What is your child’s personality type? Jared Peterson recently wrote a best seller, “12 Rules for Your Life: An Antidote to Chaos.” Rule 5 deals with children: “Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them.” In this chapter, Peterson describes six innate personality types for children that are difficult or impossible to change, but which give us insight into not only our children and grandchildren, but most importantly, into ourselves.
Each type has its strengths and weaknesses.
Pleasers: These are children whose goal is doing what their parents want them to do. They are wonderful children to have. Their strength is also their weakness, however. They tend to be risk averse and dependent. Peace-at-any-price means they are often taken advantage of by those around them.
Independents: According to Peterson, “They want to do what they want, all the time. They can be challenging, non-compliant, and stubborn.” A few of our 11 grandchildren fit this category. Their strength is independent thinking and confidence. They are the opposites of Pleasers.
Concretes: These children see the world in black-and-white. For them, life is based on facts and the literal. They have difficulty understanding abstract ideas, or if they do understand, they don’t see the point. When joked with, they don’t get it. I’ve met many adult engineers who fall into this category. The Data character of “Star Trek” fame comes to mind for Concretes; knowledgeable and logical, but socially clueless.
Mistake Haters: These children are desperate for rules. They are willing to put up with rigidity as long as it provides them order and certainty. When I was a late teen, I fell into this category and joined a religious cult. Only later did I realize that when I let others do my thinking for me, I suffered the consequences. I left the cult when I was in my early twenties, still hating to make mistakes, but realizing that I would have to rely on myself rather than others or our culture to live an orderly life.
The Red Queen in “Alice and Wonderland”: This type has little regard for predictability. She/he loves chaos and feeds on disorder. Life for her is a constant high since she is constantly challenging conventional thinking. This personality type is highly creative and confident with their actions but is often demanding and controlling. Life for those around such people can be like riding a rollercoaster: Thrilling and frightening simultaneously.
For those Red Queens in your life, children or adults, their arrogance and pride and insecurity keep them from facing reality. They continue in their obnoxious ways unless a firm hand is applied. Their behavior prevents them from being liked, except by those who want others to do their thinking for them.
The Artsy: They are wildly imaginative and creative. These people are fascinating to observe and talk with because they come up with new ideas and ways of looking at life. The difference between this type and the Red Queens is that Artsy people do not try to lead or dominate others. They usually live in worlds of their own and do not take away the order of others. While they may live in chaos, they are also wonderfully creative and non-threatening. They are gentler souls than the Red Queens.
Finally, Peterson’s ends his chapter for rule # 5 with this thought:
“You love your kids, after all. If their actions make you dislike them, think what an effect they will have on other people, who care much less about them than you. Those other people will punish them, severely, by omission or commission. Don’t allow that to happen…. There are no greater gifts that a committed and courageous parent can bestow.
Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them.”