If your baby comes home from the hospital quiet and easy-going, will the peace last? What about the toddler who enjoys nothing more than turning the pages of a book, while another is scaling every surface in sight? Will their personalities change over the years?
Parents who dreamed of their child becoming a celebrated athlete may be disappointed when he or she prefers staying inside taking a clock apart to playing outdoors with friends. Parents hoping for a Rhodes scholar may be let down when their child would rather climb trees than read books.
Many experts believe that Myers-Briggs personality tests are unreliable in children. Others claim that infants have their basic personalities in place from the time they take their first breath. Personality scores may shift over the years, but they rarely make an about face.
This is about introverted (I) children. There are eight types of introverts according to Myers-Briggs theory. They differ in the combinations of the other three pairs of traits on the personality test: 1) sensing (S) and intuition (N); 2) feeling (F) and thinking (T); and 3) perceiving (P) and judging (J). The scores on four pairs range from one extreme to another, with some close to the middle.
Sensing (S) kids are observant and aware of all the details around them. Intuitive (N) types are more thoughtful and rely on hunches. Feeling (F) children make decisions based on how they’ll affect other people. Those of the thinking (T) type depend on logic and are less likely to focus on outcomes. Perceiving (P) children are easy-going and move from one activity to another. Those with a judging (J) preference are more focused and like to finish things.
ISFJ: Introverted, Sensing, Feeling and Judging
As children, ISFJs are generally well behaved. They’re little trouble to their parents and teachers. They want to know what’s expected of then, and they quietly follow through. Even when asked to make sacrifices, ISFJ kids take pride doing the right thing. In school, they stick with a few close friends and avoid conflict.
Because ISFJ children try to be certain about their duties, they tend to do only what they’re told. With their inward focus, they have a tendency to worry about things. For this reason, they may perform below their potential. They need encouragement to stretch themselves.
ISFP: Introverted, Sensing, Feeling and Perceiving
ISFP kids are quiet and kind. Because they avoid the spotlight, their many gifts may be overlooked. They are compassionate not only with other people, but also with animals—and indeed with all living things. They’re easy to like and attract other kids as friends. When arguments arise, they act as peacemakers.
ISFP children appreciate beauty, often making unique gifts for others that are colorful and beautiful. They enjoy the feeling of their bodies in motion—skating, dancing, and simply moving gracefully.
INFJ: Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling and Judging
INFJs are complex, even as young children. While they can be outgoing at times and involved with other kids, they’re also quiet and creative, caught up in their private worlds. They’re gentle and dislike violence and cruelty, whether in games or in real life.
It’s not uncommon for INFJ children to make frequent trips to the library, bringing home many books at a time and spending hours in their rooms reading. The next day, they’re outdoors having adventures with friends. INFJ kids can be a challenge to parents who find their inconsistency hard to understand.
INFP: Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling and Perceiving
INFP children are daydreamers, creating their own fantasy worlds. They are quiet, especially in new situations. Sometimes their parents worry whether they’re sufficiently grounded in reality. These kids enjoy getting lost in books. They learn to write at an early age.
Before INFPs even start school, they know what’s important to them. They sense where they’re headed and seldom ask for guidance. They’d rather do things for themselves than get help—to be sure they’re done right. They’re often careful not to reveal their mistakes to others. INFP children benefit from gentle handling and understanding.
INTJ: Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking and Judging
The independent natures of INTJ children are apparent early in life. They like to daydream and get caught up in ideas of how the world should be. They can be rebellious when told things that contradict what they believe. INTJs make their own rules and boundaries.
The life of the mind is important to INTJs, so they value their education. They‘re creative and innovative, finding their own efficient ways of doing and making things. These children can be a challenge to parents who would prefer easy-going, compliant children.
INTP: Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking and Perceiving
As children, INTPs often enjoy their own thoughts more than the company of other kids. They generally read a lot, going out to play only when invited. INTPs are full of questions, many times challenging parents and teachers with their observations. More than most children, INTPs enjoy inventing things and finding unusual pastimes not typical of kids their age.
INTP tastes are not dictated by popular trends. When these children disagree with conventional ideas, they’re quick to find fault in people’s logic, no matter how important the person. Some parents are baffled by the complexity of children who seem to have such a rich inner life.
ISTP: Introverted, Sensing, Thinking and Perceiving
ISTP children have two sides—one that observes the world and one that takes action. The observer likes to sit quietly and watch what’s going on, absorbing all the details. These kids want to know what make things tick, taking them apart to see how they work. Children of this type who play outdoors a lot are frequently experts on bugs, snakes, and other wildlife.
Usually, ISTPs are good with their hands and can fix things. They aren’t afraid to take risks with such sports as rock-climbing and backpacking. Parents who enjoy quiet children will find much to treasure in the ISTP.
ISTJ: Introverted, Sensing, Thinking and Judging
As children, ISTJs are well behaved and quiet. They function best in an environment that’s ordered and structured. With their well-developed sense of responsibility, ISTJs do best when given schedules to follow. They want to get their work done before they play. Around new people, they’re cautious and often uneasy until they get to know them. When ISTJs know what to expect, they’re more relaxed.
People of this personality type take a conventional view of life. While they enjoy solitary pastimes at home, they also appreciate traditional group activities such as scouting. Parents of these conscientious children can help them develop a more playful side of their personalities.
Part 2 of this series describes the eight types of extraverted children.