Knowing one’s temperament, passions, strengths, and weaknesses is important in charting a successful path through life. Here are some ideas for teaching your children to look at themselves and plan their futures.
Note to teachers: Schedule an “evaluate yourself” project with each class each term. If you have struggling students, use the results to explore how assignments might be adapted to their learning styles.
The popular Meyers-Briggs® personality evaluator can be adapted for children and teenagers: look up versions labeled “for kids” or “for students.” Or you can help your kids make up a simple “rate yourself 1–5” scale based on the four MB personality dichotomies, e.g.:
There are other “personality” and “temperament” tests, but the key factors always are:
Pinpointing temperament traits is an important step toward finding an ideal life path that minimizes toxic stress.
Ask your children:
Encourage kids to explore projects, including extracurricular activities and volunteer opportunities, that appeal deeply to their passions.
Everyone should know what he or she does well, especially if it’s different from what “most people” take to naturally. The artist in a group of scholars should never be pushed to compete with the others: he needs encouragement to develop his own talents and find the best ways to use them. And if a child is so discouraged as to insist, “I’m not good at anything,” gently encourage her with reminders of what you’ve seen her do well. (But not in any manner that smacks of chiding.
Most people who hear “Oh, come on, you did so well at this/that” only react by dwelling harder on the imperfections of their accomplishments.)
Strengths are usually closely related to temperament and passions. Use your child’s answers in the above sections as guides to listing her strong points.
While a person’s natural struggle points should never be emphasized, everyone does need to be aware of theirs, if only to avoid wasting time on things they weren’t made for. Do this after completing the above sections, and the question of weaknesses will likely be automatically answered by looking at the opposites of the strong traits. If a weakness does seem to fall into the area of “essential for making use of a passion,” chances are the “weakness” is actually a latent strength that just needs to be developed.
Above all, never imply that “different” equals “inferior.” Everyone is different from everyone else; and a world of unique individuals, who know themselves and how they best contribute, is a world on its way to becoming a better place.