Alicia Kelvin, MBTIonline Contributing Writer
A child’s personality and behavior are affected by their upbringing and environment. But everyone’s also born with their own unique personalities and characteristics. Because of this, it’s helpful to be aware not only of their personality (once you can start recognizing behavior patterns), but yours as well since every personality type has its own parenting style. One way to find out more about your parenting style is by taking the Myers–Briggs Type Indicator personality assessment. With this, you’ll become more aware of your own strengths, challenges, and motivators - all of which can help you to become a better parent.
After all, as as Maryville University’s piece on the nature vs. nurture debate points out, parents play a vital role in encouraging the best attributes and behaviors in their children, as well as discouraging harmful ones.
While hereditary factors contribute to a child’s unique personality, realizing that your child is their own person can help you positively shape their experience (rather than trying to change them). Below are a few ways knowing your Myers–Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) will make you a better parent:
You’ll understand your child more
Every personality type has a parenting style, or at least shared tendencies. People with the personality type INTJ (Introversion, Intuition, Thinking, and Judging), for instance, are often described as perfectionists who typically aim to raise independent and intelligent children. However, this aim for precision may sometimes result in difficulty showing affection to their child. In addition, those with INTJ preferences might also have a hard time being sensitive to their child’s feelings, especially if that child has a preference for Feeling.
MBTI awareness can help you to better understand your child’s characteristics, too. VeryWell Family’s article on adapting your parenting style suggests practicing empathy and learning to appreciate who (the child) is. By understanding your own MBTI personality preferences and learning about the opposite MBTI preferences, you’ll be better able to identify and understand how your child may be similar or different from you.
But rather than just letting your child get away with anything to avoid conflict, this means learning how to view things from their perspective so you can come up with solutions and compromises.
For instance, if you have a high-energy child (perhaps they prefer Extraversion and get lots of energy from socializing), you should understand that if you try to keep them idle for too long (perhaps you prefer Introversion and use that quiet time to re-energize yourself), they’ll end up creating their own stimulation. Give them lots of opportunities to be active within safe environments, while understanding that how they get their energy is going to be different (and opposite) to how you’re energized.
You learn to maintain healthy boundaries between your own needs and your child’s needs
it can be a challenge to separate your needs and wants from your child’s, especially if you have different personalities. Sometimes, you may let your child’s needs vastly overtake your own. This is why it’s important to recognize your own needs and your child’s needs separately.
For example, Medium’s feature on self-care for different MBTI types lists activities every personality type can do to relax. Those with ESFP preferences (Extraversion, Sensing, Feeling, Perceiving) are often called “the life of the party”, and often enjoy social, sensory activities like grabbing food with friends or getting together with other parents for a playdate at the park.
But if you have a child that you think might prefer Introversion, they’re typically quieter and don’t tend to speak up. Because of this, their needs may be easy to miss when you yourself are socially driven. Spend one-on-one time with them and reassure them that they’re still a priority in your life, and assure them that even though some people are more outgoing and more social, there’s nothing wrong with being the opposite and enjoying quiet time and time alone.
You can connect with other parents, and understand them better
This doesn’t mean you should go around asking for MBTI types during your child’s school events. But knowing your personality type can help you to better understand, and befriend, other parents. Parenting can be easier when you connect with someone who understands the ups and downs of raising a child. No matter whether the other parent’s personality type is similar or different from yours, take the time to notice similarities and differences. See what you can learn from how they parent.
If you’re a parent that prefers INFP (introversion, intuition, feeling, perceiving), you may be the type to give your child the freedom to explore and grow so they can gain their sense of understanding. However, you may also experience a lot of self-doubt when it comes to parenting — wondering if you can find effective ways to establish practical rules and a good daily structure for your child. Interacting with other parents, including those who prefer INFP and those who don’t, can give you ideas on what may and may not work.
Parents who prefer Introversion may be more likely to appreciate a quiet meet up (versus a multi-parent play date) or even be open to a babysitting exchange so each of you can get some quiet time to recharge.
Overall, MBTI types can be a useful guide for parents who want to become better in relating to their children. That being said, every child will have their own great personality and unique quirks — which keeps parenting exciting. It’s important to spend a lot of time interacting with your kids, to fully learn about their personalities and find a parenting style that works for everyone.