Parenting by Personality
You probably know your child’s height and weight.
You may even know his blood type or IQ.
But you may not know the one factor that could help you and your child avoid frazzled nerves, hurt feelings and tense confrontations: his personality style.
A Tough Lesson
Susan Crook wishes she had known that when her son, Scott, was born.
“From the very beginning, he wanted to control everything from his crib,” says Crook, a Kansas City-area mom to one teen and two adult children.
It wasn’t until Scott was in Jr. High and Crook was taking graduate classes that she began to study personalities. And that’s when the light came on. Her son wasn’t just strong willed with high energy; he was a high “type-D” personality. That’s according to D-I-S-C, which Crook champions as the best tool for discerning and understanding personality styles.
“So often we want to handle everything the same for every child; we want to be fair,” says Crook, whose two daughters have the more reserved and orderly “C” personalities. “But people are not all the same, and if we know their personality type, then we can work with that rather than against it and save a lot of frustration.”
Crook, now a national speaker and certified human behavior consultant, is author of the award-winning book Personality Insights for Moms!, which teaches parents how to discipline and motivate according to their children’s personality styles. The book also encourages parents to learn their own personality type so they can understand the role it plays in interactions with their children.
D-I-S-Covering the Answer
Juli Bell was at the Kansas City Zoo six years ago when she realized her oldest daughter’s personality style.
When the Olathe mom offered snacks to the group—which included her four children, Crook and Crook’s youngest daughter —Bell’s daughter called for and opened the first package before anyone else could react. It was a like a conquest for her. Then, when the next box appeared, she wanted to trade.
Bell remembers this: “Susan immediately said, ‘That is such a “D.” They jump right in not knowing what they really want. They don’t always scope out the situation and just want to get it done.’”
Since then, Bell has worked to slow down her 14-year-old daughter and give her options.
“In that same situation, I would now say, ‘I have a couple of snacks and you might want to look before you decide,’” Bell says.
In contrast, Bell’s 9-year-old daughter has an “S” personality and is more concerned that the other children get the snacks they want and are happy, even if she gets the last one and it’s not what she likes.
Although Bell sees a mix of all the personality styles in each child—her 12-year-old son is a correct “C” and her 7-year-old son is a gregarious “I”—she appreciates that they are different and have different needs.
And Bell finds that Crook’s tools not only are useful at home but also in the kindergarten class she teaches.
An Ah-Ha Moment
Darcy Ringgenberg recently heard Crook speak about personality styles at her church. And although Ringgenberg has just started reading about D-I-S-C, Crook’s talk clarified an issue that has weighed heavily on the Overland Park mom.
“My girls have always had difficulty getting along, and when learning about the D-I-S-C styles, it totally makes sense,” says Ringgenberg of her 16- and 22-year-old daughters. “I’ve always struggled with this, and at least now I have a better understanding instead of only beating myself up.”
The Personality Payoff
Besides helping avoid conflicts and promoting communication, knowing your child’s personality type also can help you realize the best way to convey love and support to him.
And speaking of loved and supported children, you may be wondering what happened to Crook’s driven, high-energy, determined son. He grew up to be a savvy and successful businessman, co-owning 21 rental homes by his early 20s. His company was ranked No. 129 on Inc. Magazine’s list of the 500 fastest-growing private companies in the United States. And his network of businesses still is booming today. The bonus: He married a sweet, supportive woman with an “S” personality.
So take it from Crook, personalities don’t determine who is a good parent, but knowing how they operate sure can make good parenting easier.
Melinda Ablard Smith is wife to one amazing man, mother to two great kiddos and owner to three Chihuahuas with personality to spare. She lives in Olathe and teaches journalism at MidAmerica Nazarene University.