If you aren't familiar with DISC, check out the DISC Assessment on this website for more information.
1) Appreciate children for who they are, not for who you want them to be. You have an advantage if you are the same personality type as a child because it makes it easier to build a relationship. When you share a common personality type, it’s easier to understand where that child is coming from, how they think, and how they feel. Conflict is still possible, of course, especially if you and the child both share dominant D personality styles. But, as a whole, understanding comes easier when you share common traits.
When you don’t share a personality style with kids, it takes a little more work to see eye-to-eye. When you have a working knowledge of DISC theory, you understand that if you have an I personality, you might be frustrated with a child who is shy or soft spoken. Or, if you have a C personality, the lack of organizational skills in a child might drive you crazy. Remember that you can’t change the nature of children’s personalities. Work with their styles, rather than against them. Appreciate the fact that differences in personality require different approaches, and be willing to adapt as necessary.
2) Remove emotional roadblocks that make it difficult for you to talk to children. There are bound to be times when certain kids drive you crazy. That’s ok—They probably feel the same way about you. DISC promotes interpersonal empathy that can diffuse anger, resentment, and petty annoyances. When you understand that differences are based on innate personality traits, it’s much more difficult to feel anger towards the other person. Realizing that someone’s behavior comes from an instinctual place can help prevent negative emotional reactions to them. Better still, when you are familiar with the ways that different personality styles best communicate with one another, you’ll be able to make your conversations more productive, open, and effective. To avoid potential difficulties, when talking with children, remember:
- D likes to be in charge
- I needs to be liked
- S needs stability
- C hates confrontation
Whether those traits apply to you or the child, you can find a way to recognize where your emotional reactions are coming from, and move past them in a positive and loving manner.
3) Be appreciative of children’s strengths. There are going to be things that frustrate you. But don’t let them get in the way of also seeing what’s amazing about kids of different personality types. Every personality type has amazing and admirable traits. Tell children that you see those traits, not just the things that frustrate you.
4) Give the right kind of advice. Here are a few examples of advice that, unless delivered with great patience and explanation, will fall on deaf ears:
- Telling a child with a D personality to stop being so bossy.
- Telling a child with an I personality to stop talking so much.
- Telling a child with an S personality to stop being so stuck in their routine.
- Telling a child with a C personality to stop worrying.
Make sure that any advice you give children is compatible their personality style. Finding the right way to frame the right kind of advice can be crucial, too. For example, S and C personalities require a more gentle (and less confrontational) approach than D and I personalities can tolerate.
5) Find activities you can enjoy together. Shared activities are a must. A few suggestions include: A D-style child might enjoy playing a competitive game. I-style children would like to spend time doing something fun and social. S-style children might like established routines and plans. Plan an outing to the museum for your C-style child.
Final Thoughts: In the end, the most important thing to remember is that all personality types have value. There isn’t one that’s “better” than the other.
- Toolbox Training (2020). "DISC Assessment"
- 123test.com (free online test)
- OnlinePersonalityTests.org (free online test)