who wouldn’t want to get paid to play with kids? (I know some of you would rather eat dirt :)). This program taught me to be selfless and ever grateful for my many blessings. I learned to roll with the punches and take every day one step at a time. No day was the same, and even the best laid plans always changed. But I digress and you aren’t wanting to read about this, on this post!

During my time at Trauma Smart, I was assigned to work in the therapy department at Operation Breakthrough, a non-profit child care center and wrap around service center in the inner city of Kansas City, Missouri. If I thought I had seen it all, OB opened my eyes to an entirely different world. The amount of trials and trauma these children and families saw was astronomical compared to those I had worked with in my previous years. And it is an entirely different blog post to discuss the cycle of trauma and poverty that they experience and cannot get out of. If you have a chance to volunteer or donate, please take a minute to consider Operation Breakthrough (non-guilty plug!). But again, I digress from the main point, I promise it’s coming! Through OB, I had the greatest pleasure working under Brijin Gardner. A well-known certified play therapist and all around amazing person. She introduced me to the lovely Adlerian Personality Proiorities at a training and I will never be able to forget the pathways it opened for me reading others and understanding their behaviors.

The next few paragraphs will be in the form of a do-it-yourself training. It is a fun activity to do, but just know that it reveals portions of you that you have not thought about before. Here we go!

  1. Think about which animal characteristics speaks most to you (if we were in a large group, you would join the animal group with others in the training)
    • Turtle
    • Chameleon
    • Eagle
    • Lion
  2. Whatever animal you chose, begin to write down all the positive qualities of that animal. Why did you choose the animal you did?
  3. Now, write down all the negative aspects of the animals you did not chose. Ex: If you identify with a chameleon, write down all the negative aspects of the turtle, lion, and eagle. (In a large group training, this portion can get a bit defensive, tread lightly if doing this along-side a partner!) And just remember that we all have pieces of these animals, so be kind!

Easy peasy, right?

Every person has all of these priorities that make up their personality, we are not 100% one priority, but are a blend. My priorities change depending on what situation I am in. I am a Chameleon-Eagle, with rare traces of Lion and Turtle. My hubs is a Lion through and through. The positive aspects you identified are the assets, where as the negatives of the other animals are the reactions of others.

There are 4 different priorities (the animals) and each have positives and negatives. These 4 priorities are: Comfort, Pleasing, Control, and Superiority. Take a second and see if you can match the priority to the animal!

Comfort (Turtle)
-Striving to Achieve: Comfort, Pleasure, Ease, Need to be pampered
-Wishes to Avoid: Stress, Expectations, Work, Responsibility
-Reaction of Others (How others perceive them): Irritation, Boredom, Impatient with lack of productivity, Lazy
-Assets: Easy going, Few demands, Minds own business, Peaceful, Gets along with other, Predictable, Mellow, Empathic, Understanding
-Price Paid: Underachievement, Doesn’t get things done, Undervalued

Pleasing (Chameleon)
-Striving to Achieve: Please others; Meet the needs of others, Puts others first
-Wishes to Avoid: Rejection; other people’s anger or unhappiness, Conflict
-Reaction of Others: Pleased at first, but later annoyed by demands for approval
-Assets: Friendly, thoughtful, volunteers, follows rules, nice, reliable, helpful, responsible -Price paid: Not getting own needs met, worry about others’ expectations

Control (Eagle): 2 Subtypes (a) control of self and (b) control of everything
-Striving to Achieve: Control self, others, situations
-Wishes to Avoid: Humiliation, surprises, being “out of control”
-Reaction of Others: Feel challenged, tense, angry, frustrated
-Assets: Strong leader, organized, productive, assertive, persistent, responsible
-Price Paid: Lacks spontaneity & intimacy, may have diminished creativity and fun

Superiority (Lion) 2 subtypes–(a) achievers and (b) out-doers
-Striving to Achieve: Being more competent, more right, more useful, more good, more smart, better than others, always wanting more
-Wishes to Avoid: Meaningless, feelings of inferiority
-Reaction of Others: Feel inadequate, inferior, competitive
-Assets: High levels of achievement and social interest, knowledgeable, idealistic, tries hard, persistent, perfectionistic
-Price paid: Feeling over-worked, over-involved, over-responsible, overwhelmed

Raise your hand if your feelings are hurt, or you feel somewhat shameful about how this activity depicts your animal! (ME!!)

After doing this activity the first time, I discovered that I have 2 most-dominant priorities. When I was at work, my eagle would be more dominant. I had 3 calendars and to do lists, each color-coded with the type of session completed and if the note was done. I like to work by myself, getting it done my way and at my pace. When I am at home and around my lion husband, my chameleon is more dominant. Being married to a lion means I have to stroke the ego then make the suggestion seem like it was his idea (ha, it works every time).

Like I said, this has been the best tool to learn how to interact with others. This works in and out of therapy. In therapy, I would use this tool to help identify what animal traits a child had, then would learn the best way to reach interact with them. Out of therapy, these tools will help with daily interactions at work or in daily life.

Turtles need to do things at their own pace. Be patient, let them work slowly and become comfortable before trying something new. Chameleons will seek approval. Give them lots of acknowledgment and praise. Let them know that their efforts are appreciated and that it is difficult to not please everyone. Eagles need limited choices. Let them have some control. Recognize that they feel anxious when they feel out of control. Lions need their ego stroked or the idea needs to seem to come from them. Acknowledge their expertise and their skills. (For a full explanation check the handout here)

If you’ve made it through this whole thing, thanks! It’s a long one, so I’m impressed. 🙂

This is one of the most valuable tools I learned while working with children. Through our interactions we create and sustain relationships, and relationships are the most crucial aspect of our lives. Relationships foster empathy and connection. Relationships establish safety and exploration. Relationships are the foundation for self-regulation, self-control and learning.

I would love to hear what personality priorities you have? Which is your dominant? Does it change depending on the other priorities you interact with, or situation you are in? Again, thanks for reading. Stay tuned for more!

Happy Monday All!


*Disclaimer: I am a clinically licensed social worker in the state of Missouri. This blog is not meant to act as therapeutic advice or counsel. It is merely a means for me to share my experiences and thoughts.*