One might imagine the noise and chatter among nine humans in a home such as ours! And while I wish I could claim that we have all our ducks in a row and are perfectly mannered and organized, truth is, we have our tidal waves of chaos, noise, and stress. At times, I think we need a whistle (okay, maybe a secluded island) just to reclaim some quiet air time! One such predictable wave appears to happen at meal time. You can always count on a side of whacky chatter, served alongside a healthy helping of boy noise (yes, there’s six of them), all amidst the stirred pot of drama by the lone drama queen (yes, we have just one lone girl in the bunch). Yes, there is also the usual table conversation that several are attempting to have, and despite my efforts at proclaiming the table a “clap-free, chant-free, drama-free, banging-free zone”…we still end up sounding like a bad rap song at times! I remind myself often that around that very table we are making memories, connecting, and learning (hopefully those desired manners). The things said around that table are very important. They give us a window into the hearts of our kids, a glimpse into the hours spent apart, a piece of what they are holding dear or dreadfully hoping to forget, as they recount the experiences of their day. Maybe the learning that happens around that table far exceeds manners, but really teaches me about the thoughts, feelings, and needs of my children. Opening my ears and mind to what I hear there might really help me understand what makes each child tick!
Truth be known, though, there are things being said throughout the course of a day that serve as great verbal clues to a child’s personality. Some of these things are being said as they tell stories and retell experiences. Other things are being said as they are asked questions and carry on conversations. But honestly, some of the best verbal clues are happening spontaneously, in response to what is happening around them. Some of these responses happen between adult and child, some between children, and for some personalities…even to themselves!
So lets’ imagine for a moment that we get some uninterrupted time to just listen to each of the personalities. Let’s focus on some of the clues that each of them might give throughout the course of a day. Now remember, it’s not so much about the exact words. Every personality could say the words if need be. We are thinking about the words or phrases that tend to come without hesitations, by habit, and with intention to communicate their needs.
A Playful Sanguine child engages others from an early age. They are usually early talkers. This child generally greats each day with excitement and wants to be busy with fun all day long. “Are we going anywhere? What are we gonna do today?” They will want to know who they get to see or what they get to do and will be expressive and dramatic as they put it all together. “Do you know what my mom did?” And then you cringe, hang on, and prepare to run and hide! This child will tell everything and then some. “That’s not the end of my story!” They bring a whole new meaning to the term TMI or too much information. Because they love to tell stories, they have a hard time stopping those stories, and can be found in the midst of a big fat lie with no effort at all! “Yes, it really did happen!” They will want to engage with others, even if they are perfect strangers, and can notify them of all your personal information in about 3 seconds flat! They aren’t much for the mundane and will remember the fun times, so prepare to attempt to relive their fun moments just to make a mundane task bearable. “Can we make this fun, like that time when…” And truly, that word will be central to their functioning and communicating…FUN! Because they have a flair for the dramatic, prepare to hear words that represent the extremes…the words All, none, never, always which may be delivered with tears or deep expression.
A Powerful Choleric child has his communication packaged for great effectiveness at a very early age. They may have been loud and deliberate criers. Early on they learn to point to help get the message heard. They never struggle to say, “No!” Even when an adult asks them to do something, they won’t think twice before they say, “I don’t want to!” When asked questions about their preferences or opinions, they will not hesitate to give their honest thoughts, “No, I don’t like it.” They see little need to get help from others, and working with others will generally frustrate them, so you will often hear them say, “I can do it myself!” Most generally, they like their plan best. So don’t be surprised if other plans are met with, “That won’t work!” or “That’s dumb!” Being direct and to the point may distract this child from the using the polite words of please and thank you and instead they may declare, “ I want…” This child may appear to speak with one volume, LOUD and confident.
A Proper Melancholic won’t give as many verbal clues, but that in itself is a clue. They are private and tend to keep their words and thoughts to themselves, sharing on a need to know basis. Because they think carefully about their words, they often preface things with, “I think…”. They like when things work perfectly, and may get very upset when they don’t. “It doesn’t work,” might really mean, it’s not perfect. Because justice is of high importance to them, they will often declare, “It’s not fair!” They have great memory for how things have gone in the past and won’t want you to forget, “Last time they got to…” Because they want things to turn out perfectly, you may hear, “Can you help me..” a lot. This child may appear moody or upset, but does not want to be cheered. Instead they will probably just say, “I want to be alone.” They may not speak their minds, but will desire for you to just know what they need. If asked what’s wrong, they will probably respond, “Nothing,” but they may really be wishing you would care enough to figure it out. Their voices tend to be quieter, making them often sound shy or even sad.
A Peaceful Phlegmatic may be slightly harder to hear, as they don’t speak up very often. But when they speak it will usually be meaningful. These are typically very observant children but will probably not say much about what they see unless you ask. Should you ask for an answer, though, you may hear, “I don’t know.” They are indecisive and don’t ever want their answer to cause any problems or hurt feelings. But don’t stop there. They may have an impressive insight. When asked to get something done, their first response is usually, “I can’t.” or “I don’t know how.” When trying to complete tasks you just might hear how easily they become over whelmed. “It’s too much!” or “It’s too hard!” follows even simple requests. They require a great amount of down time and rest, so you may hear them say, “I’m too tired” quite often! They have no problem asking, “Can you help me?” They are very in tune to those around them and care about their comfort. So words like “Are you okay?” or “What’s the matter” flow easily from them as they observe others. They generally use their calm words and tone to be an agent for peace and reassurance.
As you listen to your children, you may be surprised at the clues they give you to understanding their personality and what makes them tick! It is helpful to slow down and understand not just the words but the meaning behind them. When we understand where our kids are coming from, we can better help them get where they are going! Take time to connect and know them as they are, and they will feel loved in a whole new way!
*** For more information on understanding your child and his/her unique personality, check out this refreshing and practical parenting tool. The You Zoo book is an interactive children’s personality assessment that serves as a great parenting resource with loads of useful information and tips packed inside. Visit TheYouZoo.com to learn more about it.