Monday, May 18, 2015

Improving relationships with MBTI

On the internet, it's common to find all kinds of quick tests that assess your personality type. What colour are you? What occupation should you have? What Harry Potter character are you? And so on. Most of these are for fun and a little hokey because we all know that there is more to someone's personality than can be prescribed by just answering a few simple questions.

However, I've always felt that there is some merit to understanding your family members' personalities for pragmatic purposes. Knowing what makes them tick, what they need, the circumstances under which they function best, etc, can be helpful in growing an appreciation of each other and reducing conflicts.

By far, the most comprehensive personality test out there is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Some people find this doesn't work for them as their personality might not fall anywhere within the 16 types but for our family, it's pretty accurate.

The MBTI test is not free but you can try a very similar one here. Kenneth, Lesley-Anne and I tried it and we got the same results as when we did the MBTI previously. When kids are too young, their personality might still be forming so it's better to take the test when they're older. Andre only took the test about a year ago and his results surprised me a little. I always thought he was an ENFP but it turns out he's an ESFJ. This means he's caring, social and popular (think cheerleader!) but needs structure and certainty (it explains why every time I ask him to try something new, he will get anxious and bombard me with all sorts of "what if" questions).

Knowing personality types can be very helpful for parenting and learning how best to respond to our kids. Eg Kenneth, the ESTJ, focuses on discipline and structure while I, the INTP, focuses on knowledge. So together, we provide a good deal of physical and intellectual support. Unfortunately, since Kenneth and I are both T on the Thinking-Feeling scale, we tend to overlook emotional support and the double whammy is that both our kids are Fs (Lesley-Anne is an INFP), meaning this is precisely what they need! When our kids encounter a setback, Kenneth is likely to lecture and I tend to lead them through where they went wrong. But what they actually crave is emotional support and comfort. Understanding this, we now consciously try to offer this when they're feeling discouraged (even though it's quite counter-intuitive to us).

The knowledge can also allow for more effective assignment of tasks. Hypothetically if we're going on a holiday and we want to divvy up the tasks as such:

1) Logistics: transport and hotel arrangements, planning meals, getting tickets etc
2) Knowledge: do research on the historical and cultural background of the places we visit, significance of attractions, etc
3) Social: mingling with the locals, talking and spending time with them to understand how they live
4) Journaling: creating a visual and written record of photos, pictures and blog of the trip

Based on our personality types, the ideal assignment would be:

Logistics: Kenneth (Administrator extraordinaire)
Knowledge: Me ("There's always an opportunity for learning!")
Social: Andre (Mr Personality)
Journaling: Lesley-Anne (Inspired by beauty everywhere)

The nightmare version of this would be:

Logistics: Me ("Is the train leaving in 15 or 50 minutes?")
Knowledge: Andre ("Leaning Tower of wonder if there's anything to eat...")
Social: Lesley-Anne ("Just say hello...*10 minutes later*... just say hello...")
Journaling: Kenneth ("I think I'll just stick a smiley face after every picture.")

As mentioned, not everyone finds that MBTI works for them but it does for us. If you can find a type that describes you very well, the MBTI can be useful in many ways, such as pointing the way to career types and understanding the way you learn. Do know though, then over time, one's personality can also change slightly so you shouldn't let it define you.

Even if you don't take it too seriously, it's fun checking out the many MBTI charts out there to find out which Star Wars character you are, which Disney character you are and so on. Here's a funny one on prayer - spot on for me!  

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Keep calm and mother on

I've sure the person who decided that Mothers' Day should be right smack in the middle of exams is a non-mother with mummy issues. Because nobody can be that cruel. As a friend told me, this is ironically the period when her sons love her the least, what with all the screaming and panicking going on (the mother, not the sons. The sons apparently couldn't understand why an exam period wasn't just another day, ie chillax day).

Anyway, Andre is right smack in the middle of his SA1 and Lesley-Anne, even though her exams are only after the June hols (which is even more sadistic!) is juggling several deadlines, including her first H3 Literature draft.

So Mothers' Day was a quiet affair in our household (not that I'm complaining - I like quiet). For lunch, our fantastic helper whipped up an oxtail stew dish worthy of a Hainanese chef. Seriously, we eat like kings in our home, thanks to her.

My kids somehow found the time to make something for me. All done in a hurry, I'm sure, but still very much appreciated. It's exam time after all and they know I'd much rather see the good grades, heh.

Dinner was a quick break at Aston's, one of our regular eating places. The food is good and easy on the wallet (something that's increasingly a consideration as Andre continues to eat like a vacuum cleaner!) Andre loves the rib-eye here and for just $19.90, you can get the Prime Ribeye X'tra Cut which is 250g of juicy prime steak in mushroom sauce with two sides. Can't be beat.

And since we're on the topic of mothers, a small piece of news: there's a book out by Armour Publishing. Quite funnily, it's called Keep Calm and Mother On which is pretty applicable to this period! It's a compilation of 21 stories by mothers of all ages and from all walks of life.

I was invited to contribute an article and mine is on raising a book-writing daughter, something you're probably familiar with if you've been reading my blog! Whether you're a new mum or a seasoned one, you might find solace in the stories featured here. I'm told you get a 15% discount if you buy from the link above and key in the code "motheringon21".

I hope all you mums had a relaxing Mothers' Day and remember, our kids may not always say it (especially during this period!) but I'd like to believe  we're all supermums in their minds. ♥ ♥ ♥


Monday, May 4, 2015

Dance little lady dance

It wasn't that long ago when I wrote about Lesley-Anne enjoying JC life, partly due to her love for dance and her Dance CCA. In the blink of an eye, it's time for her to step down as a senior (the JC2s stop CCA from mid of the year so they can focus on the fast approaching A levels).

Joining the dance group was the most fulfillment Lesley-Anne has ever gotten out of any CCA. She has not only improved tremendously on her dance techniques, she has also had the opportunity to perform many different dance styles.

Being part of dance is no walk in the park. People often have the mistaken idea that a dance CCA only dances or learns choreography. The truth is a huge chunk of each three-hour session is spent on technical exercises and each session starts with PT (push-ups, crunches, etc). Dance is a very physically demanding performing art, almost like a sport.

In fact, Lesley-Anne is now the most physically fit I've ever seen her. If you've followed my blog, you'll know that sports has never been Lesley-Anne's forte. For the NAPFA test, she's always struggled with the 2.4km run but from her dance training, running stopped becoming a hurdle. This year, for the first time since primary school, she scored a gold in NAPFA. She was so motivated she decided to try and maintain her fitness by going jogging twice a week. Here she is with Andre. Brother and sister running together! Who would've thought?

It has been such a huge blessing for Lesley-Anne to be part of her dance CCA, in no small part because of the instructor, Dan Kwoh. Despite her not having joined a dance CCA previously, Mr Dan took a chance on her and gave her the opportunity to blossom. He's a terrific mentor to his students and great at identifying potential. Eg. if he feels that a student is particularly skilled at expression, he will give her an opportunity to showcase this. He noticed Lesley-Anne's technique (as a result of her ballet training) and gave her a pas de deux (dance duet) part in the school's Singapore Youth Festival (SYF) item. Ok, it's also partly because Lesley-Anne is so petite - it means she's easier to lift!   

Mr Dan is not just a great teacher, he's a fantastic choreographer. That explains why he's so popular as a dance instructor for schools. He's currently teaching 6 schools and choreographed all the dances for this year's SYF. He held a mini rehearsal/concert for family members of all 6 schools to see the performances and I was completely impressed by the sheer scale and creativity of all the dances.

This is a pic of one of the secondary school items.

And these two pics below are of Lesley-Anne's school dance. Mr Dan tends to pick more abstract concepts for JC and this one depicts the fear and loneliness associated with dementia. I know, right? So cheem! But I thought they totally pulled it off - it was beautiful and haunting.

You can watch the full performance here. Sorry for bad recording - this was taken from our seats and we couldn't find the official SYF video online.

All 6 of Mr Dan's schools achieved Distinction for this year's SYF. I can't say I'm surprised but it speaks volumes of his skills and dedication as a dance educator.

I think Lesley-Anne is very fortunate to have discovered something she's passionate about and been given the opportunity to pursue the passion in a nurturing environment. I've always thought dance to be an exquisite art form and is pure poetry in motion. As pioneer American modern dancer and choreographer Martha Graham put it, "Dance is the hidden language of the soul." Such a blessing that Lesley-Anne is able to channel this language as a mode of expression.

"The dance is a poem of which each movement is a word." - Mata Hari
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