Did you ever feel misunderstood as a kid? Like once, or maybe constantly, people just didn’t “get you”? Unless you’re raised in a family of people who are very similar to you (and even that can create some issues) you’re likely to be misunderstood at one point or another, or often. Everyone feels misunderstood in a different way, and a lot of that can stem from your personality type and clashes with other personalities.
I’ve written this post in hopes that it can help families and friends to better understand each other and the unique struggles that each person faces, particularly in childhood. This post is reeeaally long so you can just scroll down to find your type or the type of someone you want to know more about.
We’re going to start with the most common MBTI® Group…
The Guardians – SJ Types
The ESTJ Child
The ESTJ child is one of the most responsible, goal-oriented types around. No matter what birth placement they have, they are often ready and willing to keep the other kids in line and get things done. They love order and structure, and are highly logical and fair-minded. They are practical children, who love to stay active and enjoy the company of others.
The unique childhood struggles of the ESTJ:
ESTJ children long for a life filled with friends and familiarity. They are very active and people-oriented and will find being cooped up at home excruciating when they’d rather be with friends. ESTJ children crave structure and order in their lives; they want their parents to be “the parent”. They will get frustrated if one parent is strict and one is lenient, because they want things to be consistent.
One problem that can plague ESTJ children is that they aren’t naturally tactful or empathetic. They care very much about people, but can unintentionally hurt other children’s feelings with their lack of tact. Parents can help young ESTJs by modeling empathy, and rephrasing insensitive comments to their children.
ESTJ children long for approval, and they are often very helpful in hopes of gaining approval. If parents don’t notice the ESTJs efforts, the child can become very depressed and feel worthless. An ESTJs sense of worth as a child comes largely from the approval of their parents and teachers.
ESTJs don’t like unexpected changes in plans or interruptions. New experiences can also be frightening for them. They like a consistent routine and to be surrounded by the familiar. Frequent moves, crises, or life changes can be very traumatic to young ESTJs who like to know what to expect and what lies ahead.
The ISTJ Child
ISTJ children are often quiet and serious, but have a vast aptitude for intelligence. These highly responsible children are realistic, down-to-earth, and knowledgeable. They crave peace and quiet, but will often enjoy the company of one or two close friends. ISTJs are often very mature for their age, and usually do very well in school.
The unique childhood struggles of the ISTJ:
ISTJ children like to know what to expect and when. They get very frustrated by unexpected changes, interruptions, or new environments they aren’t prepared for. When pushed into a new situation or environment, they can feel out of control and frightened. Likewise, jumping from one activity to another can be very stressful for them. They want a “heads up” about what’s coming, so they can shift their focus and energy. They concentrate so completely on each task that being asked to all the sudden move onto something else, or to be interrupted, is very upsetting.
Like the ESTJ, the ISTJ can unintentionally hurt other children’s feelings because they don’t have a natural sense of empathy or tact. If one of their close relationships is in turmoil because of something they said, this can cause them a lot of stress. Parent should try to model empathy and tactfulness for their ISTJ child; and rephrase insensitive comments back to them.
ISTJs crave a straightforward, consistent parent. A parent who is wishy-washy or a family where one parent is strict and one is lenient will be frustrating for them. They want rules and guidelines to be clear and logical, and they want their parents to be “the parent”. They want clear, explicit directions, and they want to know their parents mean what they say.
ISTJ children need a lot of time alone, and hate to be pushed into social situations or constant time with others (even if it’s family). They want time alone; and often enjoy reading books, encyclopedias, and playing games. They’re very responsible children, so if you’re parenting one, try to reward them with increasing amounts of personal control as they get older. Show them that you appreciate their responsibility by rewarding it with trust. ISTJ children greatly want to be trusted.
The ESFJ Child
ESFJ children pair an aptitude for caring and sensitivity with a practical and realistic mindset. They long for love and appreciation; and like all SJ children, they crave structure, consistency, and familiarity. They adore their families and are very connected to their parents. ESFJ children are very affectionate and easily make friends and connections with others.
The unique childhood struggles of the ESFJ:
ESFJ children have a strong need for activity and socialization. They crave companionship and outlets for their energy, and if they’re paired with introverted parents they can often feel stifled or pushed aside. They also completely hate conflict, and it can cause them a huge amount of stress. They are extremely sensitive and can easily feel left out or rejected. If parents aren’t very affectionate towards them or demonstrative of their love, ESFJ children’s self-esteem can suffer greatly.
ESFJ children are natural worriers, and can often get stuck worrying about tragic events that could befall their friends or family members. Parents would be wise to reassure their children regularly of their love and that everything will be okay. ESFJs want to know that their parents “have their back” and will be there for them no matter what. These kids can’t get enough hugs and cuddles and affirmation. They thrive on this.
Discipline can be a stressful thing for an ESFJ child; loud, angry or sharp voices are extremely unsettling for them. They’re often quick to apologize, taking the blame even if they don’t understand what they did wrong. They just want to bring everything back to a harmonious level.
Like all SJ children, the unfamiliar is a scary place for ESFJs. If you’re parenting an ESFJ, try to preview new experiences for them, and relate things to familiar, past experiences. They also crave consistency, so be sure to follow through on your commitments and mean what you say. Wishy-washy parents are very frustrating to SJ children.
The ISFJ Child
ISFJ children are extremely loving, gentle and considerate. These quiet, thoughtful types long for close, nurturing relationships and a life that is secure and stable. These children long to be of service to others, and get a great deal of satisfaction from caring for others. They are very responsible and seek a harmonious life with their friends and family.
The unique childhood struggles of the ISFJ:
ISFJ children are very sensitive and gentle, and will find conflict-ridden environments extremely stressful. Confrontation of any kind is unsettling to them, and if they receive harsh discipline or shouting from a parent they can become highly distraught. They need things to be patiently and gently explained to them, and they need time to absorb the information.
ISFJs are often very shy around strangers, and this can be misinterpreted as disinterest or stiffness. They long for a few close friends, but can struggle with opening up to people or being confident enough to engage with others. This can leave them very lonely if their need for affirmation and friendship isn’t met. A parent can help by introducing them to other children to play with and acting as a helper for them to talk to other kids.
ISFJs want affirmation from their parents, they long to “belong” and feel secure in their family. If their parents aren’t very demonstrative of their love it can leave the young ISFJ feeling unloved. They may try to win their parents approval by serving more and doing more, and can then be left feeling tired and taken advantage of, or like nothing they do will ever be “good enough”.
ISFJs like a familiar, consistent routine in life. Unexpected changes like moving, family crises, or switching schools are very frightening and unsettling for them. They want to know what to expect, and how to prepare for what lies ahead. They also want a consistent parenting style, so wishy washy parenting can be frustrating for them. They also have a very keen awareness of what’s fair, and because they are so servant-hearted they risk being taken advantage of in the family. If you’re parenting an ISFJ, keep a close eye on what they do and make sure to thank them. If your other kids aren’t doing the same amount to help out, try to re-evaluate things to make sure everything is fair and your ISFJ isn’t getting burned out.
Related: The Childhood Struggles of ISFJs
The Artisans – SP Types
The ESTP Child
ESTPs are full of excitement and energy; always on the go and eager to push the limits. These children are usually full of fun and laughter, making jokes and entertaining those around them. They are delightful, enthusiastic and adaptable. They make brilliant problem solvers and charismatic entertainers. They have huge reserves of energy and are usually daring and brave.
The unique childhood struggles of the ESTP:
ESTP children are extremely curious and impulsive, and have a hard time remembering or observing rules. They want to touch, taste, see, and smell everything. They probably get a lot more discipline than other types because they’re so impulsive and curious. They are often the recipients of exasperated parents anger, frustration, and potentially abuse. This can lead to a damaged self-esteem and feelings of frustration in young ESTPs. They require a lot of patience from parents, and do best with swift, consistent discipline that isn’t charged with anger. Many ESTPs recall being constantly spanked, hit, or yelled at as children because of their naturally impulsive, energetic personality. They respect discipline if it’s explained logically, calmly, and handled without the fury of anger.
ESTPs are very energetic, and have a hard time sitting still. They’re very distractable and aware of all that’s going on around them. School life is usually stressful and boring for ESTPs, who want to get up and “do” something. They are very intelligent children, but learn better in an active, hands-on environment. They probably feel like the life is draining out of them during long school days sitting at a desk. When they get home from school, it’s best to give them plenty of opportunities to get outside and run around and explore and move.
ESTPs are very blunt and even outrageous in their manner of speaking. They speak their minds without inhibition, but as a result sometimes say things they don’t really mean or unintentionally hurt others feelings. Because of this they can make and lose friends quickly, and may need some help learning tact and sensitivity from their parents.
Living in a very strict, confined, rigid household is very stressful for ESTPs who long to get out and be adventurous. Many times parents are so focused on the ESTPs moments of recklessness, that their contributions are sometimes ignored. If you’re parenting an ESTP, be attentive to their contributions and skills and reward them with more freedom and show them that you admire their energy, resourcefulness and zest for life.
The ISTP Child
ISTP children are highly independent, realistic children with incredible tactical abilities. They thrive in the physical world, where they can be adventurous and hands-on. They are logical and resourceful, but also generous and fun-loving children. They’ll love to get their hands on things and take them apart, put them together, and explore in a free, unrestricted environment.
The unique childhood struggles of the ISTP:
ISTPs, like all SP types, are driven by curiosity and a free spirit. They love to explore the world around them, seeing all that can be seen, and doing all that can be done. Being in a rigid, highly structured environment can be stressful for them because they want so much to be adventurous and to “do”. This also can create problems in school, where they are forced to sit still and concentrate for long periods of time. Listening isn’t the strongest skill of the ISTP, in fact prolonged listening is very difficult for them, so the school years tend to be very frustrating for them. They often are misdiagnosed, along with the other SP types, as having ADD or ADHD. Truly, they are ingenious in their skills and are highly intelligent; they just learn better through an active, hands-on lifestyle.
Growing up with Feeler type parents can be a blessing and a curse for ISTP children. While they enjoy the positivity and caring their parents provide, they can be confused by what they see as illogical, overly emotional behavior. If their parents try to explain things through feelings or emotion, it will only confuse and frustrate the young ISTP. This can also cause a problem in relationships, where an ISTP can unwittingly offend or insult other children and lose friendships. If you’re parenting an ISTP, it would be wise to model empathy and tactfulness, and help them understand other people’s feelings in a calm, logical way.
ISTPs are not naturally impressed or intimidated by people in authority; so a strict, authoritarian parent can be exasperating for them. They believe that respect should be earned, and don’t automatically grant respect based on “rank”. For this reason, ISTPS, along with most other SP children, often experience a lot of harsh discipline growing up. Unlike the SJs, who respect authority, SPs don’t understand why they should respect someone just because they’re older or bigger. This frequent discipline can eventually do great damage to their self esteem, or cause them to become harsh with others as they grow up.
ISTPs want to be trusted and allowed independence. As you see your ISTP child’s resourcefulness and are able to teach them the difference between risk taking and dangerous behaviors and being safe, you should allow them more independence and freedom. Trying to hold them back can result in a defiant attitude and potentially dangerous rebellion. ISTPs are very competent and adaptable and are often very good at taking care of themselves.
The ESFP Child
ESFP children are the quintessential entertainers. They love to laugh and make other people laugh; they are probably the most extroverted of all the types, craving human connection constantly. They are down-to-earth, energetic children full of fun and enthusiasm. They live for the moment and are joyful optimists.
The unique childhood struggles of the ESFP:
ESFPs, like all SPs, live on impulse. Because of this they hate to have to wait around or sit still for very long. They have an abundance of energy, so school and being forced to sit still so long each day can prove quite frustrating to them. They are often misdiagnosed with ADD or ADHD because they find sitting still so aggravating. For this reason they usually dislike school, other than the social aspect. They can be quite intelligent, but like all other SPs, they learn better in an active, kinesthetic learning environment.
The ESFP living-for-the-moment mentality also means they can find rules and a rigid schedule very frustrating. They are very impulsive, so they often forget rules in favor of how they feel ‘right now’. This can land them in a lot of scrapes as children, and they can get disciplined much more than other types. ESFPs really crave approval and affection, so discipline that is done in anger (harsh spankings, yelling, etc,.) can be very damaging to their self-esteem and they can wind up feeling like they never do anything right.
ESFPs love being around people, and will find being cooped up in the house upsetting. They want to go out and have fun with everyone else, and interact. They love to get reactions out of people and as kids can be loud and get right up in people’s faces in their animation and exuberance. This can be great if their parents are a similar type, but this can also frustrate a lot of parents and the excitable young ESFPs can be constantly told to “be quiet”, and to “sit still” which leaves them with an abundance of bottled up energy. Getting these children involved in sports or the arts (dancing, music, drama) can be a great way for them to use their energy and express their sensory entertaining side.
The ISFP Child
ISFP children are gentle free-spirits who are easy-going and compassionate. They are highly sensitive and often have a knack for art, music and style. They love beauty, and have a desire to make beautiful things. They care deeply for their families and friends and live to make the best of each moment.
The unique childhood struggles of the ISFP:
ISFPs are highly sensitive and easily get hurt feelings as children; yelling, spankings, or criticism of any kind can make them feel very vulnerable and stressed. They want lots of snuggles, cuddles and approval, and if they don’t receive it as children it can make them feel very insecure and sad. However, at heart, like all SPs, ISFPs are optimists, and will try to look at what is positive in their lives.
ISFPs are extremely sensory, and love to touch and feel everything. They also are somewhat impulsive, and rules are easily forgotten. For this reason they can face a lot of discipline and they take that very hard. They also can feel stifled in an environment that is highly structured and rigid; they like to have a low-key lifestyle without a lot of demands on their time.
ISFPs usually love TV and videogames, and find school to often be boring and frustrating. Although they want to please their parents and teachers, they have a tendency to underachieve. They tend to only place importance on the practical and immediate needs, and often feel misunderstood or looked over in school settings. They can also face parents who are less than pleased with their academic performance or their personal pursuits. They may feel that they are never “good enough” to please the people most important to them. ISFPs can be highly intelligent, but learn best in a hands-on, active learning environment.
ISFPs struggle with planning ahead; they live in the moment, like other SPs and are better at being adaptable. For this reason, long detailed projects and tasks are overwhelming for them. Parents of ISFP children could help by breaking down projects for them into workable segments so that they don’t get as overwhelmed.
ISFPs need approval and support growing up; otherwise life is a scary and formidable experience. They care very much what other people think of them, and will often spend a great deal of time choosing the right clothes or brushing their teeth. They want to make a good impression on others, and because they are so sensory by nature, the way they look matters a lot to them. Don’t confuse this with vanity, ISFPs have a great understanding of beauty and like to incorporate that part of their personality into their dress.
ISFPs are very sensitive and will have a hard time dealing with conflict of any kind. When faced with hurt feelings, they may become very dramatic and misread things entirely. They may jump to conclusions and feel like someone hates them who merely disagrees with them. They have a tendency to hold grudges; and can use a lot of help from parents in learning to manage their emotions and not take things so hard.
The Idealists – NF Types
The ENFJ Child
ENFJ children are sunny and enthusiastic, blending creativity and warmth in an unforgettable way. They are highly sociable little children, loving to make others happy and striving for harmony in all their relationships. They, like all NF types, have a very strong belief system that they hold very dear. They are expressive and thoughtful; often very popular with other kids. Like all NF types, ENFJ children are highly imaginative and prone to daydreaming.
The unique childhood struggles of the ENFJ:
ENFJ children are highly sociable and get much energy from being around people. Being alone or cooped up in the house will be excruciating for these types. For this reason, if they’re part of a more introverted family they can feel that their needs aren’t met; or if they are met, they can spend so much time shuttling from one activity to another that it exhausts them.
ENFJs so much want to make others happy and are so afraid of hurting anyone’s feelings, that they may make decisions that aren’t in their best interests and suffer for it later. As they get older, they will need help learning how to be true to themselves even if it means disrupting the harmony of everyone else sometimes. They are so sensitive to the moods and feelings of others, that they absorb them into themselves. Conflict and distress in the lives of others will be absorbed by the ENFJ and it’s almost as if they are feeling the distress of others deep within themselves. Things like divorce in the family, death of a loved one, or any kind of conflict is taken very hard by these highly sensitive types.
ENFJ children are very affectionate and love to express their feelings freely. They will want to hug and cuddle with their friends and family members, but our culture sends strong messages about this affection being inappropriate. Because ENFJs are very concerned with being true to their hearts, they may feel they have to stifle a part of themselves to “fit in” to American culture and not be as affectionate and expressive as they naturally are.
ENFJs are extremely sensitive to criticism; and negative words have a deep impact on them. They take criticism extremely personally, and as a result, can feel sometimes that their families or loved ones don’t really love them after a dispute. They idealize their relationships and can feel tormented with ideas of abandonment when they are criticized. It would be wise for parents of ENFJs to frequently express their unchanging love for their child; especially before a punishment or criticism.
The INFJ Child
INFJ children are dreamers in every sense of the word. They are highly imaginative and creative, and also very private and protective of their inner worlds. They are often quiet, gentle and sensitive, but if one of their values is questioned they can instantly become fiery, passionate and (sometimes) stubborn. They are very intellectual and empathetic, concerned with the world and everyone in it. They are always looking to understand the meaning of everything that touches their lives; feeling that it is all connected somehow.
The unique childhood struggles of the INFJ:
INFJs live inside a rich inner world. They thrive on the ability to use their imagination, to analyze, and to ponder. For this reason, things like interruptions, being part of a more extroverted family, or sudden changes in plans can greatly upset them. They get so caught up in their thoughts that to be interrupted or pulled in a different direction is very stressful for them. This may also make it harder for them to concentrate on projects that don’t fall in line with their inner world; and although they want to please their teachers, they can often struggle with the more rote aspects of school.
INFJs are often very shy as children; but also very much want to be liked or to have one or two very close friends. They can often have a hard time making friends because of their intensely private natures; although they are usually well-liked by their peers because of their warmth and sincerity.
INFJs derive strength and nourishment from being able to spend time alone daydreaming. This is often suppressed by parents and the world, who are more concerned with “getting things done”. However, this isn’t just a desire for an INFJ, it’s a need. Their dominant function is introverted intuition, which is often accessed through ‘daydreaming’, and without being able to use it they can feel a huge amount of stress; as anyone does when they can’t regularly access their dominant function. Imagine how damaging it would be to tell an ESFJ (the most common type in females) to not care about other people’s feelings anymore. Because many can’t see the practical purpose of introverted intuition (plenty of people can see the practical purpose of caring about feelings or thinking logically) INFJs are often told to get out of their heads, stop daydreaming, and get to work on the sensory aspects of life. For this reason, the use of their dominant function is often stifled during childhood. They make up only 1-2% of the population, and because of a lack of understanding can often grow up feeling misunderstood, and forced into a box that just doesn’t “fit them”.
If you’re parenting an INFJ, try to make sure you give your child plenty of time to think and daydream. Try to protect them from a demanding and high-speed world by creating private times and places they can go to be alone. It’s best not to interrupt an INFJ when they’re working on a project or thinking hard about something (unless you have to). Their mind is so busy making connections and so focused on their idea that, when interrupted, it feels to them like all their finely tuned internal pieces have just been scattered everywhere. They can lose interest in the project altogether and become very frustrated. They are perfectionists as well, and hold themselves to such a high standard that they can get frustrated easily while trying to perfect their projects and ideas.
INFJs intensely hate conflict; like all extraverted feelers, they absorb others emotions within themselves. They greatly desire harmony in their outer world, and if someone is stressed or unhappy they will feel it inside and do whatever they can to make things harmonious again. For this reason, divorce, fighting, or any kind of anger is taken very hard by them. They also take criticism very personally, and can often feel insecure in a family where their feelings aren’t handled carefully by those around them.
INFJ children have a hard time understanding their own emotions, but can easily pick up on other people’s emotions. For this reason, they can easily get overwhelmed or confused about how they feel. Along with INTJs, INFJs are the most likely to experience health problems as a result of internalizing stress and emotions.
Related: The Struggles of Being an INFJ Child
The ENFP Child
ENFP children are some of the most enthusiastic and insatiably curious of all the types. They constantly dream of what is possible, and are overflowing with ideas and energy. They are very sensitive and imaginative, wanting to share all their thoughts and dreams with the world. They are eager to make friends and connect with others. They have an adventurous spirit; longing to explore the world and new environments.
The unique childhood struggles of the ENFP:
Focus and concentration don’t come easily to most ENFPs. They are so full of ideas and possibilities, that they often get lost in a trail of thoughts. This makes school often frustrating for them, where they are forced to sit still and concentrate on one task at a time. Their enthusiasm for every possibility also means they can take on more projects than they can realistically finish, which can lead to them being overwhelmed. They have a playful, boisterous enthusiasm that makes them endearing children, but can lend itself to trouble in school. They are often misdiagnosed with having ADD or ADHD because of their enormous energy and inability to focus on one thing at a time.
ENFPs as children often have trouble with self-discipline and can procrastinate, leaving important tasks till the last minute. This can breed a sort of chaos around them that can be overwhelming to them and those who live with them. Parents should try to offer gentle reminders, early in the process, in a private and encouraging manner to help them keep on task with their endeavors. However, as they get older, it’s wise to let ENFPs learn to rescue themselves and form their own way of managing projects.
ENFPs are very sensitive and tend to cry easily as children. They easily get their feelings hurt, and can often fall into depression. In public they may seem as enthusiastic, playful and active as ever, but in private they can be quite worried, depressed, and fearful. They are prone to self-blame and bouts of depression, and could use gentle encouragement from parents regularly of their love and acceptance.
ENFPs long very much to be able to express their thoughts and ideas; and if they’re raised in a more Sensor/Judger type environment, they can often feel stifled and misunderstood. Sensors may not see the point in the ENFPs theoretical ideas or abstract ramblings, and can cut them off short, or label them as “flighty”. ENFP children are very intelligent and insightful, but are often cast aside as “ditzy” or “dreamy” by parents who don’t share the same nature.
The INFP Child
INFP children are some of the most intensely private and deeply passionate of all the types. On the surface they may seem cool and reserved, but inside they have an intensity of feeling and strongly held values. They are quiet, serious and highly sensitive children who deeply care about those close to them. They usually have a rich fantasy life and are naturally creative. They strongly desire to understand the meaning of life and love to express themselves in artistic ways; through music, writing, poetry, dance, or theater.
The unique childhood struggles of the INFP:
INFP children are highly sensitive and live life with a certain emotional vulnerability. They are easily hurt by real or perceived insensitivity, and they can become very irrational in response to this. They can feel insecure and as if they are betrayed by those they hold dear. In order to protect themselves, they have a tendency to hold grudges and have a hard time forgiving and forgetting. They are introverted feelers, which means they are very aware of their own feelings; but have a harder time understanding feelings that are foreign to them. For this reason, they can often be hurt by things that weren’t meant to be hurtful at all.
INFP children quickly become bored with routine and a rigid structure. They like to mix work and play, and may often have half-finished projects that are abandoned when something new comes along. They are so drawn to alternative paths of discovery that they can struggle with meeting deadlines for homework and can have a hard time staying on task in school. They can get very frustrated and overwhelmed by a world that naturally is more in tune with a sensor/judger-type mindset.
Because INFPs are so internally focused and thoughtful, they aren’t always very aware of what’s going on around them unless it involves someone or something that is personally meaningful to them. They can frequently forget things like homework, or their backpacks. This may also lend itself to the INFP being somewhat clumsy and awkward. Some INFPs do excel at athletics; but it is usually because they have made this something personally meaningful to them and given it great attention.
INFP children long for harmony and good-will in their family; and will become very distressed if there is conflict. They may cry easily as children, and because they are so private feel very embarrassed by this outward display of emotion. Male INFPs in particular often face scrutiny or bullying for their sensitivity and emotional nature. Parents of INFPs would be wise to encourage their children, and to accept them how they are; let them know their feelings are perfectly normal and that you accept them just how they are.
INFP children are easily distracted, and often have to be reminded to finish things. They are so internally focused that if they’re feeling upset, worried, or have their minds on anything else they may not even hear what’s going on around them. Their feelings are the loudest thing they hear. They care very deeply about others, but can struggle with getting out of their own heads or their own feelings to reach out to others. That said, they are excellent listeners when engaged in one-on-one conversation and can listen intentionally much longer than many of the other types can.
Related: The Struggles of Being an INFP Child
The Rationals – NT Types
The ENTJ Child
ENTJ children are fiercely independent, logical, strong-willed and ambitious. They are driven by intellectual curiosity and a need to master everything they try. These creative and inventive children are full of energy, excitement and challenge. They are born leaders, and instinctually see ways of getting things done and have great energy for accomplishing tasks. They are extremely determined and outspoken with a great amount of self-confidence.
The unique childhood struggles of the ENTJ
ENTJs rely intensely on their logic and thinking; because of this they are very uncomfortable with the world of feelings and emotions. They hate to cry and will do whatever possible to not seem vulnerable. Because of this, during moments where their emotions show, they can feel intense shame afterwards. Having a parent who can help them understand that these emotions are normal and not something to be ashamed of is essential; it’s also wise to not fuss over them when they’re in an emotional state, because this will only make them feel more humiliated. This same discomfort with feelings means that they can be unintentionally insensitive to others frequently growing up; hurting feelings or coming across as a know-it-all or judgmental. Parents would be wise to model empathy and tactfulness for ENTJ children, and to rephrase insensitive comments back to them.
ENTJs always crave a challenge, and are highly ambitious. Because of this they can often “bite off more than they can chew” and get overwhelmed with a huge amount of obligations and responsibilities. They don’t like to accept help with their projects either, because that would make it impossible for them to enjoy the pride of accomplishing something on their own.
ENTJs long for more and more freedom and independence. They are so self-determined that they long to have complete control of their environment. While this can be a wonderful thing for them; they rise to any challenge you place before them, it can also mean they grow up too quickly and don’t enjoy the beautiful innocence and experiences of childhood. This yearning for control can also cause them to butt heads with their parents over rules and responsibilities they see as trivial.
The INTJ Child
INTJ children are highly creative and intellectual, yearning to understand the truth of the universe. These quiet, serious children are intensely curious about why things are the way they are, and they long for logic and truth in everything they do. They have a rich inner life and love the fantasy and scientific world, learning as much as possible about things that interest them.
The unique childhood struggles of the INTJ
INTJ children, along with INFJs, have a low threshold for outside stimulation. In order for them to think clearly and be at peace, they need things to be quiet and peaceful. While others may think they are wasting time daydreaming, this quiet time inside their own mind is often spent conceiving their most ingenious thoughts and ideas. Having to be forced out of their minds into an extroverted world, or by cause of interruption, is highly frustrating to them. They need to be allowed privacy and solitude to thrive.
INTJ children can be quite independent and stubborn, and often struggle with respecting an authority unless they feel that respect has been earned. They are rarely persuaded to do things they don’t want to do, or don’t believe in. This can lead to them butting heads with a parent or authority figure. They respect others who earn their respect using honesty and truth and logic; not rank or age. They have a strong sense of what is fair and don’t hesitate from putting up a fight if they feel they have been unfairly accused or misjudged. They also have such a strong need to be right that they can have a hard time backing down from an argument or admitting a mistake. Because of their strong independent nature, parents of INTJs would be wise to give them a lot of responsibility, and opportunities to prove they can take care of themselves. Explain the basic parameters of what is needed or expected, and then allow them to determine how to live independently in those lines.
INTJ children are so internally focused on their thoughts and ideas, that they don’t care too much about “fitting in” with society as a whole. Because of this, they can often seem aloof or uncaring and may have a hard time gracefully navigating through the complicated waters of human interaction. They can care very deeply about their loved ones, but aren’t prone to be very demonstrative of their love. They may end up being berated by more feeling-type parents for their lack of social graces or because they weren’t nice enough to “dear old Aunt Lucy”. This can be a frustrating experience for INTJs who don’t see the practical purpose of small talk, social niceties, and pretending to be something they’re not.
The ENTP Child
ENTPs are friendly, energetic children who are driven by their imagination and curiosity towards anything new, different, and exciting. They are driven to be innovative and are often full of fun and good humor. They have a natural charm and cleverness that shows itself through their storytelling ability, clever puns, and engaging presence. They are very spirited and insightful, and enjoy debating with others to get to the truth of any matter.
The unique childhood struggles of the ENTP
ENTP children are naturally skeptical and are rarely convinced of anything without rational reasoning or logical consequences. They are very opinionated and can be argumentative, which can lead them to being called bossy or arrogant. They often feel misunderstood in this; in their minds they are merely trying to point out an inconsistency and can’t stand to see a flaw in any position or argument. This may cause them to butt heads with other children, teachers, or their parents.
ENTPs may seem messy or disorganized, and they have a hard time following through on all their commitments. They love to stay open to new ideas and to be adaptable, and so they resist structure and limits. This can cause great frustration to them and their parents, when they are constantly having to rush to get a project done or be told over and over again to keep their room clean. ENTP parents should remember that ENTPs can be highly inventive in a state of perceived “chaos”, and possibly allow them a little space for disorder.
ENTPs are very sociable and outgoing, and will get frustrated being cooped up at home. They love to have an audience, and love a good pair of listening ears for all their ideas and plans. They are often very popular, but grow up quickly. They are very anxious to get on their own two feet and to be in control of their lives, so they may push for bedtimes to be later, and more freedom to go places and experience things. If they live under very strict parents they can feel stifled and disrespected because of the lack of freedom. They greatly desire to be seen as competent, so being treated their age can be very irritating to them.
The INTP Child
INTPs are one of the most intensely curious of all the children. They are driven by a need to understand the world, and are extremely independent and strong-willed. They are incredibly logical and matter-of-fact, and are very skeptical of established facts or theories. They love to question and explore alternatives, and often have original, ingenious ideas. They are adaptable and easy-going, and usually have a fun, offbeat sense of humor.
The unique childhood struggles of the INTP
INTPS are natural skeptics, who are driven by a need for logic and truth. Because of this, they have a naturally argumentative style that is often at odds with their parents authority. They question everything, and with very strict parents can often feel stifled and held down. For them, as with the other NT types, respect needs to be earned, not automatically given. They don’t mind disagreeing with an authority figure if they see something that doesn’t make logical sense. Because of this, they can end up getting frequently punished because the parent sees them as being disrespectful to their authority. This can be quite frustrating for the INTP child who just wants to get to the truth of the matter at hand.
INTPs see many possibilities and ideas everywhere, and in school find it hard to stay focused. They hate the repetition and routine, and want a steep learning curve. They are usually highly intelligent, and don’t care that much about grades or what their teachers think of them. They are usually much more intelligent than their teachers are aware of, because they don’t feel the need to “prove” their intelligence. They may get so bored during school that they scribble down answers without thinking, and get poor grades as a result. In their minds they have more important things to be thinking about than the same sums day after day after day. This can lead to problems at school or at home, with parents or teachers who judge the child as incompetent or lazy. Parents of INTPs do best to pay attention to what areas of interest their child has, and to encourage and support their child in pursuit of that interest or goal. They can learn quite a lot by discovering all there is to know about an interest they have.
INTPs are easily overwhelmed by too much noise and talking. They live life primarily inside their own heads, and find noise and lecturing a constant interruption. Because they are so internal, they can often come across as clumsy or slow. They really aren’t slow, but each time they are asked to engage they have to forcefully pull themselves out of their own thoughts and ideas. Too much noise or sensory stimulation is overwhelming for them, and as very young children can display tantrums in reaction to sensory overload. They may bury their heads in a pillow and scream or just isolate themselves from all noise.
One major issue that INTPs deal with is that they think through things logically, and without a lot of emotion or feeling. They find themselves confused by other people’s feelings and emotions, and have a hard time understanding social niceties. They are often misunderstood because of this and reprimanded for not using manners or engaging in small talk. This can be very frustrating for them.
One sad fact is that INTPs are the most likely type to be misdiagnosed with autism or aspergers. The world often doesn’t see how insightful and intelligent these children are, and merely tries to force them into a mold that is more “normal”. There’s a possibility that INTPs are more likely than other types to live with aspergers or autism, but so far my research has been inconclusive on this.
I know this has been a really long post to read! I probably should have made it into an ebook instead of a post, but either way I hope it was helpful! Please let me know what your thoughts are in the comments! I’m only one personality type, and have formulated these thoughts on what I’ve read and studied of other personality types. However, I’d love to hear what any of you think. Do you feel like you relate to these struggles or do you feel like they’re off base? Let me know!
Now that you know the struggles, do you want to find out what each child needs based on their type?
Gifts Differing: Understanding Personality Type
Nurture by Nature: Understand Your Child’s Personality Type – And Become a Better Parent
Type Talk: The 16 Personality Types That Determine How We Live, Love, and Work
The 16 Personality Types: Profiles, Theory, & Type Development
The INTP: Personality, Careers, Relationships, & the Quest for Truth and Meaning