Your natural tendencies can be your greatest gifts in parenting.
As a Type 4 mom, you have a gift for creating structure and always striving for perfection. But when those tendencies get out of balance, your children can suffer in ways you may not realize.
In this episode, Carol and Anne help Type 4 parents to clarify their priorities and create structure that will support the whole family—including mom.
This week’s Parenting Practice
Choose only one of the three mistakes that Carol and Anne share in this episode. Where do you see yourself needing to make some changes? As a Type 4 mom, you want to do the best job you can. Use this information to make improvements that will support you and your family.
Transcript of podcast episode
Carol: I’m real blunt on this one, right?
Carol: They want me to be. No, you can take it. You want to know this because you really don’t want to portray that.
Welcome to The Child Whisperer podcast. I’m your host, Carol Tuttle, author of the best-selling parenting book, The Child Whisperer. I’m with my co-host, Anne Tuttle Brown.
I really enjoyed this series. We’ve had a lot of great feedback from moms, and we’re wrapping it up with our look at mistakes Type 4 mothers can have a tendency to make. And I know, because they’re invested as mothers, they really want to do a perfect job. They want to keep improving it. So, they…you know, I love that they’re open to feedback and our Type 4 energy expresses is structured, balanced. They take that natural movement and like to apply it to perfecting things, creating structures. Efficiency is a big part of their world. So, each of these three tendencies we’re going to mention can fall prey to becoming dysfunctional that creates a imbalance to yourself and your family. The first tendency is you have a natural gift for critiquing things. That can come across as being too critical and harsh with your children and your spouse.
Anne: Contrast this with the Type 2 tendency of not being clear and direct enough. So, we can kind of learn from each other, right?
Carol: It’s the other extreme.
Anne: With a Type 4, you can be very clear and very direct, and sometimes it’s needed to just be a little bit softer, a little bit gentler in your approach with your children. And what scenarios would this… Because I think this is a great gift. Because, like we mentioned in the Type 1 podcast, it was, you know, you can rely on your Type 4s to be very consistent, where the Type 1’s going to be the more inconsistent parent. And so, how can this become a gift? And then when does it get too far that it’s now a challenge and a dysfunction?
Carol: When the focus, again, is wanting things to become more efficient and you lose sight of the fact there’s an emotional experience happening for everyone in your family, so it can come across as that you’re not sensitive to how they’re feeling. That it’s all about making sure things work better, or there’s more structure, or the family’s system runs a certain degree of smooth.
Let’s just take having a child make their bed in the morning, you know? If that’s something you feel very strongly about, that a child should learn to make their bed, it’s learning responsibility, it’s taking care of what we own. And they just aren’t of the nature to be consistent with things, you might have a Type 1 child that’s just…it feels like a burden. It feels heavy. It feels like, “This isn’t fun.” That’s not motivating to them, but the fact that you see it as, “This is important,” you can come across very stern and critical, so that they, again, feel that heaviness of discipline because you apply discipline in this way, where there’s a correction made and reinforced. So, how is it being received? Is it coming…you know, is it… What’s the tone of your voice? What’s the language you’re using? What importance are you putting on it? That can seem harsh. Harshness isn’t always in tone of voice and language, it’s the value you put on something might feel harsh to everyone else. Just like, what if your child learned to make their bed three times a week? And do they have a bed that’s so easy to make that it’s basically pulling up a comforter, their bed’s made.
Anne: And have you given your child a voice to share what they’re feeling about the situation and not just, “This is how it’s going to be. This is how it should be.”
Carol: We had a post on The Child Whisperer Facebook group from a Type 4 mother who was very upset and frustrated that her Type 3 daughter, who was about 10 or 11, kept eating in her room. And there’s a firm rule in the household that you do not eat outside the kitchen. Well, you can imagine, there is a variety of responses to that from those of us that are more practical, Type 3, saying, “You really want to make that one an issue?” You know? And oh, her daughter was lying and sneaking food into her room. The issue was she was lying and she’d find wrappers and remnants of food, and she was very upset that they weren’t obeying the family rule. Well, maybe the family rule was a little too harsh. Maybe it was okay if there’s a process of cleaning up and take responsibility for your space and there…it came out in the conversation that there was new carpet.
So, all of a sudden, what’s more important? The child was a Type 3. The child’s Type 3 tendency to want to have some independence, be in charge of that, or feel confined to a rule that they probably don’t even think is necessary because of new carpet? See, this seems harsh. That can come across as very harsh to a child. And then the criticism, you know, you’ve broken the rule. You’ve set your child up to break a rule that now they’re going to be criticized for. And my thought was, “Get rid of the rule. Teach a child the consequences if they do not take responsibility for the cleanup,” because it came out also in the conversation that it wasn’t junk food they were eating, it was healthy foods. It was just there were a lot of rules around this whole eating thing.
Anne: You think a Type 4 can have too many rules?
Carol: Oh, very much. Very much.
Anne: So, where do you…
Carol: Again, this is an example of the carpet… Sure you… I mean, I get that. You have a new carpet, yet is it being managed in a way that you can work with that so that you teach your child care for belongings and space and all that without creating all these rules to make sure it happens? What if your child just learned how…you know, that’s a nice character trait to have to say, “I take care of what I own,” without a rule.
Anne: What’s the side effect of living in a house where you have a Type 4 parent and there are so many rules, say, especially for a Type 1 or Type 3 child where there’s more higher energy…
Anne: Yeah. Do you think, like, they’ll, like, just want to get out of the house?
Carol: Yeah, you’re going to see more rule breaking.
Anne: Rule breaking.
Carol: Then you’re going to go, “I’ve got to discipline so they learn how to obey rules,” because now…
Anne: So, maybe start…get rid of the rule. Teach…
Carol: Yeah, well now we’re dealing with the whole line of thinking that, you know, children need to learn to obey rules. Well, why…you know, in their mind, a Type 3 practical approach to life, you’re going, “Why do we even have this rule?”
Anne: Yeah, and you might ask yourself that question as a parent.
Carol: And, “This is silly.”
Anne: “What’s the purpose of this rule?” Okay, if that’s the purpose, let’s work backwards and say, “Okay, maybe get…remove the rule and teach some practices.”
Carol: Right, because when it comes to sort of the letter of the law, the means to the end, well, I have rule…you know, now you’re in the mindset, “Well, they should just learn to obey rules.” Well, not necessarily. You don’t like obeying rules you think are stupid, so.
Anne: Yeah, you can appreciate that.
Carol: Maybe the rule isn’t necessary. And is it really a rule that supports other Types of children? Like, you’ve got to sort that one out. Do a rule inventory and see how many rules do you have. The second tendency that can turn into a dysfunction is you have a perfecting nature. You have a…you’re able to look for the point you want to, you know, kind of the big picture and where you want to get and the potential. And this tendency of “It’s never good enough” plays out for you that there’s always more that can be improved. Well, that can turn into projecting onto your children this perfecting quality and putting demands on them that just are unreasonable for them to meet.
Anne: Again, leave them with a feeling of, “You’re never good enough.”
Carol: Yeah, that it’s never quite right.
Anne: Watch what feedback you’re giving.
Carol: Mm-hmm. It still could be perfected based on your perception and experience of the world, and they’re not able to meet that mark. And so, you tend to think then more structure will create more potential for that. Not necessarily.
Anne: Or more explaining, more reasoning. You see a lot of Type 4 parents try to reason with their kids. Type 4’s very intellectual, it’s the way that they process a lot of their information and think through very reasonably. And so, you sit down and try and talk it out reasonably with a Type 3 toddler, you’re not going anywhere with that conversation.
Carol: No. They lost you on sentence two.
Anne: You do that over and over. But that’s a gift, like, to be able to have those conversations at the right time and in the right place. Like, a Type 4 parent can bring a lot of sound and reason to a situation. But if you’re always hammering them with a lecture, they’re going to tune you out.
Carol: It’s like take…
Anne: So you’re going to… You have to like…
Carol: …something simple. I think this is a beautiful example because let’s take something like loading the dishwasher, okay? We have these Facebook groups and it’s been more than once that I’ve had a Type 4 post a picture of a loaded dishwasher where the dishes are…
Anne: It was all wrong.
Carol: Well, according to the post, it was wrong because they weren’t lined up a certain way, or they weren’t in a certain order, in grouping. Or there was someone that posted one recently of their flatware being…like, the children had to take the eating utensils out of the dishwasher and they weren’t all perfectly placed in the right direction in the silverware tray, in the drawer.
Anne: So, they were just like, “Ha ha, look how cute.”
Carol: Yeah, like…
Anne: But they’re like, “This infuriates me.”
Carol: No, no, they were saying like kind of a little bit of a slam. Like, you know, “This is so, you know, look what I have to deal with.” And, like, it’s suggesting it’s wrong, and this is in this tendency to set a standard in a scenario that maybe the standard doesn’t need to be there. So, if you load the dishwasher, you have a certain standard for how you do it. With your Type 3, Type 2, any child, and regarding their age as well, what if just getting the job done was the standard? See how that alteration rather than, “We’ll get the job done, but the job has to look a certain way.”
Anne: I would say, if you want it to look a certain way, then make that part of the training. Like, don’t be like, “Unload the dishwasher,” then come back and be like, “You did this. This needs to be corrected.” Be like, “I’m going to teach you how…” And like…and what… I mean, I feel like the…
Carol: I’d wait on that.
Anne: Yeah, but I feel like there’s this place to be teaching, and…
Anne: …whether or not it comes out like that…
Carol: But you’ve got to really be discerning on what things are really important to you to teach this morality of right and wrong. This sort of…there’s a right and wrong way to do things in life.
Anne: That’s true, yeah.
Carol: And loading dishwashers, to me, in today’s world, oh my gosh, I mean, you’re going to snuff out the big stuff if you get too overwhelming on the little… You know, you got lots of opportunities to teach the right and wrong factor of life based on the cause and effect of things. What’s the cause and effect of a dishwasher being loaded? Maybe you won’t get quite as many dishes in there, they’re still going to get clean, versus really teaching right and wrong as a cause and effect of your moral choices. I kind of save it for that in today’s world because there’s a lot.
Anne: So they’re not tuning you out being like, “There my mom goes again.”
Carol: Yes, they’re going to tune you out going, “I can’t…it’s never good enough. It’s never right.” Don’t make putting…
Anne: Not even going to try.
Carol: …the silverware in a drawer… There’s a right and wrong…you know, be grateful they did…
Anne: In your mind, as a Type 4, there is black…
Carol: …the job.
Anne: …and white. There is a right and wrong.
Carol: Yes. Yeah.
Anne: To unloading and loading the dishwasher…
Carol: Apply that to yourself.
Anne: So, keep it…yeah.
Carol: Hey, I got enough Type 4 in me to get this when I let go of kind of policing your bedrooms, I just shut the door. I thought, “You know? We had one criteria. If you wanted the cleaning lady that I had every week come to go in your room and do the deeper cleaning, like dusting and vacuuming, you better have it clean. I’m not going to make them…I am not paying this person to pick your stuff up off the floor.” But I learned to let go of what just…I couldn’t put my standard because I do manage my space very Type 4. It’s very immaculate and that is…that gives a… I just get a lot of appreciation… I like that for myself. But I learned I can’t project that on my family. And so, dishwashers, silverware trays don’t, you know, really see…
Anne: Even bedrooms to a degree, you’re saying, which can be a hard one.
Anne: Yeah, I’m saying and even making your bed every day, you want to teach your children how to manage and appreciate their space, but it needs to be done true to their nature. Don’t make everybody do it the Type 4 way.
Anne: So, as a Type 4, you have a gift and you like to be the authority. You love to be your own authority. So, empower your children in that regard too. Let them be their own authority of their room. And what does that look like? What positive feedback and teaching can you give them to get to that space and then trust them and understand that it may look different than yours.
Carol: Clean and organized is going to look very different in a Type 1 room than a Type 4 room. They’re going to have more…
Anne: And set them up for success, like you said. Easy bed making and easy drawers to put clothes away in.
Carol: Yeah, yeah. We have all that. I mean, it’s all in the book. You just go right back to the book. Just the goal here, again, is to look at this and say, “Where am I projecting this that my children are, even if it’s in a subtle way, picking up on the message, ‘It wasn’t good enough.'” The dishwasher example is a great example because if you go in after your child’s loaded the dishwasher, and then correct them, “Do it this way,” or you do it different, you change it, you’re sending that message, “It wasn’t right. I can never do it right in my parents’ eyes.” Believe me, I’ve met many, many adults that have had a fallout from their Type 4 parent because they always feel the sense of this inadequacy around them that was birthed in their childhood. And it’s unfortunate because the parent could change that. Because no one likes feeling like, “I’m not good enough.”
Anne: And I think maybe in the parents’ eyes, they were like, “I was just trying to help them be the best they could be,” but it…
Carol: Well sure they were.
Anne: …doesn’t match up, right? If that’s not…
Carol: No, that’s why we’re doing this series because these are mistakes you don’t know you’re making.
Anne: Yep. And Type 4s have a very black and white nature, very structured, linear process and so, naturally, you’ll be a very structured human being. You’ll have your plans, you have your big picture. This can become a dysfunction when you’re too structured and you’re trying to put everybody into this box of this family structure.
Carol: Like we mentioned in the Type 3 podcast, that Type 3 mom energy can take over in the momentum, this kind of movement of the whole family of, “Go, go, go, push, push, push.” The Type 4 default is having your family running to your preference for a very structured efficient lifestyle. And you have a tendency to believe that more structure creates more efficiency, which, for you, probably. For your family system at large, as a group of people, not necessarily because we’ve already mentioned that there are certain Types of children, the other 3 that are not your Type, will feel confined, suffocating. It’s just there’s no room for their own expression, their own sort of way of doing it because they’re operating to your system of structure.
And that’s sort of the what I call in my healing work a psychological reversal, when you think something has a productive outcome, when it’s actually creating an imbalance. So, in this case, your thinking process is, “Well, we need more structure. That will create more balance. It’ll correct the problem,” when really, maybe it’s you need less. And you need to take an inventory of where is structure serving you and where is it causing pushback? Where are you getting resistance? Where are you having struggles or where are you having issues with your children that they’re kind of fighting you on it, they’re resisting it? That’s a red flag for you. Where is it a blessing and of service, and where is it causing this stress because they are feeling too structured?
Anne: Yeah, the consistency and the structure could be definitely a gift to your family. It’s those red flags, the stress, the wanting to pull away, the children not, you know, getting grumpy or more whiny or Type 1s acting out because there’s too much structure at home. How would a Type 4 child respond to a Type 4 parent in that maybe there’s too much structure? Do you think maybe they’re like, “You are the one calling the shots and I want to have…
Carol: Yeah, I think so.
Anne: …more independence here?”
Carol: That’s where I see the biggest issues with a Type 4 child and a Type 4 parent is there’s this power struggle playing out with who gets to be the authority, and they’re not being allowed to be their…the child’s not being supported in being their own authority to create their system of structure, and to allow them a experience of learning by the cause and effect of their life, to figure things out on their own, to empower them that way. So, with each Type child, structure has a benefit and it also can play against their nature.
Anne: And like we said in the Type 3 moms’ podcast, make sure that you have an outlet for this gift. So, as a Type 4, where can you create that structure and that refining process?
Carol: Independent of your parenting process.
Anne: Yeah, mm-hmm. Do you have projects you’re working on? A quiet time or solitude time, or time where you can exit the home or stay at home and be in your room, but your children are taken care of. And just making sure that you have this balance so that you are able…you’re not just like, “Okay, I’ll just give it up, and I won’t be that way anymore.” You’re just kind of compartmentalizing where you will play that out.
Carol: Yeah. Great idea, Anne. This week’s parenting practice is to look at each of these three tendencies and where do you see yourself needing an opportunity to make some changes, so you can use these tendencies as gifts and assets in your life rather than causing dysfunction and imbalance? Because I know as a mom, Type 4 mom, you really want to do your mom job the best you can. So use this as information to check yourself, to take your own personal assessment, and make the changes that will support you and your family.
Thanks for listening. For more support, go to thechildwhisperer.com where you can purchase the book, subscribe to our weekly parenting practice email, and find the transcription and audio of “The Child Whisperer” podcast.
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