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.
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: