Turn Your Child’s Weakness Into a Strength

Their tendencies can either be a challenge or a gift

How do you help your child be their best self?

Your child has many natural gifts. But if they get out of balance, those gifts can become challenges. How you coach your child makes all a difference.

In this episode, Carol and Anne help you see how to talk to your child about their gifts. You’ll hear insights to coach your child through their unique challenges so that they become stronger and more balanced in the end.

This week’s Parenting Practice

Take some time this week to coach your child, to acknowledge how well they are using their gifts, and give them feedback on how they can continue to develop their gifts. Instead of disciplining and correcting them, coach them in becoming more aware of who they are and how to use their natural tendencies to benefit themselves and others.

Transcript of podcast episode

Anne: Really? Like, that’s me?

Carol: Like, “Oh no.”

Anne: I’m stuck with that forever?

Carol: Welcome to The Child Whisperer Podcast. I’m your host, Carol Tuttle, author of the bestselling parenting book, The Child Whisperer. I’m with my co-host, Anne Tuttle Brown.

Anne: My Type 3 6-year-old daughter came home from school recently, and with a little bit of an upset look on her face, said, “Mom, my friends say I’m a bragger,” and I kind of…say…

Carol: Did she even know what bragging meant?

Anne: Yeah, I think she did at that point. I mean, they…you know, “You’re such a bragger.” She probably figured it out by the experience if she didn’t know exactly what it meant, and I said, “Well…”

Carol: She just knew it wasn’t a compliment. She felt shaming and a put-down to her.

Anne: Yeah, and she was embarrassed. “My friends say I’m a bragger,” and I said, “Well, Type 3s can be braggers,” and she had this look on her face, like, “Really? Like, that’s me?”

Carol: Like, “Oh no.”

Anne: “I’m stuck with that forever?” And then, I…

Carol: I’m doomed. I’m doomed with bragging and people getting upset at me.

Anne: It was an interesting moment when she…yeah.

Carol: Yeah, I could teach her, you got to learn to live with this, Katie.

Anne: Well, that’s the direction I was headed. It was interesting because in that moment, I thought, “Where am I going to go with this?” And I just decided to go for it. And I said, “Well, Type 3s can come across as braggers,” and then I explained the tendency to her. I said, “Type 3s, you’re very confident, you’re excited about what you’ve accomplished, and you want to show people. And sometimes, that can come across as bragging. So here are some ways that you can manage that.”

Carol: So the good quality, the honorable quality is you have a natural sense of confidence, she likes to accomplish things and…

Anne: You’re excited about what you’ve done.

Carol: …because you’re so passionate about what you’ve done, you just, you’re sharing it with that passion because it’s just important to you. You value it. It’s something you really value. So that was the honorable quality.

Anne: With the Type 3, you’re so… Yes. And with the Type 3, you’re so focused on that result that I think it comes across more strongly as bragging because you’re not, like, praising someone else’s. You’re like, “Look what I did. Here it is. The result.”

Carol: Right. So you basically…

Anne: You focused on what you’ve created so much that I…

Carol: You outlined her positive quality and then taught her how it can be interpreted because there are some missing pieces. Like what… So the quality itself is a good thing. It’s a gift. That’s her natural gift.

Anne: Part of who she is. And so I asked her while I was explaining this to tell me what had happened and she said she had drawn a picture and she did it so much faster than all of her friends. And her friend said, “How do you like mine?” And she said, “Well, I’m already done with mine.” She kind of just focused on hers or picked up her picture and showed it to everybody, “Look how fast I am. I’m all done.” And that’s when her friend said, “You’re bragging.” And so then I gave her some tools to manage this. I said, “Show what you’re excited about, but praise your friend as well, or tell a teacher or a parent and they can just go there with you.”

Carol: Did she understand that?

Anne: Yeah. And she actually came home the next day and said, “Mom, my friend showed me and I said, “Wow, that looks so good. Look at mine.” And so there’s still the opportunity. I told her like, “You can still show, but make sure that you’re praising other people’s too, and that will make it feel just more polite and excited about others.”

Carol: And to include her efforts without making it seem like, “Mine’s better than yours,” because that can happen as well. So each Type has a natural gift. They can be shamed by their peers and it can be annoying to their peers. So the Type 1, fun-loving child because of their exuberant nature and their excitement and their high movement can be told they’re hyper. Even your Type 1 child may have heard that from a peer, “You’re so hyper, it’s so annoying.” You know, you…maybe a Type 4 child, a student or someone that they know gave him that feedback cause that’s…

Anne: And ironically, that’s what their friends love them for, but…

Carol: Yeah, interestingly, where the Type 4 child isn’t oriented to that, doesn’t have a reference point for it. So now that becomes…

Anne: The movement?

Carol: …yes. Like, cause they wouldn’t act that way ever. So that could come out from them. So that’s an opportunity to now teach your Type 1 fun-loving child, “You have a higher movement, you have a buoyant quality.”

Anne: Animation.

Carol: “How you move through life, you get very excited that the…

Anne: You’re like…yeah, you can be silly.

Carol: …you speak what you’re thinking in the moment. It doesn’t always come out so it makes sense.

Anne: I can think of like a Type 1 in a class setting, being, you know, just kind of silly and excited and hyper. Two different…

Carol: You’ll have a tendency to…

Anne …two varying degrees, you know.

Carol: …change your focus quite easily. These are all great qualities and in certain settings, they could come across as irritating to people. So again, now you’re giving that point of reference to say in some scenarios, that needs to be managed. How do you now add some tools? What would you tell a Type 1 child? Just like you gave Katie some tools, what tools could you give a Type 1 child?

Anne: I would talk about when, what situations are they being, you know, are these comments being made? It’s probably not at recess because that’s where it’s a time to have fun and kind of just be more playful. So are the comments when it’s not invited more and like when it’s supposed to be more focus time. And so just managing the timing of it and they can be a really funny person if you help develop that.

Carol: I’d also tell him to be aware, mindful of which friends appreciate it in them and which children seem to have a lack of reference to it and say, “Well, make sure, you know, you choose your friends so that you’re supported. Make choices in your friends so you feel supported by your friends.”

Anne: I would also…are they doing most of the talking and, you know, are they taking over…is there movement taking over? Like, in this scenario with Katie it was, “Well, praise your friends too.” And a Type 1, are you letting your friend engage in the movement as well or is your movement taking over? So just…

Carol: You’re including them, are you letting them talk?

Anne: Be a detective…

Carol: And letting them share their excitement.

Anne: …of when this scenario is happening and then kind of like, “Oh, okay, here’s some ideas to resolve it and you’re in…”

Carol: And you can start teaching this by the age of 4 or 5 and it…

Anne: And then role-play the situation. That’s always a fun thing to do.

Carol: Role-play it. Now, Type 2 sensitive child may get some feedback that will feel shaming that they’re scaredy-cats or they’re nervous or, oh, what, because they’ll hold back or they’ll hesitate and they’ll be shamed for that and told, you know, “You need to be more willing to do things.” And so as they understand that their nature is to wait and become more familiar and to move at their own pace, familiarity creates safety and permission for a Type 2 to move forward. The more familiar they feel about an experience, the more they can choose into it. So there’s some preempting that in scenarios that are new to them that you can preempt their experience by saying, “Let’s practice this. Let’s imagine you’re in this setting. What would you do?”

You could take that. If something shows up at school or with friends that feel shaming to them, you can role-play it and make sure you ask them, “How do you feel about this? What would feel safer to you? What would feel comfortable?” and let them bring that to mind? Their hesitation comes from kind of being caught like a deer in the headlights, like, “I don’t know what to do,” so they’ll just shut down. And so, the more awareness, the more awareness creates familiarity. The more familiarity they have, the more they can move forward feeling comfortable.

Anne: I’m thinking of how I had friends through my elementary years as I would have one best friend for like one or two years at a time because they were more familiar to me, and it wasn’t like skipping around in different groups. I was just like, “That was my friend and I do things with,” and I think as a Type 2, that’s probably the case, is where you find that person that you’re really comfortable with. You’re having fun with and you’re more familiar in that scenario.

Carol: Type 2s really thrive on being reassured, give them lots of reassurance and teach them that they can give them self-reassurance in any setting to say, you know, build their confidence and trust themselves and really believe in themselves. Your Type 4 child could be hearing they’re a know-it-all, that they’re correcting people, that they’re taking the position of authority with peers, that they have something else to add that makes it sound like they know more than everyone else. And so…

Anne: They’re first to answer a question every time or correct somebody or give feedback to another student.

Carol: You need to tell them they’re a more serious child, that they have an intellectual connection. They’re very thought out. They have a very strong thinking mind and there’s a very good chance they do know the facts, even more than others. That they are more informed, that they have a perspective that is more accurate. Validate all of that, and is it always appropriate to share that? Is it always necessary? And again, just like you’re teaching, the Type 1 and the Type 3 child, is this the setting for that? Is this the setting for your Type 4 child to correct? They need to learn that it’s enough for them to know it and it doesn’t always need to be voiced.

Anne: Yeah, learning the discernment of when to share and not to share.

Carol: Yes, in fact, I would tell your Type 4 child to look up the word “discernment.” “I want you to go look up the word ‘discernment.'” You know, if they’re not… I think even a 5-year-old Type 4 might not figure that one out. I’d Google that or have them Google it on your phone right there and read it with them together and say, “Okay, explain to me what is discernment? What does it mean?” Well, it’s being aware of a situation and making a judgment, a decision in that situation that’s beneficial. And you want them to be favoring themselves in a way, so do you…you know, we don’t want to bring upon ourselves these judgmental opinions of others. And this is unfortunately how people don’t know what we know or understand us the way we do, and so you need to be discerning in situations to know when to share and what to share and what’s appropriate and honoring of other people. Respect is a big deal in their world and it’s teaching them how to respect others so they receive respect back. And when you talk it all out with them in that manner, they’ll understand and they’ll be motivated to go…

Anne: To really perfect that skill.

Carol: Yeah. They’re not necessarily motivated by the fact they want more friends, see? They have a different motivation than a Type 1 or a Type 3 child, you know, their motive needs to be “This is reasonable and it makes sense.” And when they have that understanding of something, they’re motivated.

Anne: Another idea is that they could just write it down, like, what they’re feeling, so if they’re feeling, you know, like, frustrated about something and it needs to be done a different way or this person didn’t get it right or have a time where they can come and talk to you, and it can just be like a listening time. So they are able to express and get that out and talk about it in a supportive environment.

Carol: I don’t think I’d make your Type 4, More Serious Child role-play it.

Anne: Maybe on their terms, “So, would you like to?”

Carol: I don’t know, they’d rather talk it out.

Anne: Yeah, that’s true.

Carol: And what would you do differently? It’s more of an analytical process. It’s…

Anne: And then invite them to follow up with you the next time it happens, and their progress. I think that one is something that they’re excited about.

Carol: This week’s parenting practice is to take some time this week to coach your child, to acknowledge how well they are using their gifts, and give them feedback on how they can continue to develop their gifts. Instead of disciplining and correcting them, coach them in becoming more aware of who they are and how to make their gifts a benefit to themselves and others.

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 a transcription and audio of the “Child Whisperer” podcast.

Anne: If you’re listening on iTunes, thank you for leaving your review. If you have a parenting question, please send it to [email protected].

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