CONFESSIONS OF A TYPE A PERSONALITY

Type A individuals [can be] ambitious, rigidly  organized  can be sensitive, truthful, impatient, always try to help others, take on more than they can handle, want other people to get to the point, proactive and obsessed with time management. People with Type A personalities are often high-achieving “workaholics” who multi-task, push themselves with deadlines, and hate both delays and ambivalence. ~ Wikipedia.

A lot of that is me.  Yes, I am an oldest sibling.  Yes, I had parents who, for all the right reasons, pushed me to succeed.

No, this is not a whine about a difficult childhood.  I am grateful that my parents pushed me.  I adore my sisters and can’t imagine life without them.  I am happy with all that I have accomplished. 

What this is about is that, like everyone else, I make missteps and outright mistakes. ShhhhhType A personalities don’t like to talk about those.  I hear my Type A voice in my head: “Why dost thou not have thy sh*^ together?” (I add the Shakespearean overtones.)

Many people have been kind and generous in their comments about the lessons, strategies, and tools that I have shared.  

But it is easy to talk about the successes.  

To prove that I am “actually human,” as one of my friends put it, below are are some examples of ideas that did not go so well…

The Screen Time Checklist

This was an attempt to make every task our son was supposed to do each day of each week directly connected to how much screen time he would receive on the weekend.  

I know, ridiculous, right?

Yes, I can get this deeply into the weeds.

The problems with this were several:

  1. It was too abstract for our son – boxes equaled time? It made no sense to him. When we got to the weekend, he did not understand how his actions or inaction connected to screen-time and so there was no real understanding of reward versus consequences
  2. It required that both my husband and I consistently checked-off the boxes. My husband is not a Type A personality. Enough said
  3. It did not allow for flexibility to meet ours and our son’s needs

The Over-Structured Summer

One summer I took advantage of an opportunity to send my son to a series of “camps” at our local university. We sat down and reviewed the available classes and he picked a class to learn how to make Rube Goldberg machines, about earth science, about building rockets, and about chemistry.

I thought this was a good idea – my son could get anxious when his time was too unstructured. He sometimes didn’t know what to do with himself, and it was one of the few times I would see him hand-flapping in agitation. 

I even only signed him up for the half-day camps so he wasn’t being too stimulated with other kids all day long.

Still, it was five consecutive weeks of camp – and it was too much. After three weeks he was saying he did not want to go anymore. After four weeks, I could see the desperation in his eyes. I canceled the fifth week.

To find balance, we continued to send him to camps in the summer when he asked for some but not every week. 

No Computer in his Room

While his computer was not hooked up to the internet, and only had two games on it, it was just too much of a distraction in his room. Temple Grandin, Ph.D. has said that video games are like “crack” to visual thinkers.

She stayed away from them because she had a hard time stopping herself from playing. Dr. Grandin was an adult – how could I expect my child to resist?  

We removed the computer from his room.