You’ve probably heard of the Myers-Briggs personality test, and it’s possible you’ve even taken it. But have you had your kids take it? Have you considered that it could help you in your homeschool – or even just your home in general?
Personality types are about far more than just whether you’re a happy or sad person, whether you work hard or slack off, or if you’re an introvert or an extrovert. It can help you see what stresses you out and what motivates you, and help you figure out what kinds of things are important to you. And even when your kids are fairly young, it’s safe to assume that they already have their own distinct personalities. Knowing what those personalities are can be a huge help to you.
There are older tests that assign you to one of five temperaments. But the most common personality test these days, is the Myers-Brigg. According to the Myers-Brigg personality test, there are 16 different personality types. These 16 types can lead to some very different interactions with people. Once you learn your children’s personality types, you may discover that a huge problem you’ve had can be resolved by simply tweaking the way you talk to them, instruct them, or work with them – tweaking it to work with their personality, rather than doing what you’ve always been doing.
For example, when we did ours, I discovered that while my personality is big on planning, details and sticking to the familiar (which is somewhat true, but also somewhat not, I think), both of my kids are more spontaneous and non-structured, and preferring a lot of variety. At first, this seems like a big challenge – how can I plan and stick to the familiar and still give them what seems like variety and no structure?
But a little thought has already given me the answer: I plan, and just don’t tell them the plan. I did notice that once I got a lesson planner for myself and a daily planner for both of them, I did feel like things went smoother for me, but their daily planners were constantly misplaced, they wouldn’t read them, and it seemed to make them feel overwhelmed, even though there was no more work than there had been before. So what we might try this fall is I’ll make my plan, but not lay it out for them. I’ll also use the summer to look for ways to incorporate even more variety, and figure out how to weave that in with my need to have familiarity. It may not be easy, but if it helps my children stay more interested, more focused, and makes them feel better, then it’s worth trying.
What I found most interesting, though, was that while I’m an introverted person, one of my kids is the complete opposite and loves being the center of attention – and it’s not the child I expected to see that for! As it turns out, the child I thought would be the center of attention is more introverted like me – so go figure! I would be tempted to think the test was wrong, except that most of the rest of their results were pretty spot-on with what I’ve seen in them myself.
These little unexpected insights, however, have been hugely helpful. They’ve allowed me to see a potentially unmet need in my children, so that I can attempt to find a way to meet it. It also allows me to see where some of our conflicts may come from – of course my child wants to go out and see people and do things more often than I do, since he’s an extrovert and I’m an introvert. Now that I realize that, it makes it easier to do two things:
- Understand why he wants to go out more often, and attempt to accommodate that when I can, without totally draining myself.
- Handle it when I can’t meet that desire. There’s been many a time that we’ve had a major argument when he wanted to go do something and I said no. Often it’s due to his attitude toward my saying no, but sometimes I get frustrated and it’s my fault that we argue. But now that I know this about both of us, I can try to handle it better when I have to say no – I can try to offer alternatives, not to mention that now that he understands my personality better (we all shared our results with each other), maybe he will be more understanding of why I have to say no sometimes.
I won’t lie to you and say that taking a personality test and understanding the different personalities in your house will solve all your problems, but I do think it’s worth doing. You’ll get a better understanding of yourself, of your children, of everyone’s areas of strength and weakness, and how you can use those things to create a more peaceful, harmonious environment (even if you already have a peaceful, harmonious environment!).
We took the test here. You can read about all 16 personality types here, and if you take the test, they will email you your results so you can read about just the ones that apply in your household, if you’d rather.
Note: You’ll notice that one of the related articles I linked to is about why you shouldn’t trust this test. I included this article because while I think this can be a useful tool for you to try, it should not be something you use to the exclusion of anything else. I also don’t think you should ignore the real life knowledge you have of your children and their personalities. If something in their result just really doesn’t fit what you know about them, you should go with what you know to be true about them rather than assuming this test knows them better than you do. Think of this as a fun little game that can help you learn something new about yourself and your children, but don’t use it to completely uproot your lives.