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speed bumps

This tends to be a common theme for the Playful Sanguine. While this theme occurs in both child and adult Sanguines, we are going to look at this theme in the adult or parent.

A Playful Sanguine is often uttering those words. While other personalities may be mortified at the thought of admitting that they forgot something, Playful Sanguines don’t really mind. They are so used to it, that it rolls quite easily from their tongue. The following are some other things that tend to be part of their self-talk process.

“I can always have others help me.”

“I can’t remember how I’m supposed to do it.”

“I seriously forgot!”

“I didn’t know I was supposed to do that.”

“I didn’t want to do it. It was boring.”

“It’s not fun.”

“I started it but never finished it.”

Playful Sanguines don’t have much trouble admitting their wrongs. They may laugh it off and act as thought it doesn’t really phase them or even matter. But these very themes can cause some problems in everyday relationships and even in parenting.

How might this play out in a Playful Sanguine Parent? You might see the following:

  • Caught up in moment and lose focus on what needs done.
  • Dismiss undesirable tasks as a parent because they aren’t fun.
  • Distracted easily and forgets to follow through.
  • Play and have fun but can too easily forget role as parent.
  • Provide poor example of appropriate behavior, if they can get a laugh.
  • Competes for center stage and may not take parental role seriously.
  • Swayed from effective discipline by child’s charm or tears.
  • Claims to forget or not understand to avoid responsibility.
  • Appears to be a softy or oblivious, without boundaries.

How can a Playful Sanguine address the self-talk that flutters through their head and causes them to be less effective in life or as a parent?

  • Stop and get some focus. Make yourself slow down, focus and really thing about what’s going on, instead of just going by the seat of your pants all the time.
  • Identify a couple ways you can become more responsible to the tasks at hand. Note not just the thing that needs to happen but the steps it may take to get it to happen.
  • Establish your role as parent and how you might need to take that role more seriously. It is good to have fun with your kids, but it is equally important that they feel your strength as a parent and that you can handle the job.
  • Take the initiative to know what needs done, see it through, and follow through with consequences if need be. No more claiming, “I didn’t know. I forgot. Or I wasn’t sure.”

This post focuses on the inner self-talk of the Playful Sanguine and the downfalls they may experience as a parent. These may not fit your personality. And that’s okay. You might be one of the other personalities. The next two days we will address the other personalities.


children talking

This tends to be a common self-talk theme for many Peaceful Phlegmatics! While both parent and child Phlegmatics may struggle with this, we will focus more on the parent aspect today.

I am faced with this challenging thinking every day. I admit it. It is true. I also experience some other thoughts along those lines, like:

“I am not sure I have the energy for that.”

“I am not sure I am capable to do that.”

“Somebody else could do it better.”

“I think I’d better take a nap.”

“I’m just too overwhelmed.”

“I’m not the right person for the job.”

“I better not commit to that. I am not sure I can see it through.”


While we may laugh those off, and in our laid back approach just honestly admit that’s how we think, those inner messages can really affect us in life and how we parent.

I am feeling this struggle as I participate in a 30 blogging challenge. Each day I have to talk myself through the excuses. And truly, I exhaust myself. Sometimes I just want that “get ‘er done” attitude! I expressed my frustration with myself yesterday in the face book group and received some wonderful encouragement from other writers. One kind man even broke down how many posts per minute left in the challenge and made it all sound more manageable. It was like hearing a little cheering squad going behind me. He even offered to follow up and read my blog the following day. There’s some healthy accountability with that encouragement! And that is what motivates a phlegmatic. They want to feel like others can respect their struggle and give them a little oomph with their energy to carry on!

How does this self-talk play out in parenting as a Phlegmatic? They may experience the following:

  • Dismiss things that need corrected because it is easier.
  • Struggle to have follow-through on consequences given.
  • Extend grace or patience when things need to be confronted.
  • Sit on the sidelines and wait for someone else to intervene or take over.
  • Become immobilized when things feel too overwhelming.
  • Doubt their ability to parent well.
  • Withdraw when they face resistance.
  • Offer excuses for behavior to avoid dealing with it.
  • Assume role as friend instead of disciplinarian to be liked by kids.


How does one reverse this kind of talk that rolls through your head and makes you less than effective?

  • Ask for another perspective. Much like I did when I asked the group to give some ideas for what they were doing to push through the challenge and avoid excuses.
  • Push yourself beyond what you are used to. Don’t stop where it’s comfortable or easy. Push beyond. Each time your push point gets moved further!
  • Commit to growing in the area you choose. Sometimes we feel the struggle, other times, we just know our tendencies. Regardless, you know where your weaknesses are. And while a little push can help you out of those crunch times, it may not be enough to really change a habit. Commit to really growing beyond what you do naturally.
  • Look for ways that you can be held accountable. Ask a friend, spouse, or someone else to ask you about your progress. Just like my kind writing friend offering to check in on my blog spurred me to push forward, you can find ways to be held accountable too.

This post may reflect the inner workings of the Phlegmatic and some of their faulty thinking, but every personality has faulty thinking. What is yours? What might keep you from doing what needs done? What might keep you from effective parenting?

  • Do you get easily distracted? Is the task not fun? Do you forget what you’re doing? Do you struggle to finish things you start?
  • Do you get over committed and spread thin? Do you run out of day before tasks? Do you find that you’d rather do it yourself instead of working together? Are you just not in the control of the task you are assigned?
  • Do you get stuck on perfectionism? Do you hesitate to start? Do you feel a fear or dread that keeps you from being productive? Are you too stuck on the details to get moving?

These are some of the other personality struggles. Maybe you can identify one of the above that speaks more to who you are. Challenge yourself today to ask the tough questions and see what you can learn about yourself. Then…push beyond where you are comfortable. Grow!

And as a side note, to the kind writer friend that gave me such a good pep talk…Thank you!! Thank you for giving me that added reason to write. Your encouraging words and accountability were just what I needed to get over the hump!



Question:  I have a child that is somewhere along the top of the chart, but I can’t decide which one (Playful Sanguine and Powerful Choleric). I only know that their emotions are more than I can handle! What do I do?

Hang on!! That’s my first advice! But truly, this is a real concern of many parents that speak to me after a presentation. They feel overwhelmed with the emotion that this child expels and feel inadequate at knowing how to handle it. I can’t help but share my own personal joke.

Can you imagine for a minute what three extroverts, a 10 year old girl, 5 year old boy, and 43 year old dad have in common with a volcano? Easy, they all erupt!

Personalities along the top of the personality quadrant chart (Playful Sanguine and Powerful Choleric) are extroverts. So everything they think, feel, and want is pretty much out there for all to see. They are in touch with their emotions, express them easily, and don’t hold back. This makes total sense to those who are also extrovert, but what might be hard for them to imagine is that not everyone is like that. Those on the bottom of the chart (Proper Melancholic and Peaceful Phlegmatic) are introverts and tend to hold things in. They tend to evaluate their thoughts and feelings, modify them, and decide what if any is appropriate to share.

The Playful Sanguine is prone to drama. They feel things very deeply. Their emotions can go from 0 to 60 in two seconds flat. They may be very upset, and with just a small change will be extremely happy again. Those emotional highs and lows can be hard for a family to experience.

The Powerful Choleric is prone to anger. They are more in touch with that emotion than any other. They can go from super angry to moving on rather quickly. They let off some steam and decide they feel better. The problem is that those around them may still be recovering from the hit and run effect.

What can you do if you see your child exhibiting the drama that exhausts your family?

  1. Don’t give up on the training. You may feel like you say the same thing over and over, but don’t give up. It is a message they need to hear.
  2. Give them a good example. Kids learn by example. Often times there is a parent in the home that is exhibiting the same lack of control in emotions. Work hard as parents to be a positive example.
  3. Practice makes perfect. Okay, so maybe perfect is a little too high of expectation, but don’t underestimate the power in practicing. Role play situations before they happen. Rehearse how things might be felt and expressed in ways that people can understand and will want to listen.
  4. Do-over or discipline. Give your child a chance to correct what needs to be corrected when they speak or act too quickly out of emotion, or what I refer to as a do-over. Correcting on their own gives them the practice in self control. If you have to intervene or coax them into re-doing the wrong, discipline may be appropriate.
  5. Work to understand their emotional needs. Often, the drama rises when the emotional needs of these kids are not being addressed. So go back to the basics and look at their emotional needs.

Remember that these top two personalities need to be noticed and given credit. They also want some excitement and control. If you can keep a pulse on how those needs are being met, you might be one step closer to diffusing the eruptions of emotion that are tiring your family.

personality chart2

Question:  I have two kids that are both organized but are otherwise very different. What does that mean, or how can I figure them out? Are they both the same personality?

Sometimes, there are traits that might be seen in different personalities. Being a leader and being organized are two that are quite common. So people may see organization and automatically assume that a child is a Proper Melancholic. But the truth is, other personalities can be organized in other ways or for other reasons. A Powerful Choleric can organize people and tasks. A Peaceful Phlegmatic may take time to organize something that makes life easier with just a little order and no effort, like a spice rack. A Playful Sanguine can organize fun things or otherwise simple things such as fun outings. But a Proper Melancholic organizes things on a regular basis because that is how they function best. They use systems and organized means to getting things done regularly.

Being a leader is another trait that can cause some confusion. A Playful Sanguine may be the leader of the pack as a group heads out for a fun activity. The Proper Melancholic may take the lead to getting details in order and making sure that things are done fairly. A Peaceful Phlegmatic may lead a group in order to help things go smoothly and in the absence of another who wants to lead. But the Powerful Choleric is a natural born leader. They function best and most comfortably in this role.

These are just two of the traits that one might notice. Why is this important? It’s important, because seeing that personalities may have some similarities but actually be very different is key. One must look beyond just the trait or action and look to see the motivation. The reason someone does something is often times more telling than what they are doing. This concept closely relates to the mottos (or default settings, as a previous blog explained) that different personalities have. Is the motivation to:

  • Have some excitement? Do it the fun way? (Playful Sanguine)
  • Have some control? Do it their way? (Powerful Choleric)
  • Have some order? Do it the right way? (Proper Melancholic)
  • Have some rest? Do it the easy way? (Peaceful Phlegmatic)

If you can figure out why someone is doing that particular trait or action, than you can see which personality it relates to. Then these similarities can be more easily understood.

You will quickly see the personalities at work all around you. Whether you are watching your child, your spouse, your friend, or even just the clerk at the grocery store—you will see personalities all around you! You will be able to pick up on clues that tell you what personality someone might be. It will be fascinating to start seeing all the pieces fit together. Don’t forget to look deeper than just the trait you first notice. You will be amazed at how this insight can truly transform the way you see others and the way you relate as well!

personality chart2

You may be new to all this talk about the personalities. Or maybe you are quite experienced with what the study of personalities is all about. Either way, I’d like to share with you a great resource for parents and families as they learn to put the knowledge of personalities to good use.

I learned about the personalities back in junior high. I found it fascinating, since it helped me understand myself in a whole new way. When I started dating, it was interesting to see personalities play out in relationships. Then of course, as a mother, I was glad to have the backdrop of personalities in order to understand the things I would encounter in raising my kids. This desire for relating better and understanding others at a whole different level, fueled by my passion to help and educate others stirred me to start designing a practical parenting tool. I wanted other parents to be able to have a framework of their child and an effective way to relate and love them according to their unique traits and needs.

A colleague of mine, and co-author of this book, worked with me to bring this idea to life. The You Zoo is both a children’s personality assessment and a parenting resource. The children’s assessment is a children’s story that follows four monkeys through a day in their life at the zoo. Each monkey is a different personality.

  • Sunny is the Playful Sanguine personality. This personality is the noise maker.
  • Champ is the Powerful Choleric personality. This personality is the plan maker.
  • Max is the Proper Melancholic personality. This personality is the rule maker.
  • Pal is the Peaceful Phlegmatic. This personality is the peace maker.

The monkeys in the story are all different, and so are their actions and choices. When reading the story, children are asked to decide which monkey they are most like. Through child-adult interaction, the assessment is completed to give a picture of what the child would choose or do. Their choices and preferences give an indicator of their personality.

you zoo cover from website

This book also includes a parent observation assessment. Using this tool, a parent makes choices that indicate another perspective of the child’s personality. Together, the child assessment and parent observation assessment can cast an accurate picture of which personality that child may be. There is also a short parent personality assessment. When all of these pieces are put together, a parent can get a clear picture of their child as well as who they (as a parent) might be. The book has sections on each personality that discuss personality strengths, struggles, and needs. Pages of practical tips for each of the personalities will help parents see how they can be more effective in dealing with the child. There is some discussion on the combination of different parent and child personalities and what might work well and what might be a challenge.

Parents and teachers have given great feedback on how this book has helped them make more meaningful connections. If you know that “one size fits all” is not true in dealing with children, this book is for you! If you want to become more effective as a parent or teacher, connect at a deeper level, and help grow your child in their strengths, than you will want to experience this book.

For more information about The You Zoo, please visit If you have questions or comments, I would love to hear from you. Please email me at

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!


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.

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