Myers-Briggs for Children: Perceiving versus Judging

Time for our very last Myers-Briggs code: Perceiving versus Judging. This one is about organization and closure – basically, judgers want it, and perceivers don’t. Judgers want things to be finished, complete, settled. They like it when a project has a plan, when things are set out and ready for execution. They feel satisfied and happy when something is over. Perceivers prefer things to remain open-ended, leaving the door ajar for anything that might come up. They prefer to keep as many options available as possible, and the very idea of something coming to a close gives them at least a little anxiety.

Gal Smiley is my perceiver. Just about the worst thing you can do is offer her a choice. The more choices, the more stress – she simply cannot decide. Waffles for breakfast, or cereal? What about muffins, or toast? Yogurt? Cucumbers? Leftover tacos? IT’S TOO MUCH. What if she chooses one thing, and then the other thing would have been better? The best thing I can do for her is just pick and have her breakfast waiting for her on the table.

And when she’s watching TV, she starts to get a little wiggy when a show is coming to a close. In fact, now that she can work the remote herself, she prefers to start a new show from the PVR before the one she is watching actually ends, because closing credits are just about the worst thing ever. Likewise, I can’t count the number of books that she has read up to the last chapter, then stopped reading. STOPPED READING BEFORE THE END. That’s like, total sacrilege to a judger like me. And speaking of books, she’s always got at least five bedtime books on the go – yet another thing that used to drive me up the wall, before I figured out this P/J thing.

The other big thing that marks her as a perceiver is her need to explore – in a rule-free environment. She isn’t interested in your arbitrary rules about right and wrong; she needs to see it for herself. We have learned that it’s only going to end in absolute frustration if we try to constrain her too much. So while we provide a lot of structure to the other kids, Gal Smiley gets a lot more leeway (much to the chagrin of our Captain Of Fairness).

On the other hand, the Captain and the Little Miss are judgers. They like to pick one thing, do it, and finish it, before starting anything else. The Captain in particular will only start a task if he knows he has enough time to see it through to the end; if something comes up and he can’t finish his video game or his book, then it’s a CRISIS. And heaven forbid we try to change a Christmas tradition or our regular daily routine. NUH UH. Not happening.

(I say this and it sounds like I am complaining, but in truth I am ABSOLUTELY the same way, and I totally get it buddy, and glad to have you over here on Team Anal.)

I find it pretty easy to handle the Captain, because he thinks like I think in this respect. I know he likes to know the daily schedule and he likes it when we stick to that plan. He gets stressed out when we are late, as do I. He needs a lot of warning when we are going to change tasks, and a lot of reminders that we are leaving in five minutes. On the other hand, when he gets up in the morning I know for a solid fact that he is going to brush his teeth, and if I ask him if he has brushed he will always, always tell me the truth because not brushing would be breaking with the routine and that is Not Done. He understands when I explain that we need to do ABC now, because later we want to do XYZ, and we need to make time for everything. And when I need someone to make a decision about something, he’s right there for me, taking charge and making it happen.

The Gal is nicely flexible and lots of fun, as she’s very spontaneous. In general, now that I understand how she thinks, I find it pretty easy to handle her as well. But we still have conflict when she asks for “just one more minute” for just about…everything, not caring too much about having to be somewhere at a specific time. And sometimes I get impatient while waiting for her to decide something, already – and I also get impatient when she chooses the very first thing she sees, because she knows that actually looking at and considering all the options is going to be too stressful. This is why I have a LOT of crappy junk in my house that was purchased with birthday money spent on the item closest to the entrance of the store. SIGH.

Still, I’m probably best at managing the differences between the perceivers and judgers in this house. It’s definitely an area where my parenting has improved by realizing the different ways my kids approach the world – both different from me, and from each other.

So there you have it – my thoughts on my kids and Myers-Briggs, in great graphic detail. Now I can make room in that little brain of mine for more Dance! Show! Just when you thought it was safe to come back to my blog.

9 thoughts on “Myers-Briggs for Children: Perceiving versus Judging

  1. nadinethornhill

    I was waiting with bated breath to see what your assesment of Gal Smiley would be for this category. Based on your descriptions of her behaviour in previous posts, I thought ‘There’s a kindred spirit’. And indeed the Gal and I are both ENFPs!

    1. That is awesome news for me! Gal Smiley is the most different from me of my kids and to think she will grow up to be as creative, innovative, strong, and energetic as you gives me a LOT of comfort and inspiration. I’d be proud if she turns out just like you!

  2. Since I’ve been away this week and haven’t had time to chance up on the details, can you tell me what the other 2 kids’ MB letters are? (Nadine kindly summarized Gal’s for me. Just curious about the other two.)

    1. The Captain is ISTJ, and Gal Smiley is ENFP. I think Little Miss Sunshine is ISFJ, but sometimes I think she might turn out to be a “T” instead of an “F” (making her the same as the Captain, which is weird because I think of them as being so different, but I guess that just goes to show that MBTI can’t tell you everything).

      I’m an ISFJ by the way, same as my current best guess for the Little Miss.

  3. Lynn, I’m hoping that at some point you decide to go through the MBTI certification process. From there I can see you being in demand at parenting conferences, running workshops to help parents understand their kids and nurture them in a way that matches their preferences! Imagine if we all had that kind of start to life!

    1. Hmmmmm. I must admit this gives me great pause. I have been giving a lot of thought lately to a job I would like to have when the Little Miss hits school full time. I think I will actually look into MTBI certification, it’s something I am super interested in. Thanks for the awesome idea and vote of confidence!

  4. Pingback: Who do I want to be? (Part 1: Personality) | And The Piano

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