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.
- 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!