A while back, Mystie told me that personality typing her children was the best thing she ever did — that it really helped her understand her children better. So I googled around, found a test, and tried to type my children. But the tests and quizzes I found didn’t really work. A lot of the questions just weren’t applicable, or they felt like they were intended for very small children, or much older children. Or I was asked how a child would most likely respond, and given two possible options, neither of which sounded like my child.
So I bothered Mystie about it, and this time she told me about a book. It’s called Nurture by Nature.
How to Use This Book
I feel like I started out badly with this book (I went straight to the personality pages), so I’m going to share how I would suggest you use it to type your children. It might keep you from feeling stumped for a number of days, which is what happened to me. If you’re like me, you’ll be really tempted to guess what your child is, and then go read the big, long profile to confirm. Don’t do this. I had a child that I thought was an introvert that I have since decided is actually an extrovert, just a more mild one than the extreme extrovert that is our youngest child.
Instead, use chapter 2 and this chart:
This is what we ended up doing, and it worked really well. On Saturday, my husband and I went out to breakfast at Starbucks, and I brought the book and this chart. We went through chapter 2, reading the description of each letter pairing (for example, the first column is extrovert or introvert). The book has a chart that has around seven opposing characteristics. For example, extroverts think out loud while introverts think things through before speaking.
We used tally marks for this. So, in the E/I column, our children who think out loud were given a tally on the left side of the dashed line, while our children who think before speaking got a tally mark on the right side. Does this make sense?
What I found really helpful about this, versus just guessing, was that it also allowed me to see how extreme each child was. For example, my oldest child is extremely extreme. Yes, he gets two extremes to describe him. There was never any balance in his tally marks.
We had times when we had a tie, or we felt like we just didn’t know that aspect of a child enough to give a tally. On those occasions, we just skipped it. We decided that everything else would give us enough information to type the child, and this ended up being true.
At the end, we wrote out the letters in the final column (under the question mark) that were most heavily weighted.
The next step after this was to go to chapter 3 and read the brief descriptions for each child, to make sure we thought we were right. Once we confirmed what we thought, we read through the big chapter on each child’s type. The chapters are lengthy, but they are divided into ages. What we decided to do was focus on the present. So we read the age group each child fell into, the “what works with this type” charts, and that sort of thing. We intend to use the book as a reference, going back and reading more as they move into other age groups.
Finding Comfort in What’s “Normal” for a Type
I know I joke about my youngest child, but truly I do not know what to do with him sometimes. This is the main reason I wanted to do something like this. As extreme as our oldest child is, I. get. him. My youngest is a whirlwind of mystery to me. He is hard for me to manage. He wears me out. And he has so much emotion that I, the heartless INTP that I am, cannot possibly understand.
I mean, really?? Why are we crying right now??
I don’t get it.
I cannot tell you what a relief it was to read this about my child:
…they are … exhausting … Their parents are often worn out by midday …
Because ENFPs are so energized by interacting with other people, they often become so wound up that they lose control of themselves. … [W]ithout the maturity that will eventually help them regulate their energy, they tend to become louder, wilder, and more outrageous, the more excited they get.
Life can be chaotic with an ENFP. They seem to create messes everywhere…
Do you know what a relief it is to know that this is not my fault? I really thought that I hadn’t been as consistent with this child as with the other children and that was why he goes crazy — literally crazy — every Friday when Friend C. comes over.
No. He’s just an ENFP.
Which also means he needs a lot of help. And it means I need a lot of help. And thankfully a number of the tips in the book were things I hadn’t been deliberate about before, and they seem to be working a bit already.
A House Full of Feelers
My three younger children are all F’s. Two of them are pretty extreme F’s. I think this explains why I feel so overwhelmed by them by the end of the week. It’s just a lot of emotion for me. I have feelings, yes, but not on this level. I prefer to talk about ideas rather than feelings and why everyone takes everything so personally has been a great mystery to me.
The first thing I did was have a talk with my oldest child and explain to him that this is why they frustrate him so much. I have no clue if this helped, but I certainly felt better. Ha.
Do I Really Need to Know My Child’s Type?
Well, of course not! People have parented for thousands of years without knowing their child’s MBTI. But for me, I felt up against a wall when it came to a couple children, and I really think this straightened things out for me. Probably the best reason to do this is if you have children who are confusing you or wearing you out.
Also, we have one child who has had some things going on. Typing her was very helpful. It allowed us to see what was “normal” for her type … and what wasn’t. It helped us know how to help her better.
In all, if you’ve been wanting to type your child, this worked really well for us. It was fun to do it together. This is the sort of thing my husband would never, ever do on his own. But talking through it at Starbucks was kind of fun, even for him.
Which was nice.
Want Another Resource?
The Practical Personality Portfolio from Simplified Organization has been a huge help around here. Start with the workbook that helps you type yourself and your people. After that, move to the 13-page handbook explaining in simple and straightforward terms, with clear and insightful charts, not only the four-letter system of Myers-Briggs personalities, but also the underlying meaning.
Also included is a library of tools — a veritable MBTI treasure trove! — full of helpful tools, videos, and more.
Get the (almost) weekly digest!
Weekly encouragement, direct to your inbox, (almost) every Saturday.