Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Personality Types: Estp's, Infp's, and Enfj's ... O MY!

I just finished reading a book about different personality types (based on the Meyers-Briggs tests) and how to nurture our kids while taking those personality types into account. For instance, Aubrey is (based on my feeble attempts at 'labeling' her) a "INFP -- introverted, intuitive, feeling, perceiving".

Therefore, she needs an enormous amount of "constant love, reassurance and protection from a busy high-pressured and sometimes unfeeling world." She can "tend to become moody, pessimistic and negative when she feels unloved or unwanted." She values close relationships and has a great need to have harmony around her.

I'm instructed to "heap on a steady measure of reassurance, love, supportive looks, touches and encouraging comments." Her self-esteem comes from feeling understood and accepted.

A side-bar in the book tells me what "works" for INFP's.

*provide lots of books; read to them constantly.
*go to the library regularly and have own library card.
*expose her to cultural arts.
*speak softly, use gentle voice and maintain physical and eye contact when you correct a misbehavior.
*apologize quickly and sincerely if you lose your temper or raise your voice to her.
*encourage her to talk about her ideas; listen quietly and give her your undivided attention.
*respect the legitimacy of imaginary life
*encourage her to express feelings in words or in drawings. listen and carefully rephrase their feelings to help them clarify them.
*allow her to watch from the sidelines as long as she needs before joining in and give her plenty of time to play alone or simply daydream.
*respect the intensity of her feelings
*support intellectual curiosity and artistic expression.
*help her find ways to keep herself organized and on time; model how to set and meet goals.
*appeal to her feelings and values in times of conflict or disagreement.
*get her ideas and input on alternative ways to solve problems; give her plenty of advance notice about changes that affect her personally.
*help her make decisions by explaining that few choices are irrevocable.

Most of the information was stuff I already felt in my gut, but now had validation or permission to acknowledge. I have always instinctually treated Aubrey with more tenderness and have always been concerned about her sensitivity in many areas of her life. From not hurrying her too much, and acknowledging the absolute fairyness in her play, to asking Paul to not tease her because she took it too personally.

I have wondered if I perpetuated her sensitivity and tender feelings by treating her so gently and looking out for her like that -- Paul certainly believed it -- but now I feel :) vindicated, of a sort. I was right all along.

Joey-Boy is an ESTP (extraverted, sensing, thinking perceiving).

He needs: "plenty of hands-on experiences, crystal clear directions and expectations and more physical freedom than just about any other type." He "rarely take anything seriously, so rules, limits and boundaries just don't affect him." He "likes being naked and dislikes restrictive feelings of some clothing" (like coats and underwear -- my italics). He's drawn to water, dirt, mud and the beach. (yes, this is all Joey. The book has him spot-on.)

I need to: "supply him with enough activities, friends and excitement to keep him from becoming bored, cranky and mischievous." Apparently, "empathy, tact and sensitivity are learned skills for ESTP's." (Lovely.) "Parents need to explain, clearly and unemotionally, the logic of why they (or anyone else) feels the way they do in response to his actions."

They suggest making a game out of chores, to give them plenty of opportunities to solve their own problems, and to try to minimize the number of unnecessary limits. And also to "state values clearly and simply and not over-charge the topic with unnecessary emotion." It works better they tell me.

ESTP's self-esteem comes from trying new things and mastering them on their own. "Helping [Joey] find constructive and useful outlets for his great energy, open-mindedness and zest for living helps him to feel good about the person he is." It may also prove helpful when Joey is an adolescent, to remind him that "there are many different kinds of intelligence and many kinds of achievement."

The side-bar for ESTP's looks like this:

*find unending and constructive outlets for their high physical energy; playgrounds, play with him, wear him out! (this sounds exhausting to me)
*childproof your house!
*show patience with the repeated questions and stream of consciousness speaking; take breaks as needed, but don't give them the wrong impression that they are pests for noticing the world the way they do.
*set crystal clear boundaries and show them what you mean, rather than telling.
*Be consistent in enforcing rules, say what you mean and mean what you say.
*swift action and immediate, logical consequences are more effective than words.
*Be realistic about order, neatness and wisdom of breakables, while child is young at least.
*Rephrase the thoughtless comments they make; repeat back to them a revised and more tactful version.
*model patience, sharing and negotiating skills.
*make chores a game; put on music and clean things up as you dance.
*use fun as an incentive; reward initiative or dependability with trips to the .... (I personally disapprove of this strategy.)
*explain why you or someone else feels as they do; explain the emotional and personal consequences of their behavior.
*use reality based, hands on learning.

So my confession here is that I was exhausted, discouraged and even slightly belligerent while reading about the ESTP's. As a different personality type than my son (I lean toward enfj status), my motivations are ones of love, friendship and understanding. I'm empathic and intuitive and to know that "empathy, tact and sensitivity [will be] learned skills" for him makes me cringe. It sounds borderline sociopathic. In a quirky, fun-loving way, of course.

Most of what I read, again, was stuff I already knew and cater to. I've started up the weekly trips to the park, he goes weekly to a gymnastics open gym where he can run and bounce galore, I try to get in a couple of field trips a month for him, and I home-school him so the "sit in your seat and don't make noise" is at a minimum. Well, gone actually, because we are more of an un-schooling household, as opposed to one with a curriculum based home-schooling approach.

But coming from a person that would much rather sit and read, or write on my novel, or work my arts and crafts ... or travel to exotic lands and learn about alternative lifestyles and cultures (ok, so that one might not fit ... though, truthfully, I don't think Joey would be interested in that either), playing tag in the park doesn't do it for me. His level of need for physically energy-depleting activities creates in me the desire to breathe slow. In a cave of feather blankets. And hibernate.


Valerie Willman said...

I just took a Facebook quiz that said I was an ENFP.

Rachelle said...

Hi. I found your blog searching for INFP and homeschooling. My son is an INFP (his twin is an ESTJ, like your kids they have entirely different life approaches). I always felt protective of my INFP too. He's quite the imaginative dreamer and so incredibly sensitive/easily hurt/needing harmony. His twin, is a tell it like it is (in a rather domineering and bossy) way so it's a balance between them. I'm thinking homeschooling two very different kids is going to present it's own challenges (dreamer boy and concrete literal thinker aren't going to resonate with the same material I don't think!)