It is never more important to understand your child than when they are heading into their teen years. And our biggest fears are around their ability to make safe and just decisions.
According to the Myers-Briggs personality indicators there are two dichotomies that we use to make decisions – either through our Thinking Personality preferences or through our Feeling Personality preferences.
‘Thinking’ comes down to our need for competence, whereas ‘Feeling’ comes down to a need for harmony. When we talk about teens these indicators are really important in their relationships with their peers rather than looking at harmony with their family 😉
The reason that all teens make silly, or inappropriate decisions comes down to the strength of their preferences for Thinking and Feeling.
We all hear about teens just ‘going along’ with their friends cause they didn’t want to be teased, or miss out, or not be a part of the group. This is a Feeling and need for harmony decision making preference.
The other thing with teens is the competitiveness, and competence issue – the need to drink the most, stay up the longest, be the fastest, the skinniest, the most popular, have the best car …… etc etc. The strength of the Thinking preference.
In both of these examples, we can see where things go wrong, words like suicide, alcohol, drugs, anorexia, bulimia, bullying, drink-driving (either the driver or the passenger) ….. We only need to turn on the news at night to see examples of these bad decision-making scenarios.
What is the solution?
This is where knowing your child’s personality preferences is really important. If you know what decision-making preference they adhere to the strongest, you can help funnel this need into safer and more appropriate channels. The other side of this is to teach them the opposite of the natural preference so that they are more rounded, and not always completely running on instinct.
The biggest gift we can give our teens is the ability to be well-rounded – to be able to make decisions based on both their Thinking and Feeling abilities, while focussing their preference in a healthy way.