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Did I Really Just Hear That? Verbal Clues to Your Child’s Personality

children talking

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 to learn more about it.


Oh, The Sights You See! Visual Clues to Your Child’s Personality

Color prints of small children's hands on whine

Each child makes his own imprint on the world!

Many people ask, “How do you know what personality your child is?” That is a great question! There are actually many clues to your child’s personality. Certain babies leave the hospital giving very strong clues as to what personality is bundled up and being snuggled. There are personalities that could be easily picked out watching body movements and actions. Some personalities can be revealed by what they are saying and how they are saying it! And some personalities can honestly be a little more tricky and an assessment and questions may reveal the very best information about the personality that makes them who they are.

So essentially there are visual, verbal, and various clues to personality. We are going to break them down and talk about some of the ways you may be able to discover the personality of your child (and yourself and others as well in the process).

If you were to stand behind a one-way mirror and watch a group of children playing, you could actually make some pretty good assessments of personality. You would be relatively accurate with what you see and how it might relate to their personality style. Of course we wouldn’t just stop there though. We would listen and learn more for the most accurate understanding and assessment. But let’s put ourselves behind that glass for a moment and imagine a classroom of children playing. A child’s playing is probably the most sincere form of expression, since there are fewer boundaries to the behaviors being exhibited. As we watch, let’s imagine what we might see.

I see a child that is expressive and trying to get others to join in some fun. She is using her mouth to call them, her gestures to motion them, and her constant movement to urge them. A little boy in the group is excitedly jumping as he awaits the fun to start. His mouth is constantly moving as well. He claps and fist pumps as he urges others to join. Across the room sits another little girl setting up seven dolls around the table. Each of her dolls also has a pet friend and they are having a party. She invites others to  join in the party. These children being observed would be the most easily identified personality. They use their body, motions, and actions in ways that cheer others on, bring others in, and spur along the fun and excitement. Their mouths are usually open as they talk, laugh, and express themselves. Their gestures are usually open and exaggerated. They are usually moving and active. These are some of the visual clues of the Playful Sanguine.

In this room, I see a little boy that is pointing and directing others to the other side of the room where he wants to play ball. He gets frustrated and stomps his foot when they are not moving. He is starting to talk more and uses his body to make a firm stand. A girl in this group is equally sure that the group should stay where they are. She approaches the first boy, stands rather close, looks right in his eyes, puts her hands firmly to her side and with the nod or her head and firm word, the group stays. The boy obviously intends to get someone to the other side of the room so he quickly and firmly grabs the two closest kids and takes his ball to play elsewhere. He doesn’t skip a beat. He walks with great confidence and never turns back. The little girl also doesn’t skip a beat. She turns and begins to instruct the others left standing. She points to the hopscotch squares on the floor and begins to line up the children who are left to take turns. These children are showing visual clues of the Powerful Choleric.

Seated at the table in the room, I see two children coloring. They have been seated for quite some time and have said very little. They are focused on the picture and are working hard to keep everything neatly in the lines. The boy has started three different pictures, and put two in the trash. There was only a small mark that didn’t belong, but he started again with a  fresh and clean page. Another child across the room is part of the ball game. She is visibly upset that something is not going right. She is getting tears in her eyes and showing the line that a fellow player had crossed. It appears that a rule is not being followed and this is causing a visible upset. At another corner of the room a child moves slowly and methodically as he lines up a very straight line of cars. They are grouped according to their color and he continues to count and move them to be perfectly aligned. These would be some of the visual clues you might see with the Proper Melancholic.

Slumped in the book corner you see a boy that’s nearly asleep. He isn’t really looking at books, but is casually watching some of the children near him. He seems oblivious to the others reading books out loud, rather, he’s kind of in his own little world. Laying on the floor near the cars is another little boy that slowly drives one car back and forth. He lays on his side and plays quietly near others, but mostly self-contained. Over in the basketball game is a little girl that slowly moves about. She is only slightly interested in the game and is rarely handling the ball, but she continues to play and told by all the others what to do and where to go. When the other child was visibly upset about the game not going right, this child put her arm around the other and slowly patted as she spoke. Near the children coloring is a little girl that is half seated and half sliding across the table. She chews  on her finger and slowly slides back and forth, doing little of nothing, but content. The visual clues of these children may be a little more settle than the other personalities, making them a little harder to identify. These would be some of the visual clues of a Peaceful Phlegmatic.

What is important to notice, is not so much the activity they are doing, but rather how they are doing it. How are they interacting with others? How do they express themselves? In what ways do they move? Imagine the way your child interacts with others. Can you see which of these groups your child might fall into if they were part of this classroom. It is important to remember that we wouldn’t just stop at judging a personality based on visual clues alone. So, stay tuned as we learn about some of the verbal  and various clues as well! Future posts will help you figure out the mystery of what personality traits your child might possess, as well as strengths and struggles they may encounter.

**For those who have a hard time waiting for information, you may be interested in learning at your own speed with The You Zoo book. Feel free to visit to find out more about the book or order your copy of The You Zoo.

Ready or Not…Here They Come! Three Simple Ideas to Keep the Good Times Rolling This Summer!

summer fun kids

Summer break is upon us! For some, this is the good news. For some it is the daunting or overwhelming truth. And for many, it can be an odd combination of the two! It can be great fun to have our children home for more time and have unique opportunities for special time spent together that the school year doesn’t allow. It can also be a time of high stress as we seek to make the most of these moments but finding a lack of time, money, or energy!

I personally get quite excited when summer break arrives. My personality thrives on relationships and time spent together, and I love to have longer days for activities with my kids. But I am also aware that for a personality that highly values peace and rest, we can be just minutes into summer break and reality hits. With nine people in our home, we are going to have times where there is chaos, frustration, and lack of anything that resembles peace or rest!! So, it helps me to go into summer with some realistic expectations of our time spent together.

I would like to suggest three simple things you can do to make your summer go more smoothly. These are practical things we do in our home to limit the stress and frustration and increase the fun and enjoyment. Feel free to use these ideas or adjust them to fit your family’s needs.

1. Create a summer to do list. 

The first thing we do when the kids get home, on the very last day of school, is to make our summer fun lists. Each child makes a list of ten things they would like or hope to do over the summer. They may list things they want to do by themselves, with someone in particular, or as a family. They may write places they want to eat, visit, or tour. They may include people they want to see or have over. The lists are kept pretty simple and straightforward. They don’t take long to make, but serve a great purpose in helping kids focus on what really matters to them. These lists have actually been a lifesaver to me as well. You see, in my mind I am always trying to think of fun (and sometimes a bit too grandiose) things we can do as a family and often times, stressing about the amount of money, time, or effort it may take to pull it off. After making these lists a couple of summers, I quickly realized that the kids were completely satisfied with less than I imagined. And that was good news! They were putting things like make cotton ball sheep (simply cotton balls on a piece of paper and drawing sheep), make brownies with mom, do breakfast club (breakfast at the donut shop in our jammies), eat at Chick-fil-a, go to a baseball game, go on a date with mom, jump on the tramp with my sister, camp with my older brothers, etc. The majority of things felt very manageable and affordable. Yet these were the very things that mattered most to them! We make sure that everyone knows we can’t promise that everything will get done, but we can at least have a list to work from. We usually get everything accomplished, but feel it is important to be reasonable and ready to accept it if we are not able. The kids have had great fun with the lists, and I have to admit…I have too! Take some time to get some focus on your summer. A game plan will keep you from tiring yourself and still missing the mark!

2. Make a simple summer schedule.

How is it that the days can seem incredibly long, yet there are times that a day flies by and you have accomplished nothing? Seems odd that you can feel both of those at the same time! But you can! We have helped our family greatly in having just a simple schedule for our days. The times are quite loosely planned, but they can at least help us to shoot for particular activities and help us avoid wasting away days with nothing but electronics. And this is where you need to think about the individual personalities of your family and what works best for you. Personally, I always think a plan sounds good, but I don’t want to be tied to something. I want to be able to have some flexibility and be able to change my mind. I have a couple kids that work best with structure and schedule. They like to know what to expect and how it will all unfold. I have others that need to feel like time can flow and not be tied to doing something they aren’t up for. Understand what your children need and then make your schedule reflect that. I have a powerful child that struggles to accept a schedule that is not his idea. So, we made an agreement that this would be our rough schedule. If there was a day he’s wanting to do electronics at another time or outside play at another time, all he has to do is ask. And we will work it out. From that point, there has been no struggle. Make your schedule as flexible or detailed as you choose. You can view a copy of our family Summer Schedule here.

3. Learn the art of understanding your child.

After doing the two things mentioned above, it may become clear to you what your child is needing. You may get a picture of what matters most to your child. Do they value time spent together or alone? Do they want simple play to unfold at home or do they see big plans out and about? Do they have specific goals in mind or are do they prefer the spontaneous? Are they relationship focused or task focused? Listen and look for the clues that will help you understand your child. If this doesn’t feel very easy, you may prefer the help of a simple resource, such as The You Zoo book. This book can help you figure out your child’s personality and give you some tips on how your personality and theirs can work better together. Consider getting some new perspectives on them as well as yourself! Visit to find out more about this practical tool to understanding your child. This interactive children’s personality assessment and parenting resource may bring a whole new level to your summer enjoyment and your relationship with your child!

These three simple ideas can be motivating. They can help you get a fresh perspective, a focused purpose, and a fun plan! These three simple ideas help you find ways to meet the individual needs of your children, since their personalities and desires can be so varied. These three simple ideas can totally change your summer! More importantly, as you learn what your child really desires, how they feel, and what makes them tick…you will transform your relationship with them!Take your summer and your relationship to a whole new level!

Stay tuned in the coming weeks to get more ideas for summer! If you would like our list of 150 Summer Fun Things to Learn and Do, visit and sign up in the top left corner for the newsletter! This list of ideas is sparking great fun and excitement in our house this year, and we would love to share it with you!

More Than Meets the Eye!

kids and colors

Let’s face it…before we had children of our own, we saw kids through a totally different set of eyes. The little boy throwing a fit at the grocery store was a little stinker that needed better discipline. That little girl that wouldn’t even take part in her own birthday party was just a rude little girl that was ungrateful. And that crying toddler that was clinging to his mother’s leg was just not well adjusted at all. Oh how quickly those judgments could fly through our minds with little or no effort! And how sure we could be that, “I will never have a child like that!” Oh how those words can sting later in life! And they are particularly hard to swallow as you find yourself attempting to quiet a fit in a grocery store checkout lane, coax a child to interact at their own party, and pulling that clingy toddler from your own leg! What we really learn as parents can be quite eye opening. And if we were to step back and admit it, we find that parenting takes a set of gracious eyes that sees more than what’s obvious in the moment. That little boy throwing the fit may be on his sixth stop in town, late to eat lunch, and two hours past his nap time. That little girl could very well be an introvert that wants to have a birthday party but quickly finds herself over stimulated and in need of some down time. And the poor little toddler that is clinging to the leg…well, he is simply afraid to see his mommy leave him when his daddy left for deployment last week. Yes, there is usually more than meets the eye!

This is why the understanding of personalities is so helpful. To simply make judgments on behaviors, we could be easily mistaken. One must stop to understand the frame of reference, the motivation behind a behavior, and even the thoughts or feelings that might proceed the action. When we take time to understand the basics of personalities, then we can better understand what is going on with our children. We can anticipate what their actions, reactions, and needs may be. We will learn to understand what really makes them tick!

So, as we prepare to learn about the different personalities, lets clear our mind of judgment. Let’s try to see each personality in their true and unique form. We will look at each personality and truly attempt to understand their frame of reference, their strengths, their struggles, and most importantly, their needs. So we will need to look beyond the simple behavior, and understand that even if we see similar behaviors, they may be for very different reasons or motivations. And just like the colors in a box of crayons, there is not one color that is better than another or worse than another. They each serve their own purpose, add their own touch, and bring some piece of the picture all together!

As we look at the personalities of children we will look at four different personality types. There is the Playful Sanguine, the Powerful Choleric, the Proper Melancholic, and the Peaceful Phlegmatic. You will see the link for the graphic of the quadrant below. This graphic may be helpful as you envision the personalities as we learn about them. Children are typically a combination of two adjoining boxes. As we progress through our discussion of personalities, you will probably be able to identify which of the personality blends your child might be. You will probably also be able to identify where you might fall on the quadrant. Each of the next few posts will take you a step further in the process of truly understanding your child better.

This information is from the book, The You Zoo. Feel free to visit if you are interested in learning more about the personalities from this book. It is an interactive personality assessment and parenting resource that you will find invaluable in parenting your child according to their natural bent. This blog is intended to be another source of education, encouragement, and a practical tool to equip you as you parent your children according to their personalities!

Click on this link to see The You Zoo Simple Quadrant.

Learning about the personalities and your child specifically can be an exciting adventure! Join us as we begin to put the pieces together!

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