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Friendship–Fun and Folly

colorful kids

Watching our children make friends can be an interesting process. From the time they are young, we can see traits emerge in them that make those friendships form or last. Granted, many children go through the same stages of development and learning to play alongside and play interactively with other children, but there are other things that we can watch unfold that are more personality related.

So how do the four personality types look when it comes to friendships? Let’s take a look!

The Playful Sanguine child will make friends easily, and will have lots of friends. They approach strangers and talk easily. It is easy for them to join in with a group and gravitate toward those they want to make friends with. They are not alone long in a new situation, as they open up easily and find someone they can talk and share things with. They are not very selective and are able to have fun with just about anyone that’s willing.

The Powerful Choleric child will be a leader in a group. So there will be those who follow them and interact with them as they lead the way. Those who don’t mind being told what to do, and when, will get along well with this child. For those that like to be in charge, there may be a little battle for the role. Powerful Choleric children don’t feel the necessity to make friends or keep friends.

The Proper Melancholic child will make friends cautiously. They will be very selective about the people that they make friends with. They will favor those who follow the rules and do what is right. Loyalty is a trait they take seriously. They would rather have one or two very quality friends than lots of superficial friends. It will take this child a great deal of trust to open up and share even with their friend.

The Peaceful Phlegmatic child will make friends easily. Encouraging others or trying to make others feel included usually wins a friend or two. It may be hard for them to initiate friendships or strike up conversation with strangers, but if the situation calls for that, they will usually come through. Their peace making trait will keep things calm and comfortable for everyone.

These are the characteristics of the personalities as they happen naturally. But knowing the personalities can also help us encourage our children in ways that might be more healthy and cause them to grow. So how can we help our child stretch and grow?

Playful Sanguine:

  • Teach them to be careful of strangers to not get in a bad situation
  • Help them learn the importance of being selective

Powerful Choleric:

  • Teach them to be considerate of others and not be bossy
  • Help them learn that others can be easily hurt by strong emotion or careless words

Proper Melancholic:

  • Teach them to be willing to take a risk with making friends
  • Help them learn that sharing things about themselves will help others connect with them

Peaceful Phlegmatic:

  • Teach them that sometimes they have to be willing to initiate and not just be a follower
  • Help them learn that it is not their job to work out all the problems other friends have


It can be fun to watch their natural tendencies emerge. And watching them grow and learn about what makes a friendship better can have both joys and challenges. When we take time to help them grow and learn about these traits, we can help them find good friends, enjoy good friends, and be good friends. And that is a trait that can benefit them for life!


What!? My Child Has A Default Setting?!

personality chart2

I just don’t get my child! How do I know what they want?!

I have heard numerous weary parents express this sentiment in a variety of ways. It can be hard to think like a child, and especially when that child is worlds different than our natural personality bent. And sometimes, even if they share the same personality, a parent and child can really butt heads, being so similar and wanting things so similar, yet going about it in two very different ways. So how do we anticipate what our kids want? How do we figure out what moves them or motivates them?

We remember the default setting. The what? The default setting. You see, each personality has what we might consider a motto. It is kind of like the core of their personality, sums many things up in just a short little phrase, and functions kind of like their default setting. It’s what they choose or desire or do without even thinking about it. This is easy to remember and can kind of act like a reset button in our own minds when we feel like we’re stuck! It can be a lifesaver in those moments that we just can’t figure out what to do.

So what are the personality mottos?

The Playful Sanguine child’s motto:   “I must have some excitement!”

The Powerful Choleric child’s motto:  “I must have some control!”

The Proper Melancholic child’s motto:  “I must have some order!”

The Peaceful Phlegmatic child’s motto:  “I must have some rest!”

We had a recent example of this in our own home. Our kids were struggling with getting their chores done. I felt like I was putting more effort into getting them to do their jobs then they were putting into doing their jobs. So, I kindly made them chore charts to help them be accountable (and hopefully reduce my amount of nagging and frustration). Despite my best efforts at helping them succeed with my cute charts, we were still struggling! So, I slowed myself up one day and thought about what they might really need to get motivated.

Then, I asked each child to make their own chore chart. It was rather interesting to see what they came up with, but it so beautifully illustrates this point!


Here are some of the key things I noticed:


  • My Powerful Choleric (natural leader) was the first to start the process. He even taught a couple of the others how to use the program and spreadsheet feature.

chore charts1

  • My Playful Sanguine and Peaceful Phlegmatic children (both personalities being relational) placed pictures of them with other people all around their charts to decorate them.


  • My Peaceful Phlegmatic that wants rest was sure to mark his chart with the reminder that Sunday was no jobs, just REST!
  • My Powerful Choleric/Proper Melancholic (being task focused) was sure to point out to the others that there didn’t need to be any designs, as this was a CHORE Chart…it was not supposed to be fun!

We have had much more success with the chore charts. Are we perfect?  No! By no means can I claim we are! But in slowing down, I remembered that I was going to get the best movement and buy-in when I could tap into what really mattered to them or motivated them. My Playful Sanguines needed some excitement, so to see a fun chart that they designed themselves would be far more appealing than my chart that was the same for everybody. My Powerful Choleric needed to have some control. By making his own chart and placing his tasks on it, he was deciding how it would be done. My Peaceful Phlegmatic just needed that little light at the end of the tunnel that REST would come!

Each child now has a chore chart that has the same chores I would have put on them, and they are still required to do the same thing as before. But because I took the time to address the core motivators, I am getting a much better response. Who would guess that such a small little twist could change a home?! That’s what it’s like to function with the default setting!

I Think We Are a BAD Combination!


personality chart

What if my personality and my child’s personality are just a bad mix?

More times than I could even count, I am approached after speaking and asked this question. I have to laugh a little, because I can usually guess what the child is immediately!

When I take my guess, “Let’s see, would your child be a Powerful Choleric or Red on the chart?” The parent looks amazed. “And let me venture that you are probably one of these personalities (pointing at the Peaceful Phlegmatic and the Proper Melancholic).” They shake their head and get a glazed look over their eyes.

Let me first say that there is NOT a bad combination. There are some easier combinations, and there are combinations that take some understanding. And that is the first step in getting somewhere– getting perspective. Often times, the Powerful Child is termed a spirited, determined, or strong-willed child. We try to keep all of those terms positive, and understand that this child is indeed a powerful individual. This child working in their strengths is unstoppable and amazing! This child in their struggles is unmovable and exhausting! What I find often, is that a parent of the opposite personality is struggling to understand their child. (Ex: my child is a Powerful Choleric and I am a Peaceful Phlegmatic, but it could be opposites in any direction.) And that is a very real issue. I have experienced that on a few occasions with my own children. The things that totally throw me for a loop relate to personality differences. I just don’t think or function like they do.

I could easily chalk it up to just being a bad combination, but that’s not really accurate or helpful. The truth is we are both different. We both think in different ways. We are motivated in different ways. We function in very opposite ways. But the good news is that with some understanding and some practical tools, any combination can work well together. It will take some strength and care as a parent to learn to think and operate outside your box and really try to understand what makes your child tick! In some ways, you will train yourself to think like your child. In this way, you will learn what works well with them and what tends to flop. You will begin to see a pattern of behavior that will not feel so out of control or unpredictable. That in itself can help you feel like you aren’t losing your mind! Remember perspective is key!

Ask yourself a few questions today:

  • In what ways are our personalities similar?
  • In what ways are our personalities different?
  • When do I struggle most to think like he/she does?
  • How can I slow down and understand his/her thought process/actions?
  • What difference would it make if I understood that it was just a personality difference not something they are doing wrong?

While these sound like easy questions, you may be surprised at the difference slowing down and shifting your thought process can make.

You just might be a parent struggling to understand how your personality and your child’s personality work together. You might be interested in reading the book The You Zoo. There you will find this specific thing addressed as well as some parenting tips for each personality combination.

What Personality is the Best Personality?

kids and colors

Now that’s a loaded question! The Powerful Cholerics would say they are, because they keep things running. The Proper Melancholic would say they are, because they keep everything organized and in order. The Peaceful Phlegmatics would say they are, because they keep everyone getting along. And the Playful Sanguines would say they are, because they bring the fun. Most personalities feel like their personality is the best. But truth be known, all personalities have strengths and struggles. All personalities are needed in this world. So which personality is the best personality?

The one living in their strengths!

It can be tempting to look at the personalities of children and think, “Why can’t my child be more like that?!” That can be a normal response. After all, you may think another personality looks more fun, happier, more compliant, more similar to yours, or just plain easier. But please try to remind yourself that each personality has a special role and function. Just like a box of crayons has many different shades and colors, so does the world of people! You may need a blue to color the sky, a yellow for the sun, green for the grass, and a red for the fire engine zooming by! There is not one color that can do it all!

It is also important to remember that being a certain personality does not mean that we write off teaching our children to do things outside of their personalities. Granted, you may have a child whose natural personality is very orderly and even organizes things for fun. This Proper Melancholic child will probably keep a clean room and need little direction in doing so. On the other hand you may have a Playful Child that can’t keep track of anything and can’t keep order of their life depended on it. That doesn’t mean that the Playful Child gets to write off being clean or ordered. You as a parent may need to work with the Playful Child to help them learn what methods help them keep their room clean and manageable. Likewise, you may need to set a realistic expectation of what clean will look like for each child.

You may have a Peaceful Phlegmatic child that speaks carefully and avoids conflict or upset at any cost. This child will probably have smooth relationships that require little oversight or redirection. You may have a Powerful Choleric child that says the first thing that comes to mind, no matter how harsh or strong their words may sound. That doesn’t mean that the Powerful Child gets off the hook for learning to speak with gentle or kind tones. You as a parent may need to work with the Powerful Child to learn the power of their words and the effect on others.

Our personalities may be the reason that certain traits come easy for us. They may help explain a frame of reference. They may even help us predict or anticipate our child’s response. This does not mean that we enable or justify traits or behaviors that are unhealthy or not constructive. Our personality type is like a road map. We can figure out where we are, where we are going, obstacles we may come upon, and the best route to get where we want to be.

Our challenge as parents comes in teaching our children to live in their strengths. We encourage them to grow, practice, and learn those things that are necessary but not easy. We train them to use their natural strengths to develop good relationships and good character.

You may find that as you learn about the personalities, you have some questions that come up. Feel free to contact me if you have a question you would like me to address. I will take some time in the next few days to answer some commonly asked questions. I would love to take time to address your thoughts or questions as well. Visit or email with your questions.

When the Experiment Goes Crazy! If Emotional Needs Are Not Met…Part 2



Let’s take a moment to talk specifically about each personality. What might show when their emotional needs are not being met? What can you do about it?

The Playful Sanguine child needs affection, acceptance, approval, and attention. When these needs are not met, you might see some of the following behaviors:

  • Overly dramatic and fits
  • Talking over others to the point that they rudely and loudly interrupt others
  • Hanging on adults, not able to respect other’s boundaries
  • Excessive lying
  • Constant attempts to top others stories

If you notice these things in your Playful Sanguine child, what can you do?

  • Find appropriate ways to communicate with them. Look them in the eye and be responsive to what they share. Make an attempt to match their expression and enthusiasm.
  • Remind them of ways that they can appropriately let you know they have something to share and wait for your full attention.
  • Give plenty of hugs, both when they ask and before they ask. Even just small gestures of touch, such as touching their head when near, patting their back, or rubbing their shoulders as you pass make them feel noticed and cared about. Respond quickly to their attempts at hugging and touching.
  • Teach them to talk honestly and speak truth. Also appreciate their tall tales and imaginative stories or details. It is also helpful to train them to tell their listeners when they were just telling a story!

The Powerful Choleric child needs achievement, credit for his/her work, to have some control, and support for his/her ideas or plan. When these needs are not met, you might see some of the following behaviors:

  • Fits of anger
  • Lack of cooperation
  • Haughty or overly proud attitude
  • Bossy or overbearing
  • Arguing to try to be right

What can you do if you notice these behaviors in your Powerful Choleric child?

  • Stop and notice all they can do
  • Comment on what they are doing well and right, but make sure it is genuine or it will have the opposite effect
  • Give them appropriate choices so they can feel as though they have control in what is going
  • Ask them for their opinion or thoughts
  • Let them be in charge of something that matters


The Proper Melancholic child needs to have space to call their own, support from those in charge, separation from noise and clutter, and time to think through changes. When their needs are not being met, you might notice the following behaviors:

  • Excessive moodiness
  • Getting nit-picky and critical of others
  • Overly selfish–getting so deeply focused on themselves that they can’t see others around them
  • Unable to move ahead because they are stuck on perfectionism
  • Overwhelmed by being self-conscious


What can you do if you notice these behaviors in your own Proper Melancholic child?

  • Pause and hear their frustration
  • Don’t attempt to cheer them, because they want to feel your support and understanding. Cheering them makes them think that they don’t have a right to feel what they feel.
  • Give them time to slip away from a group if they need to regroup or refuel (even if it is his/her own birthday party!)
  • Assure them that you will try to do things fairly when they feel overwhelmed by an unjust situation
  • Let them have an area that is solely theirs. Even if it is only a book corner, so they can organize it and have a place for only them

The Peaceful Phlegmatic child needs to have time for relaxation and sleep, praise for who they are, lack of tension and stress, and acknowledgement of contributions. When their needs are not being met, you might notice the following behaviors:

  • Shutting down because of being overwhelmed
  • Physical ailments because of holding emotions in
  • Withdrawing and not communicating
  • Avoiding work and anything that takes energy
  • Immovable with a quiet will of iron

What can you do if you notice these behaviors in your own Peaceful Phlegmatic child?

  • Give them down time to refuel
  • Ask them for their ideas or thoughts, but don’t put them on the spot in front of others
  • Notice and thank them for what they do and contribute
  • Listen…this personality often feels as though they are not heard, are overlooked, and don’t matter. Stop and listen to them. Ask non-threatening questions, and then stop and listen again.
  • Slow down your pace and lighten up the schedule…just the thought of being too busy can immobilize a peaceful phlegmatic

These are just a few practical ideas you can use for each of the personalities. You would be surprised how you can de-escalate a behavior, simply by addressing the core need. If, for example you find yourself nearly sick by the haughty actions of a choleric, you will pause and give them some genuine praise. You may find yourself thinking, “That’s the last thing I’m going to do. It will only create a monster.” But when you stop and address the need, they don’t need to try so desperately to get the need met. The behavior de-escalates and you can feel the relationship strain diminish. Give it a try! You might be amazed.

When the Experiment Goes Crazy! If Emotional Needs Are Not Met…Part 1


Sometimes as a parent, you look around and think, “What happened here?” It may look or sound like there was an explosion of sorts. It’s in these moments that you can usually guess that someone’s not getting their emotional needs met!

We had one such moment in our house the other night. When I took a step back, a deep breath, and a minute to assess the situation, we were all spared from the drama that was unfolding in front of us. My Powerful Child was feeling a lack of control over the situation. My Proper Melancholic Child was feeling that things were not fair and that I was not understanding the concern he had with that. And My Playful Child was feeling the need to be center stage and could only secure that spot by being more noticed than the other two children that were erupting at the moment. Yes, it feel like utter chaos. And I must admit that in the moment I felt overwhelmed and frustrated, not to mention that it was unfolding in front of my mom and I was utterly mortified! My first response was to call them all three together and get the train back on the track. Within just a minute of that attempt, it was obviously not the right right approach. Things continued to escalate, rather than de-escalate!

So I decided to send them each to a different spot in the house and meet them there in their location to better address what they needed. In that way, I could individually hear them, care about them, and problem solve according to their needs. The child needing control was able to pull it together when I could give two choices of what he was able to do. That allowed him to have some control and get things back on track. The child who was hung up on fair and being understood was able to voice his perspective. I agreed with what was right and decided that in this situation there could be some grace and less discipline for his part in the situation. And my daughter that was needing to be the center of attention, once I got her to her room and she was getting my attention was able to quickly apologize, accept a hug, and agreed to her discipline.  Had we stayed in the kitchen trying to wade through all of this with a one size fits all approach, I can assure you it would have gotten messy!! Instead, after making my rounds, we were back at the table and laughing in 10 minutes! So worth the few minutes it took!

How do you know when your child’s emotional needs are not being met?

  • Increase in fits or anger
  • Appears to shut down
  • Negative attitudes flare
  • Begin to get argumentative
  • Increase in sibling rivalry
  • Flaring struggles of that personality
  • Acting out in haughty or aggressive fashion

The problem is, when the above things start happening, it can be our nature to pull back, get frustrated and withdraw from a situation or even a child because of the negative feelings that rise in us. When we feel bugged or annoyed by them, that is the first sign that something needs addressed. And the interesting thing is: they need the most when we feel the least like giving it. So stop when you feel that happen inside of you. Pause and think about the core emotional needs of your child. How can you hear what they are asking for, whether through their behavior or words. It may take some sorting! Those powerful children are power packed and very in tune with their anger. You may find yourself hurting because of some of the things they say. Pause, hold your tongue, and think. Then respond in a manner that addresses their need. Does that mean that they don’t get discipline for the disrespect or inappropriate manner in which they showed their anger. NO! That must happen too. But address the need, and they will respond to even the discipline in a whole new way.

This may sound a little complicated, but it’s not. We will break it down a little more in tomorrow’s post and talk about each personality. I will give some practical tools for you to put to good use.

It’s Like A Science Experiment… Learning Your Child’s Emotional Needs

glasses safe


One of the main reasons to learn about the personalities of our children is to have a better connection with them. Another reason to learn about their personality is to gain a deeper understanding of who they are and how to love them and train them according to what they need. When we understand what they really need, we can meet those needs and experience a deeper and more meaningful connection.

Just like each of the personalities has their own strengths and struggles, they each have their own emotional needs as well. These emotional needs are not bad. They are a natural and normal part of life and relationships.

Playful Sanguine children need a lot of attention. In fact, they would prefer to be the center of attention. These children have a great need for affection. They want hugs, to be held, to be comforted with your physical touch, whether it’s a pat on the head or a back rub. At times, they may even feel like a cat wrapped around your legs…trying to get as close as they possibly can. They want your approval, just as they are…despite the things that might not seem ideal to you. It is important for them to feel acceptance and feel like they are wanted and belong.

Powerful Choleric children need credit for what they do. They stay busy doing things and want others to notice and appreciate all they do. These kids value having control, but it goes even deeper than that. They need to have a sense of control. They need to feel the loyalty and support of those around them. Because they prefer staying busy and being in charge, they will need many opportunities to feel the sense of accomplishment.

Proper Melancholic children need others to show sensitivity for their feelings. They are very in tune with their feelings and may feel a variety of moods based on what is going on around them. They will need to feel like those around them offer understanding for where they are at and don’t try to cheer them. These children need some space to be alone and refuel. They also feel a great need for silence, room to have no other activity or noise.

Phlegmatic Children need lack of stress. They take on the stress that goes on around them and get easily exhausted. So it is necessary for them to have some peace and quiet. Because they wear out easily and are easily overwhelmed, they will need not just rest, but actual sleep to refuel and be ready to go. This personality oftentimes feels overlooked and forgotten, so they need to experience feelings of worth. They really need respect and to feel important for who they are, not what they do.

You may be able to identify where your child is quite easily. You may feel very tuned into what they need. If not, look over these descriptions and see what you child may need and not necessarily able to identify or articulate themselves. This is the best step in connecting with your child in a whole new way.

Tomorrow we will talk about what happens when these needs are not met.

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