I’ve been reading about personality types. Partly because I am an extremely driven melancholy choleric who must know everything :), and partly because I believe that it’s part of responsibilty as a parent to understand my kids the best I can.
And part of that, is knowing what makes them tick.
Now I know a few people who are a little against personality naming and whatnot, usually because they hate to be put in a box. I get that; no one wants to be labelled. And I know a lot of people who think that personality is rigid and set in concrete from birth; we all have a type and we stay that type.
Personally, I think the idea is a valid one. I think you can definitely see the characteristics that mark one person as one ‘type’ more than another, and I have no problem with being one more than another. Having said that, I resist the idea that we cannot change. I completely, one hundred percent believe that we can and do. We have the power to improve on our strengths and fight against our weaknesses, and if classifying a person as one type over another helps someone to see their potential flaws and successes, I think that’s a good thing.
So having said all that, I’ve always had a ‘loose’ understanding of my children and where they fit in to the four types. (Sanguine, Choleric, Phlegmatic and Melancholy.) I’ve never used this as a way to define or confine them, and I’ve never told them ‘their label.’ It’s just something Boatman and I keep in the back of our head, for training purposes. It’s useful to know that Bridie as a strong choleric is driven; so giving her a task oriented goal is good or her. It’s also wise to know that she has a natural leadership desire, and that is a great thing, but not when it is manifest in the form of bossiness. It’s my job to teach her to lead with respect, and humility, not in an overbearing fashion.
Similarly, my Sanguine child loves to be the life of the party, and it’s great to encourage her to use that gift to be friendly, and extend compassion to those in need. It’s also mindful to be aware that as a story teller, she is prone to exaggeration and dishonesty. And she also could be potentially very scatterbrained. (Which she is.) 🙂
Now to reiterate; the point is not to define our kids; but just to be aware of potential areas that may need addressing.
The reason for my interest just lately, however, has come from my dear little Boatman Junior. I love that kid so much, but he is the classic melancholic child. He can be negative, perfectionistic, and very quick to point what is not going right for him.
As a melancholy myself, I can understand some of this; I get it. You don’t want to do anything unless you know you can do it well, which means why even try right? And it’s good to look at all the pros and cons of a situation before diving in head first. And people are exhausting! I find them all together too much sometimes!!! We are on the same page!
I’m sure he’s worse than me. Some days, just lately, I find him entirely too much to bear.
So I’m reading this book, trying to work out how I can
fix him, help him better. I want some skills in the way I need to address issues. If he doesn’t want to try something because he is afraid of failure, I don’t want to brow beat him into it; I want to encourage him with sensitivity and gentleness. I’m hoping that I get these skills.
Except in reading it, I start to wonder if the problem is not as much his, as mine? Because doing the personality quiz, I realise that yes, I am very melancholic in nature, as is he. But I’ve also got a healthy dash of Choleric thrown in. So whilst I can be negative and get down easily, the combination of these two, also makes me very driven and goal focused, and ready to conquer just about anything I think I can.
Which, unfortunately in this situation, is my son.
He needs some help obviously, because extreme negativity is not a good thing to have. And I need those skills too, and thankfully I’ve got the get up and go to search for them. But I need to not come at it from my view point of ‘here is the goal,’ and let’s tick all the boxes. That’s me thinking the way that works for me; not the way that is going to work for him.
So the question then becomes, ‘do I need to change him? Or do I need to change me?’ Or even deeper, ‘Do I need to change me, in order to help him change who he is?’ Not because either of us is any less because of our weaknesses, but because we all have the potential to make ourselves better to help others.
What are your thoughts?