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My Tot is an Extrintrovert - a Review of Nurture by Nature (Tieger)

By recommendation from my friend Elena of The Art of Making a Baby, I picked up a copy of Tieger and Barron-Tieger's book Nurture by Nature. It is a Briggs-Myers personality resource for children that is meant to help you identify your child's "type," so that you might in theory be better able to parent your child effectively.

The book is divided into two parts: the first provides an intro to the 16 personality types and gives a brief overview of each of them, and then follows with a section on lead and least qualities within each type. The second part breaks down each personality type even further, with anecdotes and descriptions for different ages, and tips on how to better parent that particular type.

I think that if I had a different kid, then maybe I would have found the book more useful. It was easy to read (finished in just a few hours) and organized like a manual, with checklists and diagrams for reference. The book included many anecdotal examples and I loved the differentiation between early childhood, late childhood, adolescence and "crystal ball" future projections for each type. 

Sadly, I found the book most useful for Hubbs because his very strong personality fits handily into one particular type. My own personality is harder to pinpoint because I'm (I think) too biased to be objective in my self-assessment. 

Little L was impossible to categorize, partly due to her age and limited experiences, and partly because at 2.5, I'm just not sure that she neatly falls into any one (or even two) of the types. Is she an extrovert or an introvert? A judger or a perceiver? I re-read every single description three times and seriously, I am still struggling to put her in a category.

The authors suggest that sometimes we innately favour one end of the trait spectrum more than the other, and that's how we should go about selecting the corresponding traits that make up our type (since we can all be "different things" at different times). What happens when one favours both ends of the spectrum in equal measure? What if she sits right in the middle between intro and extroversion? That is the difficulty I've had with this book. If we define introversion strictly as "deriving energy from having time alone," then I'd say maybe; however, the book often describes the "I" types as being quiet, and anyone who has ever met Little L would know that she's anything but that. Likewise with "S" and "N" - Little L seems to like reality-based play and rules, but she also loves a form of "make-believe" that is modeled after what she has seen. And the pendulum keeps swinging back and forth for every trait, making it an impossibility to nail down her "type" with any accuracy.

The only new information I gleaned from this book has been some insight into Little L's preference for rules. It didn't occur to me until recently that she is very rules-oriented, and when she is upset and wanting to do something she shouldn't, like bite, she will cry while saying to herself, "I can't bite Mommy! No biting Daddy!" to self-regulate her behaviour.

I suspect that this might also explain her aversion to other little kids: most of them don't really follow rules, and especially on a playground, it can be quite chaotic with children cutting in line to use slides and running around haphazardly and squealing loudly for no apparent reason. While as an adult I can excuse it as children being children, a little toddler with a penchant for following rules would not be able to understand why others aren't doing the same. Taking turns? To Little L, that would mean that one kid goes up the playground equipment at a time, and said kid would be able to come down the slide before another child starts climbing. In reality, the littles clamber up the steps and monkey bars from every direction at varying speeds, sometimes reaching the top before Little L does, and sliding down the slide before she gets her perceived rightful "turn."

Anyway, the book is by no means a bad resource, and for many parents of older kids, I suspect that finding the "type" for their children isn't such a hardship. There is value for parents of kids with vastly different personalities from their own to read a book like this and come away with a different perspective on how to raise their littles. There just wasn't for me.

PS(A): If you do want to buy this book, might I suggest a hard copy and not the Kindle? I purchased the latter and it was a real PITA to keep scrolling back and forth between sections to read and reread descriptions! 


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