By Karen Harvey
This is the third of a 4-part look at your child’s personality.
The thinking vs. feeling component of your child’s personality determines how she makes decisions. A Thinker (T) makes decisions based on logic, using objective facts and data to reach a conclusion. A Feeler (F), on the other hand, makes decisions based on values and what feels right, looking at how a particular choice will impact others.
Here are some ways to tell whether your child is a Thinker or a Feeler:
- In a conversation, does your child tend to be tactful and concerned about the impact his words have on others (F) or is he more honest, straightforward and direct, even if what he’s saying might upset the other person (T)?
- Does your child get her feelings hurt easily, or seem overly sensitive (F)?
- Is your child objective and assertive (T) or more gentle and empathetic (F)?
- When playing games, does your child tend to be more competitive (T) or cooperative (F)?
If your child is a Thinker:
- She wants to know the reasons for a rule, so that it makes sense to her. “Because I said so” is an especially unsatisfying rationale to this child.
- Try to help him develop more empathy, so he can better recognize his impact on others. A T child may not understand why an F playmate or sibling gets angry when he says something that might be perceived by the F as critical.
- Praise needs to be based on specific achievements for your child to accept it and take it seriously. She wants to be valued and appreciated for genuine and legitimate (to her) reasons.
- In spite of a tough exterior, this child still has emotions, but he may need help trying to process or express them.
If your child is a Feeler:
- Recognize that it’s difficult for her to make a decision that will cause someone to be unhappy.
- Because she wants so much to be liked, it will be especially important for you to address peer pressure and the need to think for herself.
- Physical contact, while important for all children, is especially important for an F. He needs a lot of hugs and touching.
- Conflict is hard for him to handle. Being around people who are arguing is extremely uncomfortable for him.
- Be aware, especially if you’re a T, that your child is likely to take things personally much more often than seems reasonable. You may think you’re making a general observation about your child, but she may take the comment personally and believe she’s being criticized.
Keep in mind that these traits are not choices; they are hard-wired into the child’s make-up. An F child doesn’t choose to be sensitive, nor does a T child choose to be logical, but as a parent it may seem to you that children are more difficult if their characteristic is the opposite of yours.
Also, in times of conflict these traits especially polarize. The F becomes more emotional, which makes the T really uncomfortable. The T responds by becoming more cold and rigid, making the F more emotional, and a vicious cycle ensues. If this dynamic arises with your child, try especially hard to meet your child where she is. Acknowledge and accept her emotions, if she’s an F, or try to present yourself logically and with supporting facts if he’s a T.
Next up: Does your child prefer structure or spontaneity?
Karen Harvey, CEC, is a life coach and mother of two who specializes in working with moms. Visit her website at www.clarityandbalance.com.