Are you struggling to connect with your kids? Here’s how to begin using The Personalities with kids and start improving your parent-child relationships TODAY!
It had been a HORRIBLE day.
Mom pulled our old, maroon Oldsmobile up to the curb, and I flung my 11-year-old self down into the seat, backpack smashing into my lap.
“Bad day?” Mom asked.
Mom then launched into her best stand-up comedy routine in an effort to coax a smile from her distraught daughter. It was NOT working.
With the hardest glare imaginable, I ground out, “Why do you think EVERYTHING is SO FUNNY??”
The shocked look on her face said it all. Then, as quickly as it appeared, it was gone, replaced by a smirk. “Girlie girl, I think it’s time you learned about The Personalities.”
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My Introduction to The Personalities
As soon as we walked in the door, Mom grabbed her copy of Personality Plus and handed it to me. “Let’s talk when you’re done reading it.”
I dove in immediately, and Mom & I have been talking Personalities ever since!
I’m pretty sure that knowing, understanding, and being able to apply this particular Personality theory saved my pre-adolescent life. I finally understood that Mom was always trying to cheer me up because she’s a Sanguine. It’s what she does! I was forever frustrated with her “insensitivity” because I’m a Melancholy, and I just want to be understood.
Most of my family is partly Choleric — we ALL want to be boss, hence the never-ending power struggles. Once I finally had a tool to help me deal with all these crazy people, I was able to be much more patient with them — and with myself.
I don’t think my mom threatened to send me off to military school anymore after that, either… ?Are you struggling in your relationships with your kids? The Personalities might just be the key you need to unlock stronger relationships & conquer conflict! Click To Tweet
Do you have your own pre-teen drama to deal with? Not sure how to handle this child who just doesn’t think like you?
Never fear, stressed-out parent, The Personalities are here to help!
If you don’t have a clue what I’m talking about when I say “The Personalities,” be sure to go read this basic overview of each temperament. That post will give you a good foundation to start using Personalities to improve your relationships. In case you’re new and didn’t already know, every Faith & Family Friday this month is dedicated to improving our relationships by using The Personalities. If you need to catch up, here is the rest of the series:
- Why The Personalities are the EASIEST tool for improving relationships,
- How to improve relationships by understanding each Personality’s Emotional Needs, and
- How to use The Personalities to improve your marriage.
And because no relationship is ever completely free from conflict, be sure to also check out this post about how to constructively handle conflict & confrontation — and snag the FREE resource guide to go along with it!
Today, however, we’re going to focus on the three main components of using The Personalities with kids to improve your parent-child relationships. Here we go!
It is REALLY difficult to use this system in your relationships if you don’t understand it well enough to figure out your OWN Personality. If you’re stuck and can’t figure out which Personality fits you best, be sure you’ve read the overview post. If you’ve read that and still have questions, snag a copy of Wired That Way or Personality Plus. And you can always comment below or shoot me an email, and I can help talk you through it.
It’s amazing how sometimes just knowing ourselves and seeing our OWN issues can help improve relationships! Once you understand your own type, you’ll be on a much firmer footing to start understanding your kids and improving your relationships with them.
Understand your kid(s).
I’ve known my daughter is Choleric since well before she could talk, walk, or even crawl. She was probably a month or two old when we first saw it. (Yes, you really can tell VERY early!) This girl wanted what she wanted and she wanted it NOW. If she wanted food, but we gave her cuddles or a drink instead, she SCREAMED bloody murder until we figured out the “right” thing.
Now, as a whirlwind 3.5-year-old, the Choleric Personality is even stronger in her. She doesn’t scream often anymore, but when she’s upset, every gesture, every facial expression is LACED with POWER. Nothing subtle about this one AT ALL. (We don’t call her Mini-Me for no reason! ?)
Knowing Mini-Me is strongly Choleric has been HUGELY helpful in knowing how best to parent her. We give her plenty of “jobs,” lots of choices, and enough independence to discover what she likes and doesn’t like. We work with her need for control, we praise her for a job well done, and otherwise, do what we can to meet her emotional needs.
Ask yourself a few questions:
What do you think your child(ren)’s primary Personalities might be?
What could be their secondary Personalities?
Which emotional needs are crucial for those Personalities, and which ones might not be getting met right now?
How can you change your approach to each child to start meeting those emotional needs?
It might be helpful to make yourself a chart or list — especially if you have more than one child, so you have a visual of which child has which emotional needs and how you are or are not meeting them. (I’m a ridiculously visual person, so I ALWAYS make a chart!) You can even color-code their Personalities:
- Popular Sanguine = Yellow (like happy, golden sunshine)
- Powerful Choleric = Red (with the strength and authority of a red stop sign)
- Perfect Melancholy = Blue (as deep as the deep blue sea)
- Peaceful Phlegmatic = Green (like the peaceful, green grass, billowing in the breeze)
Or make it SUPER easy on yourself and grab this FREE Personalities Simplified chart & cheatsheet that has the color-coding and Personality info all ready to go!
Understand similarities & differences.
If you haven’t noticed, we tend to have the strongest conflict with people who are our COMPLETE opposites in terms of Personality. My mom was the first person to feel the full brunt of that conflict from me because our primary types are TOTAL opposites. Her Sanguine and my Melancholy were like oil and water trying to mesh.
However, our SECONDARY types are the SAME, which also causes conflict. As two Cholerics, we each tend to want things done our own way. But, Mom wants it done the “Sanguine way,” and I want it done the “Melancholy way.” As you can probably imagine, those two ways next to never line up!
How are you and your child(ren) similar or different in your primary Personalities? Do you have one child you just “click” better with because you’re two peas in a pod? Do you struggle with another child because you approach life SO differently? Or is one child driving you nuts because he is EXACTLY like you — in all the ways you’d really rather he wasn’t?
Take some time to really understand the similarities and differences between you and your children. It may just help you love and appreciate the beautiful children you have, even when they’re climbing the walls, telling you they hate you, or otherwise causing you to pull your hair out.
I would have continued thinking every person in the world hated me and was out to make my life miserable if my mom hadn’t taken the time to TEACH me about The Personalities. It was possibly the most defining moment of my young life.
Once you understand your own Personality and have taken time to study the Personalities of your children, sit down and teach them about this awesome tool for understanding themselves and those around them. When the kiddos are little, the teaching is pretty basic and limited to “you are a great leader” or “I love your peaceful spirit” type affirmations. You can point out how their friends are similar or different from them Personality-wise and affirm BOTH temperaments.
When your child is old enough to start seeing other people as different — and struggle to get along with people who are different than them — they are definitely old enough for a more in-depth lesson on Personality typing.
When these relational conflicts arise, it’s important to help our kiddos learn to handle conflict & confrontation well. Most of us don’t really know HOW to do conflict well, which makes teaching our kids hard! Don’t forget to grab this great guide to help you gain the conflict & confrontation skills you’ll need:
Help your kids understand what their strengths are, what strengths you see in them. Call out the awesome things you see in their temperament and show them the GOOD they bring to the world every day.
Then teach them how to LIVE in those strengths. We waste a lot of time trying to get our kids to outgrow or improve upon their weaknesses in order to make our lives easier. But, kids need to learn how to succeed in life because of who they ARE, not who we think they SHOULD be.
Even Solomon reminds us to,
“Train a child in the way *HE* should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”
(Proverbs 22:6, NIV, emphasis mine)
Show your kids how to use THEIR strengths every day to accomplish their goals, and they’ll be MUCH more successful! Isn’t that our goal as parents? To raise well-adjusted, productive citizens who follow God and His purpose in their lives? It’s not about us, parents. It’s about THEM. Teach them well!
A few of the typical strengths (as well as weaknesses and emotional needs!) of each Personality type are included in The Personalities Simplified Cheatsheet to help you, and a complete list can be found in both the book Wired That Way and the Wired That Way Profile.
Teach the proper attitude.
Teaching a proper attitude about anything is so hard, but it makes all the difference in raising kids who function well in the world. The biggest tip here is to make sure kids understand their Personality is NOT an excuse for poor behavior. “I’m grumpy because I’m a Melancholy, Mom. Just DEAL with it!” is NOT an acceptable attitude.
Our Personalities have strengths AND weaknesses, but as we discussed in the previous point, we do NOT have to live in our weaknesses. We have to make wise choices and take responsibility for our own actions, regardless of how we feel or what our “natural” tendencies are. It’s part of growing up. The more our kids see US living in our strengths and displaying a proper attitude, the more they will pick it up for themselves.
Value every type.
It’s really easy to understand Personalities, but still not really VALUE what each type has to offer. Keep your tone in check when talking about Personalities different from your own. Your kids will pick up on the fact that Phlegmatics really annoy you — and then realize they are partially Phlegmatic. Does that mean Mom doesn’t love me?
Careless words always come back to bite us in the butt. Be careful to speak positively about ALL Personality types, even if someone of a particular type is driving you crazy at the moment. Your kids need to see that everyone still has value, even when we don’t get along. Help them see that you love them through the way you value others with their same Personality.
This is a HUGE piece of learning to handle conflict & confrontation constructively!
Value complementary strengths.
I had to learn to value my mom’s desire and ability to make me laugh and to help me see the fun side of life, and my mom had to learn to value my serious nature and my ability to care deeply about what was important to me. Valuing our differing strengths improves our relationship and helps us communicate with respect.Valuing our differing strengths improves our relationships and helps us communicate with respect. Click To Tweet
As parents, we have to learn to value our kids’ strengths, even when they are polar opposites from ours. When we appreciate and point out how our strengths work well together — how we can fill in for each other’s weaknesses — we teach our kids not only to value their own strengths, but to value OURS, as well. (Wouldn’t it be nice for your teenager to recognize how you’re GOOD at something? ?)
Value the combined dynamic.
Families are made up of several (or many!) people with very different Personalities. Each Personality contributes a slightly different aspect to the whole family dynamic. When each of us is functioning in our strengths, our families are unstoppable! We love each other well, we appreciate what each person brings to the table, and we can tackle complex problems we would never be able to solve alone.
The next time you notice your whole family working together well, talk about it! Show your kids you value the family as a whole and are amazed at what you can all do when you work as one. (You can use The Personalities Simplified Cheatsheet to help them visually understand the dynamic!)
In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul talks about the church being one body with many parts. We’re not all designed to be hands, or all feet, or all brains. We need ALL those parts to function properly. So, too, with The Personalities, whether within a church or a family. If we were all the same, we wouldn’t be able to fill in for each other’s weaknesses. As Eugene Peterson paraphrases a section of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians,
“An enormous eye or a gigantic hand wouldn’t be a body, but a monster.” (MSG)
We need a whole, functioning body.
We need a complete BODY, not a monster living in our homes. Take what you’ve learned about The Personalities and use it to build up your home today. Teach your kids about their own importance, about the way he or she should go. And teach your entire family about how each of their unique Personalities helps make a healthy, functioning body — so long as we’re all living in our strengths!
Have you enjoyed this series on using The Personalities to improve your relationships? Please share these posts with your friends and family! (There are share buttons right here on the screen for Facebook, Pinterest, & Twitter!) The more people who understand and can use The Personalities well — the better off our relationships will be!
Share the love, people!
To keep reading and learning about The Personalities, check out:
- Personality Plus (the original book on The Personalities)
- Wired That Way (the updated and expanded book)
- The Wired That Way Workbook
- The Wired That Way Profile
Also, don’t forget to grab your FREE Personalities Simplified Cheatsheet to help you improve your relationships with your kids — and everyone else!
As a former University Resident Director, Career Counselor, Certified Personality Trainer, and high school Spanish teacher, Laura has quite the “scattered” background — with one underlying theme: education! She writes to teach and inspire women on topics related to faith, family, and lifework. She is also a resume writer, specializing in resumes for moms, career changers, and new graduates.