There is a pervasive misconception that babies are somehow born on a blank slate. Even though we know better, it doesn’t stop us from the feeling of befuddlement when our second child doesn’t respond to the parenting methods we have refined with our first child. While we acknowledge that we all have different personalities that cause us to respond differently to a situation, we rarely consider the possibility that our child’s personality may have thrown an unknown variable into the mix.
The fact remains – our children’s personalities do affect how they behave and respond to our parenting methods. So how can we determine our children’s personality type and how can we adjust our methods of teaching and parenting to make the most of it?
The Myers-Briggs Personality Profile
One of the more popular personality assessments is the Myers-Briggs personality profile. It is based on Jung Typology and covers 16 different personality types that reveal your innate preferences. Each personality type is represented by four letters chosen from four pairs of letters.
- [E]xtraversion – [I]ntroversion
- [S]ensing – i[N]tuition
- [T]hinking – [F]eeling
- [J]udging – [P]erceiving
It is worth noting that with children below the age of 12, the T/F and S/N letters are usually not very well defined and are sometimes omitted. The Myers-Briggs Personality Test is also usually indicated for children 7 years and above. That said, you may be able to recognise certain traits in your younger child.
The 16 Myers-Briggs Personality Types
These are the different Briggs-Myers Personality Profiles:
- ISTJ – Responsible, sincere, analytical, reserved, realistic, systematic. Hardworking and trustworthy with sound practical judgment.
- ISTP – Action-oriented, logical, analytical, spontaneous, reserved, independent. Enjoy adventure, skilled at understanding how mechanical things work.
- ESTP – Outgoing, realistic, action-oriented, curious, versatile, spontaneous. Pragmatic problem solvers and skillful negotiators.
- ESTJ – Efficient, outgoing, analytical, systematic, dependable, realistic. Like to run the show and get things done in an orderly fashion.
- ISFJ – Warm, considerate, gentle, responsible, pragmatic, thorough. Devoted caretakers who enjoy being helpful to others.
- ISFP – Gentle, sensitive, nurturing, helpful, flexible, realistic. Seek to create a personal environment that is both beautiful and practical.
- ESFP – Playful, enthusiastic, friendly, spontaneous, tactful, flexible. Have strong common sense, enjoy helping people in tangible ways.
- ESFJ – Friendly, ougoing, reliable, conscientious, organised, practical. Seek to be helpful and please others, enjoy being active and productive.
- INFJ – Idealistic, organised, insightful, dependable, compassionate, gentle. Seek harmony and cooperation, enjoy intellectual stimulation.
- INFP – Sensitive, creative, idealistic, perceptive, caring, loyal. Value inner harmony and personal growth, focus on dreams and possibilities.
- ENFP – Enthusiastic, creative, spontaneous, optimistic, supportive, playful. Value inspiration, enjoy starting new projects, see potential in others.
- ENFJ – Caring, enthusiastic, idealistic, organised, diplomatic, responsible. Skilled communicators who value connection with people.
- INTJ – Innovative, independent, strategic, logical, reserved, insightful. Driven by their own original ideas to achieve improvements.
- INTP – Intellectual, logical, precise, reserved, flexible, imaginative. Original thinkers who enjoy speculation and creative problem solving.
- ENTP – Inventive, enthusiastic, strategic, enterprising, inquisitive, versatile. Enjoy new ideas and challenges, value inspiration.
- ENTJ – Strategic, logical, efficient, outgoing, ambitious, independent. Effective organisers of people and long-range planners.
To figure out which one your child is, have a look through the following guide to see which letters match your child’s typical behaviours.
E or I – Are you outwardly or inwardly focused?
I find that the best way to think of this is to determine where your energy comes from – externally or internally? When you go to a party, do you come home feeling energised or depleted? An extrovert will be on fire, while an introvert will be eager to get home to recover from the experience. That’s not to say that introverts don’t enjoy going to a party or talking to people, they just need their own space after.
These people are energized by interaction with others. They are people of action. Es are pulled into social life and find it difficult to settle down, read, or concentrate on homework. They may find college tasks, such as reading, research, and writing challenging because they are solitary endeavors. They learn best by talking and physically engaging in the environment. Extroverts learn better in small classroom settings where students can actively engage in conversations with peers and professors as opposed to large lecture style classrooms where listening is the primary activity. Extroverts enjoy oral feedback from professors, as well as conversations before/after class or during office hours. Additionally, extroverts benefit from study groups where they can learn through speaking with others.
Identifying the extrovert:
- Focus on the outer world of people and things
- Receive energy from interacting with people
- Energized by taking action; active
- Prefer communicating by talking (over writing)
- Work out ideas by talking them through
- Learn best through sharing/doing/discussing
- Have broad interests
These people are energized by the inner world of reflection, thought, and contemplation. They need space and time alone. Introverts like reading, lectures, and written work. Therefore, they generally do well in traditional classroom settings. Introverts may hesitate to speak up in class but may benefit from one-on-one conversations with a professor or written feedback. Online courses may work well for introverts as many often engage more in chat rooms or via email than contributing orally to a class discussion. Introverts may need time alone to reflect, process, and reenergize before joining a group or study group.
Identifying the introvert:
- Internal focus on ideas, memories, or emotion
- Receive energy from reflecting on thoughts
- Prefer communicating in writing (over talking)
- Learn best by having time alone to process
- Prefer working in quiet environments
- Able to focus on one project at length
- Known to be reflective, quiet, private, or deep
S or N – How do you prefer to take in information?
A simple way to make this distinction is to see how you remember a place. Do you think about how you felt when you were there – the ambiance, the mood; or do you remember the layout, the colours, the smells, or the sounds? What words would you use to describe the place? Intuitive individuals might use descriptors like “cosy”, “warm”, or “airy”. Sensing individuals would use more specific descriptors, like “it was a brightly lit room with tables on one side”.
These people rely heavily on their five senses to take in information. They may be good listeners or visually oriented learners who enjoy hands-on learning experiences. They like concrete facts, organization, and structure and learn well from organized lectures or presentations. These individuals are also good at memorization. Sensing people usually like outlines, clear guidelines, and specifics. A syllabus is an important learning tool for Sensing types. As Sensing types often have difficulty with theory, they may struggle in classes where theoretical concepts are commonplace such as psychology or philosophy.
Identifying the sensing individual:
- Focuses on the present; what is happening now
- Prefers real/concrete/tangible information
- Attentive to details, specifics, and facts
- Enjoys tasks with an orderly, sequential format
- Likes having five senses engaged while working
- Works at a steady pace and have stamina
- Known to be practical, steady, and orderly
These people see the world through intuition. They learn by hunches. Intuitive students may not read a test question all the way through, sometimes missing a key part. Intuitive types want to know the theory before deciding that facts are important and will always ask “why”. They are creative and innovative and may struggle following strict sets of instructions or on multiple choice tests. Ns also work with bursts of energy. Ns will write their term paper and then finish the required outline.
Identifying the intuitive individual:
- Focuses on future; possibilities and potential
- Sees the big picture, connections, or patterns
- Remembers specifics when part of a pattern
- Imaginative and creative
- Bored by routine and sequential tasks
- Likes solving problems and developing new skills
- Has bursts of energy rather than stamina
T or F – How do you prefer to make decisions?
What motivates your decisions? Facts or feelings? If you were stuck on the Titanic and you had to decide who gets a lifeboat and who doesn’t, how would you decide? Thinkers would be logical and even brutal in their decisions, while Feelers would struggle to make a decision because they would want to save everyone.
These people decide on the basis of logic, analysis, and reason. They may be great at figuring out logical problems and analyzing problems. Often, they may also voice their strong opinions in the classroom. They expect fairness in grading, equal treatment of all students and adherence to fair classroom policies.
Identifying the thinker:
- Examines logical consequences of decisions
- Objectively weighs the pros and cons
- Bases decisions on impersonal analysis and logic
- Energized by problem solving and critiquing
- Seeks standard principles to apply uniformly
- Looks for cause/effect relationships in data
- Considers feelings when presented as facts
These people decide on the basis of their feelings, personal likes and dislikes. Feeling types value harmony and are distressed by interpersonal friction. Harmony in the classroom, with classmates and with the professor will be of ultimate importance for Feeling types.
Identifying the feeler:
- Bases decisions on subjective values
- Enjoys appreciating and supporting others
- Actively looks for qualities to praise in others
- Values and create harmonious environments
- Honors each person as a unique individual
- Assesses impacts of decisions on others
- Works best in supportive, encouraging settings
J or P – How do you prefer to live your outer life?
Do you prefer timetables, order and structure or are you more of a “go with the flow” person? Judging types like to plan everything out, while perceiving types think an appointment time is just a suggestion for when to meet.
These types try to order and control their world. They are decisive, may be closed-minded, and are usually well organized. They meet deadlines, like planning, and prefer to work on only one thing at a time. Judging types will usually have very well organized notebooks, and will structure their time to complete assignments promptly. Judging types will struggle if changes occur and they need to adapt, or if they are required to work with a group that is not as well organized, or if they need to cram for an exam.
Identifying the judging type:
- Prefers to make decisions with information
- Makes decisions as soon as possible
- Enjoys having closure; like things settled
- Plans and organizes their world
- Likes roles and expectations to be clear
- Enjoys getting things done/being productive
- Plans ahead to avoid last minute stresses
These types are spontaneous and don’t like to be boxed in by deadlines or plans. They want to gather more information before making a decision. They work at many things at once. Ps are flexible and often good in emergencies when plans are disrupted. Their biggest problem is procrastination. Ps may have trouble getting assignments in on time or budgeting their time. They may, however, actually do well cramming for an exam or rushing to get a project finished as they thrive on last-minute pressure.
Identifying the perceiving type:
- Prefers to take in information and understand
- Keeps things open-ended as long as possible
- Seeks to experience and live life; not control it
- Open to new options and last-minute changes
- Enjoys starting projects but often never finish
- Able to adapt; flexible
- Energized by last minute pressures
What are Your Briggs-Myers Letters?
The descriptions above should help you guess which letters you are inclined towards. If you’re still struggling to identify yourself based on the descriptions above, you can try an online test for free. For your child, you can use this test.
One of the greatest difficulties in determining our Briggs-Myers personality lies in the fact that even though we have a predisposition for a certain behaviour, we don’t necessarily have to adhere that behaviour. We can consciously learn to do things that are not preferred. Sometimes societal norms or expectations require us to behave in a manner that is contrary to our preferred response. For instance, we may behave differently in a work environment compared to when we are with our friends. Our true Briggs-Myers personality, therefore, is the choice we would choose when we are in our most relaxed state.
Here’s another example that explains the differences between your preference and a learned behaviour:
If you were to clasp your hands together with fingers intertwined, you will find that you will naturally place the thumb of one hand over the other – that is your preference. If you were to clasp your hands with the opposite thumb on top, you would find the sensation a little odd but you would still be able to do it. That’s exactly what happens when we choose to do things that differ from our preferred behaviour.
Popular Briggs-Myers Personalities
Because I’m geeky like that, I thought these were pretty cool if you want to know which characters you most resemble.
Parenting and the Briggs-Myers Personalities
Understanding your child’s Briggs-Myers Personality can help you understand why your child behaves in a certain manner. While it should never be an excuse for inappropriate behaviour, it can help you understand why certain things are harder for one child compared to another.
For instance, if your introverted child balks at going to a party, you might try easing them into it by getting there early before the crowd arrives. When your sensing child gets upset by the labels on his shirt and seams from his pants, you know why. If your judging type child melts down because you changed the routine and went to the store to pick up groceries instead of going straight home, you know next time that some pre-warning about a change in routine will help.
Learn more about your child’s Briggs-Myers Personality and how to manage it in Nurture by Nature. In this book, you’ll discover:
- which of 16 distinctly different types best matches your child’s personality;
- how this personality type affects your child in each of the three stages of development – preschool, school age, and adolescence;
- how other parents, whose experiences are recounted in scores of case studies, deal with a wide array of challenging situations you may encounter: reining in a preschooler whose boundless energy constantly gets him into trouble;
- communicating with a child who keeps her thoughts and feelings secret;
- understanding an adolescent who seems not to care that he is forever losing things (his homework, his baseball cap, his keys);
- broadening the horizons of a child who resists trying anything new or unfamiliar…;
- how you can adapt your parenting style to your child’s type – and get better results when communicating, supporting, motivating, and disciplining.
Whether your child is a tantrum-prone toddler, a shy third-grader, a rebellious teen, or somewhere in between, Nurture by Nature will give you the power to understand why children are the way they are – and to become the best parent you can be.
If you’re looking for something easy to use that will help your child understand their own personality type, then this book will help.
Each child has certain innate preferences which usually develop in either childhood or adolescence. For each child, some preferences will be well developed and some will be poorly developed and of little interest. My Personality looks at the natural learning style differences that are found in children of different personality types.
Ideal for children between 7-10 years of age, My Personality conveys its message through the use of engaging cartoons and little text. The book is designed to be used in an interactive and fun way, with the parent or teacher guiding the learning.
Information for teachers and parents on how children of different types learn best is provided, as are brief descriptions of each of the 16 types as children.