Parenting Based on Personalities

Parenting Based on Personalities

Children are unique individuals. Just look at siblings, even with the same parents and home environment, they’re completely different. They’re different because they’re individuals.

We started noticing some behavior issues soon after Paxton turned 4 (which was also a few weeks after Cecilia’s birth). We were feeling challenged but thought maybe it was just part of being 4 plus the adjustment to a new sibling. There were numerous tantrums, anger issues and hard days. We were at a loss as to what the right approach was.

In late July, I picked up a book about organizing and started skimming. One thing that caught my eye was a description of the 4 personality types: choleric, melancholy, phlegmatic and sanguine. I had studied these personality types in leadership development classes and workshops in high school/college so I was familiar with them and knew that I was a melancholy.

John David and I both have an interest in understanding our personalities. We’ve both taken Meyers Brigg and DISC assessments and use that information professionally as well as in our marriage.

However, we had never thought about personalities in regards to parenting and the personalities of our children.

 

We started talking about these temperament types:

Choleric– high energy, task oriented, goal setter, leader

Melancholy– low energy, task oriented, analyzer, organizer

Phlegmatic– low energy, people oriented, calm, easy going

Sanguine– high energy, people oriented, friendly, optimistic

 

After reading a few articles describing the different temperaments, the personalities of our boys jumped out at us. Paxton is a choleric (like his daddy) and Weston is a sanguine.

While reading in-depth descriptions of these personality types, I started to feel like I understood my children better. It really was a light bulb moment.

I started reflecting on the issues we had been having with Paxton. Almost all of the issues were control issues. He was trying to be the boss in every situation, from putting shoes on to leaving the house, he was trying to exert control.

And, Weston’s personality started to make sense too. He’s a little chatter box that loves making people laugh.

Choleric

We decided the best approach to take with parenting our kids is not going to be a ‘one size fits all approach’. We’re going to have to parent them based on their personalities.

 

Paxton, as a choleric, needs control. Obviously good parenting is not giving a 4-year-old complete control but we can give him some control.

We’ve started letting him choose his own clothes, shoes and pajamas (even if it sometimes means shorts with cowboy boots!)

We are viewing things in light of big decisions that we make and little decisions that he is allowed to make.

Example – The big decision is we’re having tacos for supper and the little decision is that he gets to choose what goes on his taco.

We’re also trying to limit the use of ‘because I said so’ when he asks us ‘why’. He’s an inquisitive, logical child and an honest answer as to why we are doing something has really helped.

 

Weston, as a sanguine, is generally optimistic and full of fun but can be dramatic.

If he gets hurt in any way, he usually makes a big scene but as soon as I kiss his boo boo or simply acknowledge his hurt, he goes right back to his play! Knowing he has a flair for the dramatic has helped me understand his interactions with his brother better.

We’ve also noticed that he has a knack for storytelling. He can make up a whopper of a tale and tell it to us with a straight face. Being aware of this will be beneficial as he gets older and begins attempting to deceive us.

 

Our boys are 4 and 2 and it’s really amazing that their personalities are already so clear at such a young age.  Our daughter is 4.5 months old. At this point, she’s way too young to know what her personality is but we’re definitely looking forward to watching her personality emerge as she grows so we can figure out the best way to parent her too!

While I’m no parenting or personality expert, this information has definitely helped us in our parenting over the past few weeks. There may be no science behind parenting based on personalities but we’re going to continue to study our children and parent them based on their unique personalities.

More in-depth personality information, as related to children:

Personality Types Overview

Choleric

Melancholy

Phlegmatic

Sanguine

 

This photo is a good example of my boys personalities! Choleric Paxton is taking the task of picture taking seriously. Sanguine Weston is having a blast and his personality shines through!
This photo is a good example of my boys personalities. Choleric Paxton is taking the task of picture taking seriously. Sanguine Weston is having a blast and his personality shines through!

responses to “Parenting Based on Personalities” 14

  1. I love this post! My oldest son (4) is choleric too and we have been struggling. We also have another son (2) and he is melancholy. My little girl (7 months) seems to be phlegmatic (ofcourse that could change as she gets older). I work full time and my husband stays home and I struggle with disciplining when I am home because I miss them and my husband struggles to stay calm because he is with them all day. It's nice to hear others experiences and know we are not alone!

    1. Hoping you can take the information you have about all of your personalities and use it to make things better for your family! (And, our baby girl also seems to have a plegmatic temperament, she's so easy going and pleasant!)

  2. Great post Rachel! I'm reading up on each personality type so I can figure out what our girls our. Daniel and I are both melancholy, which is probably why we get along so well. We are homebodies and like to have our personal space. We are definitely introverts!
    Naomi (our 2nd) is sanguine like your Weston! They could probably play all day together and never get tired of each other. I'm still struggling with what Nyla is (she's also 4 and the oldest) is. She definitely has some choleric like your Paxton but she's not super controlling. I've always let her pick our what she wants to wear, etc and she's definitely task oriented. It seems weird but she may be a combo of choleric and melancholy (I know that could change). She likes to have her space and have her space the way she wants it. She also appreciates down time and like to have some time to herself, whereas sister could play all day with her.
    I'm saving this post so I can look into the personality traits further.
    What book did you read that helped you see all this?

    1. Each person has a primary temperament but have blends of the others too. Nyla could very well be half choleric and half melancholy! The book I picked up was a book about disorganization (Messies 2). It mentioned how personalities effect our organization or lack thereof. So, it wasn't about parenting, the personality part just got my wheels spinning.

  3. Good info. I have also read books on personality types and yes this info really really helps with the children on all levels. Like my sanguine daughter loves affection my other daughter a melancholy not so much. Lol .

    1. Yes, melancholies definitely don't need much affection! 🙂 I often tell my husband at the end of the day, I'm completely touched out after loving on little ones (especially my sanguine!)

  4. What great info! I work with little ones (don't have any of my own yet) and can definitely see where this awareness would be helpful. Thank you for sharing!

  5. Oh yes i love that book. I bought it in frustration of my son’s and children in the church’s behavior. Understanding the personality types really helped.

  6. This is great, Rachel! Thank you for bringing this to my attention as I was not previously familiar with these personality classifications. I am, without a doubt, a melancholy type! I look forward to reading more about this in my own personal studies and using the newfound insight in my own life! Thanks!

  7. Hey Rachel. It’s been a lot of years since we’ve talked but I just wanted to let you know that I think you have become a wonderful Godly woman, wife, and mother. Your blog really helps me in some situations in my life and family. Thank you for sharing. What book did you ready about the personalities? I have 2 very different little girls and I think it might help me also understand them. We are expecting a baby boy in march and could not be happier. Thanks again and please continue to share all your helpful hints.

    1. Hi Maegan!! Thanks for this sweet comment. The book I read was actually a book about disorganization (called Messies 2). It mentioned how personalities effect our organization or lack thereof. So, it wasn't a book about parenting, the personality part just got my wheels spinning! Congrats on your baby on the way!

  8. Thanks for the idea! My son is also high energy person, however I can't identify whether he is a choleric or a sanguine. I'll do more research in this regard. Hope it will help me to understand him better.

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