When Your Child’s Gift Becomes a Challenge

Here are simple tips to set your child up for success

Every challenge is an opportunity to honor your child’s gifts.

If you’ve read The Child Whisperer, you know your child’s unique gifts. But what if one of those gifts turns into a challenge? Maybe your child’s eye for perfection turns to criticism. Or their gift for details turns into worrying.

Carol and Anne help you see how to support all 4 Types of children to express themselves so that everyone in the family benefits.

This episode’s Parenting Practice

Choose one child (only one) who is presenting a disruption in your family. Ask yourself: What situation or opportunity will help this child express their natural movement as a gift, rather than a disruption? Be ready for some family-shifting inspiration to come to you!

Transcript of podcast episode

Carol: I wish I had done this with you when you were 10-years-old. I should have taken you to an office supply store and say, “What tools do you need, Anne?”

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.

Anne: This week’s question, “My husband and I are both Type 4. Our middle daughter is also a Type 4. I think we do a pretty good job allowing her to be her own authority, but, we struggle with helping her realize that her sisters don’t appreciate her asserting her authority over them. How can we help her to honor herself, but realize, others may not like that?”

Carol: This is a great question and that we’re seeing something play out here, that a gift turns into an issue. It’s her gift to be her own authority, and I would suspect that what does it look like being an authority over her siblings? It would probably look like correcting them. Telling them how to do something, or to approach it this way, or a correction, or to, you know, try to…

Anne: Play with the toys like this or do it like this or…

Carol: So, that sense, I think the gift she’s playing out that looks like asserting her authority is the form of she has a gift for correcting, to make things better, because she sees a more efficient way. So that’s a gift in and of itself. It’s really annoying, though, when it’s being applied in a sibling group where it feels like she’s always telling them what to do.

Anne: They haven’t asked or invited that correction.

Carol: No. Nor is it even her role, nor is it even applicable, yet she’s trying to find a medium way to use this gift. And so as a parent, for each of the four types, they come with natural gifts. And if that gift is not being supported in being invested in something, they’ll find a way to do it, and typically, the way they’re doing it can be annoying. Let’s look at a Type 1 child whose gift is to lighten things up. That could look like a disruptive Type 1 child in a setting that’s not really asking for its buoyant energy to be presented, but they’re just trying to lighten things up and to create a lighter atmosphere to make things more playful. In a family setting and maybe at dinner time, it gets to be an issue, because it’s like, “You know what? We just want you to sit here and eat,” and it looks like goofing around. So now they’re just goofing around and it’s irritating.

Anne: And getting in people’s space, and poking, prodding, and trying to lighten it up.

Carol: And so where is it happening in their day-to-day life that they can use this gift in a way that it’s now a benefit? Maybe there needs to be family game night, you know what I’m saying? Like, where do you sit, helping your child establish? Maybe there’s an extra-curricular activity they need to be enrolled in that allows them to express this energy as their gift.

Anne: Or going back to a previous podcast about schedules, are things being too tight that they’re feeling a need to overcompensate the randomness and…?

Carol: That feels so structured and heavy. They’re trying to just lighten up their space, and they’re like, it’s just like, “This kid won’t stop goofing around. They won’t stop moving.” A Type 2 child’s gift is details in planning which can turn into worrying and fretting and needing extra reassurance constantly, because they’re not being supported and set up to create plans for themselves and strategies for themselves. So now they are fretting and worrying, and that can turn into whining, because they need to express this energy, they need to use their gifts in a way that supports them.

Anne: Or over emotions, and so, rather than being there…the emotionally centered type, and so are they now, you know, crying at the drop of a hat? Are they getting… just having these meltdowns where you…

Carol: Where it can look like asking too many questions.

Anne: Or wanting that connectedness and now feeling clingy or needy, and like, “Oh, you’re always on me.” Like…

Carol: Because they have a gift for connecting, and so what can you help that child create in their life, set that up, so they…

Anne: There’s an outlet and a place for expression.

Carol: Maybe they have a couple friends over and they help the group connect.

Anne: Maybe they’re planning part of the game night.

Carol: There you go, see? What’s happening in your family that you can enroll each child’s gift to help create the bigger experience? Maybe they need to be given a chance to plan their day.

Anne: Or are they going…

Carol: The tools. Maybe they need the tools to do that. Does your six-year old, Type 2 child have a fun, you know, a practical, day planner? That’s a great investment.

Anne: And an opportunity to share her plan with you and get that reassurance, and that one-on-one time. How dreamy is that for a Type 2 child to make their plan, then have their parents sit down, “Show me your plan,” that one-on-one time talking about plans and expressing their emotion? I think that would do. I have a friend actually, who has a Type 2, 1-year old, and she told me that, “If we don’t sit down and connect, and I give her bottle for 15 minutes, just she and I, the day goes so much smoother. If we skip that step, there’s a lot more distress from her that day. ”

Carol: Just getting all that energies out of balance and it’s being expressed in an annoying way. What about… I wish I had done this with you. You’re 10 years old. I should have taken you to an office supply store and say, “What tools do you need, Anne?” That would have been fun for you.

Anne: Yeah, oh, for sure. I’d probably got the tools myself. I love to make cards for people, so I had my little shop set up with my stamps and my pens and my printer shop.

Carol: She likes those connections.

Anne: Yeah, and I like the details added into making those cards. So what about a Type 3?

Carol: Well, they’re moving things into action, so maybe they’re trying to move things into action in places and scenarios that you don’t want it moving.

Anne: Or they like to push forward, so maybe it looks like they’re pushing their siblings around physically.

Carol: Or they’re getting into trouble because they’re getting into things. They’re not getting outside enough. They’re not using that energy to apply themselves to projects, challenges. What do you do in the case of Katie when she’s…now her push forward determined energy is like really irritating, how do you set her up for success so that energy is applied to something that’s beneficial to her?

Anne: She has a play room where she can play with anything in there, and move it around, and get it out, and draw on her Barbies. Like, there’s nothing in there, there’s no rules in there, except maybe, at the end of the week let’s pick it up, or let’s not get too much clutter in there. And she…

Carol: And you have let her cut her dolls hair, put marker on their faces…

Anne: Yeah, I buy them at the thrift store because I know that this…she’s so rough on her toys. And the rule is they can’t come downstairs. If there is a big trail of toys coming downstairs into the main living area, then it gets stressful for me. So, anyway, she’s set up for success in that she has a space where she can be creative, hands-on, and express that. And so that’s great. She gets outside a lot. We have play dates a lot. I know that she does well with new people in her space. She loves that connection, and taking charge with a new friend, enjoying what she’s got and all her cool things. So that helps with a Type 3 at her age. What about a Type 3 who’s more physical? She doesn’t express that as much, but I know that my Type 3 nephew will push his brothers around.

Carol: He’ll punch and hit and gets very, very physical. Tackle his brother…

Anne: Often, precedes with a grunt. And I’ve actually talked about this with other parents of Type 3, typically, it’s boys, but before they hit, they get this grunt, or this look in their eye. And I’ve seen my sister, Jenny, like, “Stop it,” because she sees…yeah.

Carol: Yeah, there is this… One of the things that’s resolved that is they have now a yard in their choice of home, and they recently moved a couple years ago, that’s a very large outdoor space with a really, nice, big driveway. And he’s out shooting basket…his back…he’s shooting hoops all the time. He’s outside expelling that energy, and that makes him less, you know, hands-on, punching, hitting because he’s moving, he’s moving a lot, and so…

Anne: I’d say making sure their physical needs are met as well. Have they slept well? Have they eaten well? Especially important for Type 3.

Carol: Very much so.

Anne: And if the environment is just too, kind of, placid and calm, like, amping it up with a little bit of music and, kind of, getting intense, a little bit of wrestling, I think, does really well for Type 3s. When we’re have exciting times at our home, when people… Katie loves when the family comes over. We live close to family. She thrives off of that because it’s a more stimulating environment. Me, I like a little bit of quiet time, obviously, as a Type 2, and so finding that balance to create that movement.

Carol: You know, in this case, I don’t know the age of the child, but we have a Type 4 middle child, so let’s assume she is possibly…she’s old enough to be directing, correcting, what’s being seen as asserting her authority on her siblings. So, you know, I’m gonna conclude she’s possibly in grade school. Well, I think, at what point is a child… She likes correcting. She likes perfecting things. What other activity she can apply that to? I even think at the age of like even 10, 11, 12, a Type 4 child that has a gift in a certain academic area could even be a tutor to a 6 or 7-year old. They’re correcting. They’re giving feedback.

Anne: I know a babysitter for some neighborhood kids, maybe not…yeah, 10 or 11 come over and play with the kids and be in charge of them, and help…

Carol: Assert your authority.

Anne: Assert your authority there.

Carol: Be in that role of being an authority. So where can you put them into a project, an activity, a role that they can use this as a gift now?

Anne: Lego is…

Carol: And just let him know, “This is a gift. It works here. Doesn’t work so well here.”

Anne: Talking about it that openly, I think, is great. My brother, Mark, he’s a Type 4. He would get so critical of commercials on TV and you would pick up on that and say, “Okay. Time to go work on your bike. Like, you have a very keen eye and you’re noticing the flaws in these commercials. Where else can we put that to use?” And he would go and he would tinker with his bike, get it perfect, and that’s a great outlet as Type 4. Legos, he loved Legos.

Carol: He is still. He’s 30 years old and you should see the elaborate Lego models he now puts together, because he likes the structure involved and the building and the, you know, fine-tuning.

Anne: They are very structured, that, too.

Carol: Like correction and fine-tuning are very closely related. You’re correcting because you wanna fine tune something. So actually, that’s the better way to see it, is a, “What can this child be involved in so they’re able to use their gift of fine-tuning, making better in the actual application that’s supportive, and not in just trying to find ways to do it?” Give them, support them in ways to do it that’s beneficial. And teach them their gifts. Teach them where this is coming from, and that they have a deep-rooted motive that drives this, so it just needs to be applied in that, which is the most supportive for everyone involved. So they learn about themselves.

Anne: And as a parent, don’t put it all on you to try and figure this out. At the right age, start having these conversations. This is, like you said, this is a gift. Where are some places that you can exhibit and use this gift? And write down ideas together. Come up with ideas together and…

Carol: And for a Type 4 child, you can sit down them and say, “You have a gift for correcting and fine-tuning things. That’s amazing. There’s a real purpose for that, and that’s going to serve you well in life. I’m noticing it’s being applied here. That’s not supportive to the family and the sibling experience. What are some ways we can… What are some other ways you can express this that’s more honorable to yourself? Because I get that you…why you wanna, you know… I see the motive behind here. It’s just that it’s not working here. Where can I help you make it work in your life?” I think they can handle that because there’s no shaming in that. It’s just a redirect.

This week’s parenting practice is to choose one child, not your whole group of children. What’s the one child that’s presenting the most, sort of, disruptive quality that their natural movement rather than being used to be beneficial, being applied to being used as a natural gift is just disruptive behavior? Asked to be inspired, what is an opportunity I can help this child pursue that will allow this movement to be expressed as a natural gift, rather than a natural disruption? That, “Ah-ha,” that inspiration will come to you, and you’re going to have a successful experience, shifting it to be a positive, rather than a negative.

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 a review. If you have a parenting question, please send it to [email protected].


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