For those of you who have attended my Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage seminar, you are well acquainted with the assessment tool we use called the Flag Page. It is an online inventory that couples complete in a matter of minutes, which yields a colorful printout explaining what your greatest needs, motivations and desires in life. The Flag Page gives you an easy to understand snapshot of your heart and who you are at your very best.
Previously I have referred to how the Flag Page is beneficial to blended or stepfamilies and military families where the spouse is coming back from a deployment. These are “forced change” type situations that can be very problematic if you can’t gain understanding of who the person is. But it is also a very valuable tool to use in any marriage or parenting relationship.
After years of working with couples employing the Flag Page and getting marvelous results and success, we enlisted the help of Larry Bilotta, creator of the Flag Page, to come up with a Kids Flag Page. The game-base version can be used with children ages 3-12—or younger with parental assistance—to give them and their parents an understanding of what drives them and makes them tick.
We are, again, seeing amazing outcomes and hearing great testimonies of how the Flag Page is impacting families. Here is one compelling story from a dad whose perspective of his three kids was changed and how completing the assessment revolutionized how he and his wife parent them.
The Flag Page for Kids has totally changed our approach to parenting. I grew up in a home where all of the kids were treated exactly the same when it came to discipline, praise, reward, and verbal interaction. But that style of parenting doesn’t take into account the differences in each child’s temperament or what motivates them. Because that is how my wife and I were raised, it’s exactly how we were raising our three kids.
When we did the Kids Flag Page with our kids it showed us the stark differences between all of them. We realized right away that fair doesn’t mean the same, but that we needed to treat our kids differently based upon who they are. We now know that because all three are unique that they all need to be shown approval and affection according to what their needs and motivations are. I tended to approach all of my kids in the same way…the way I want to be approached and I found out that’s so wrong. They are not me and by doing so, I was causing undue frustration for all of us.
Knowing what makes each of them tick also changed the way we ask them to do things, how we question each of them and how we discipline them. With one son we have learned that based on who he is, we have to tread very carefully and go much lighter because of his great sensitivity. With the other, we can be much more direct and straight to the issue because that is the way he best processes the information and correction.
One of the greatest benefits of having done the Kids Flag Page with our kids is that we have learned to minimize conflict in our home and when it does occur, we are able to handle it so much better. We can be proactive because we know what to say and do in order to get the best out of all three of our kids and how to help them feel the most successful in life.
My wife and I are now able to teach and coach each of the kids by validating who they are. For example: Our oldest son is a guy who avoids conflict and he will escape it at all cost. This doesn’t always serve him or his parents or siblings well. Now we can talk with him and say, “Hey, we know that you don’t like confrontation or fighting, but here is what you can do to head this off before it starts, this is how you deal with it when it happens. There are times in life that conflict just happens and while we know you want to avoid it, you need to learn good ways to deal with it.” This enables us to teach our kids that their natural tendencies in life can’t be uses as excuses. They learn how to make their motivations work for them and not against them.
We have also found that it’s a great tool in getting our kids to understand that not everyone is like them. They will have to learn how to interact and get along with lots of different people their whole lives and it doesn’t mean that other people are “wrong” or “odd”, rather, they are just different. It goes a long way in helping them grow in compassion and empathy as well as acceptance of others.
Because my wife and I did our Flag Pages too, with the kids doing theirs it has completed the circle of understanding for us. We know who we are, who all the other people in the family are, and why all of us do what we do. It helps us work with, develop and foster the traits each of us has and brings balance to our individual lives as well as our family.
My wife and I highly recommend the Kids Flag Page for all families and know that without doing it with our three children, we would be much more hit and miss in our parenting. We would be treating them according to who we are and how we were parented instead of who God designed them to be.