Understanding personality types changed my parenting

Reading Quiet last year was a major turning point in my understanding of my own introverted personality. I’ve long been interested in the subject of personality types, but it was only when I felt completely off my axis that I begin to realize this information was truly useful in my daily life!

How understanding personality types helped my parenting

Every personality type has strengths and weaknesses.

When I began to understand that it’s about what I need in order to function, rather than just what I do or don’t enjoy, things began to change. I identified myself as a “sensitive” and researched ways to cope. For me, that means building in quiet times throughout my day, getting exercise and outdoor time when possible, and paying attention to my own triggers so I don’t crash and burn. For instance, I enjoy Sunday mornings at church, but by the time we get home, I am usually d-o-n-e until I’ve had quiet alone time; after an hour or so in the “introvert corner” of my bedroom or out on the porch I can happily rejoin the family.

As far as homeschool days go, I build in times of quiet. Though I’d be happy to sleep late, I’ve learned the importance of my morning routine. I force myself to get up an hour before any of the kids so that I can work out, shower, and quietly sip my tea and get in a little Bible reading before starting the day. That time alone before everyone else is up and going is crucial to my well-being.

Mid-afternoon, we have room time; I tell the kids they can choose between a nap or playing quietly in their rooms. They never choose naps, but they know this time is suppose to be as quiet as if they are napping. They’ve learned Mama needs her own room time so I can be a nicer Mama. Then at night, after the little kids are bed, Ken and Kathryn usually watch a show on Netflix while I sequester myself back in that little corner of my bedroom with a book or maybe pinning all.the.things!


Realizing what a huge impact this has had on my own life, I began researching my family’s personality types. Kathryn’s personality is similar to mine; we are the only introverts in this household. Ken is a quiet extravert; he refuels by time with people, but he has no need to be the life of the party.

Because Scout and Jem are too young to take a traditional personality test, I wasn’t sure how to determine their types until I found Nurture by Nature. This book explains the various aspects of personality so that parents can identify their child’s type, and their own. Though I’m fairly sure Jem is an extravert, I haven’t yet been able to pinpoint the other aspects of his personality so I’m observing until I can figure it out. However, I did determine Scout’s type and it has dramatically changed things for the better.

Now I “get” why Scout does the things she does.

Once I realized she’s nearly off the charts as an extravert — whereas I’m nearly off the chart as an introvert — I realized I’ve been tormenting her as much as I felt tormented by her. {I know that sounds awful, but being real here!} Now that I understand she needs to talk/move/do as much as I need peace and quiet, I am able to be more patient with her. The constant stream-of-consciousness talking is simply how she thinks. Her inability to keep her hands off other people and their belongings is not purposely disobeying as it seems, and isn’t even hyperactivity; it’s simply how in-the-moment she is.


Personality type is not an excuse to behave badly.

I can’t lash out in anger at my kids and then claim that’s not sinful because my INFJ self hasn’t had enough quiet time. However, understanding what my human side needs can help me make changes to counteract my weak areas.

Part of parenting involves teaching my children to develop their strengths and recognize their weak areas. For Scout, I need to spend time with her each day doing something interactive, let her play outside (loudly and actively) as much as possible, and schedule times to get out and about (because I’d happily stay at home most days!). I must also begin teaching her self-control, reminding her about things like looking at Jem’s latest LEGO creation with her eyes instead of her hands.

I must honor who this child was made to be, and help her develop the awesome parts of her God-given personality that is so unlike my own.

All this information and observation has me parenting the little ones so much better. Feeling more sane has me feeling far more kind. Their behavior is remarkably better, too, when I’m providing what their little extravert selves need. I’m not exaggerating to say this has dramatically changed things in our home.

>> You may also want to read my post on Parenting Your Introvert Child.

Have you spent any time learning about personality types or how they interact with each other?