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  1. #1
    Senior Member mwv6r's Avatar
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    Default INFJ parenting an ESFP... Insight from other NFs parenting SPs?

    My daughter isn't quite 2 years old yet but since I'm obsessed with all things Myers-Briggs I've been eager to type her pretty much since the day she was born! Of course it was tough to figure out her type using profiles written to describe adults. I had a feeling she was an S and quite possibly E and P too, but I just wasn't sure. I had been eyeing the book Nurture by Nature which boasts type descriptions for the toddler-age crowd. I finally bought it, and the ESFP toddler description was just so her that I had to laugh out loud.

    I'm so excited to have figured out her type! I have to admit I am a little nervous about being able to meet the needs of my little "social butterfly" whose type is so different than my own. I probably know the least about ESFPs out of any type because for whatever reason I don't really have any close ESFP friends. (Quite a few SJ friends (particularly ESFJs) but no ESFPs and now that I think about it no SPs in general for that matter.) Maybe as an INFJ I come across as too serious and bookish to attract an SP?)

    The ESFP coworkers and acquaintances and distant relatives that I do know are very likeable and laidback and pleasant to work with. I'm an elementary teacher and my ESFP students are usually very good-natured, upbeat, and some of my favorites each year, even if not the best students academically.

    Do any INFJs or NFs out there have insights into parenting or close relationships with ESFPs or SPs in general? I read in the book that ESFP children are often sweet and eager to please but they can also be quite impulsive, so I guess I may need to make more of a point of establishing rules and boundaries than might be necessary with some other types. I know NFs and SPs are opposites of sorts but hopefully she and I will be able to bridge the divide <3

  2. #2
    Senior Member hazelsees's Avatar
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    I have some experience with ESFP children.
    About rules, I would keep those to a minimum. Certainly you must have rules, but choose your battles. That shouldn't be too difficult for an INFJ momma.
    The ESFP kids that I've known are likeable and interested in many things..and usually do well in school until about 5th or 6th grade. In fact, during the preschool ages and early elementary school years, they are often ahead of their peers. They seem to talk early and their vocab is advanced.
    One thing I've noticed at about the junior high years, is they have a hard time sticking to extra-curricular activities or anything really. They just want to socialize.
    I suggest to choose now what areas are the most important to your family when it comes to rules and beliefs--things like that. Choose those things and be firm with them now, but be flexible as much as possible with other, less important things --take them case-by-case.
    I see that you're a teacher. Have you ever done a Love and Logic seminar?
    Also, I get along with ESFPs amazingly well. I'm not sure why, but I do. Sometimes I wonder if it has to do with their inferior function being my dominant function and vice versa.

  3. #3
    Senior Member cafe's Avatar
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    My kids are all 14+ and none are ESFPs to my knowledge, so I probably don't know what I'm talking about but I'd think one of the things I'd do if I was parenting an ESFP above and beyond the normal stuff would be to get them involved in group activities like sports or volunteering, etc. It would allow you to channel some of the physical and social energy, which is something you'll want in place during the teen years.

    I've always been big on explaining things, especially cause and effect, but I'd make an extra effort with ESFPs because I think sometimes they have trouble anticipating consequences. It seems like it would be very important to give them as much freedom as you safely could to experience all kinds of things, including consequences. Keep rules to a minimum as has been said, but be very consistent on the ones you have.

    And try to enlist help so you can have the alone time you need to recharge.

    Edit: I also wouldn't get too invested in the MBTI. Some things change with kids' personalities and some things do not. There isn't any way to predict which will be which.
    “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”
    ~ John Rogers

  4. #4
    reborn PeaceBaby's Avatar
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    I am Mom to a 24 yo ESFP son.

    I did read the excerpt from the book you are talking about and found some of my parenting experiences match and others do not.

    Have you read this link?

    http://www.personalitypage.com/html/ESP.html

    Let me summarize through that list what I found true or false:

    ESP Traits

    They want to do everything in a BIG way - TRUE
    They have LOTS of energy - VERY TRUE
    They love the outdoors - TRUE
    They love animals - TRUE
    They love to participate in sports and other physical activities - VERY TRUE
    They're extremely aware of their environment - TRUE AND FALSE
    They have a strong aesthetic appreciation for beauty - SO-SO
    They need to be constantly busy - TRUE - and usually have several projects going on - FALSE
    They are usually artistic - FALSE
    They love to be the center of attention - TRUE
    They're very practical and grounded in reality - FALSE

    Potential Strengths

    They're generally cheerful and almost always in a good mood - Moods are big, and not always happy
    They're usually popular and well-liked by almost everyone - They have difficulties like everybody else, usually for my son around being too loud
    They pick up on other people's behaviors and attitudes more quickly than any other type - There's an eye for detail that I find others do miss
    They get a great deal of enjoyment out of life, and treat life like a big party - yes, about enjoying life, but no about treating everything like a party
    They have a very good memory for details - VERY TRUE
    They're extremely observant - the most observant of all of the types - TRUE, but not savvy
    They're extremely generous - TRUE
    They like and accept almost everyone - VERY TRUE

    Potential Weaknesses

    Their general acceptance of everyone may make them poor judges of character - TRUE
    They love money - FALSE
    They tend to be materialistic - VERY FALSE
    They cannot see the big picture in most situations - FALSE
    They tend to be thrill-seekers - FALSE
    They may be overly loud and boisterous - TRUE
    They are very impulsive - TRUE AND FALSE
    They do not have the ability to use their intuition at all, or extrapolate anything from one situation into another - hmmm, I don't like this one
    They frequently do not follow through on tasks or plans - TRUE
    They have a difficult time taking anything seriously - FALSE
    They live in the present moment, and have difficulty forseeing the consequences to their actions - TRUE

    As you can see, there's some variability that the generalities don't capture.

    It will take me a little time to formulate my thoughts on this, but I'm uncomfortable with typing at so young an age ... type can be pigeon-holey enough as it is. I imagine you are taking it with a grain of salt though and in that spirit I will try to offer some tips in a follow-up post fwiw.
    "Remember always that you not only have the right to be an individual, you have an obligation to be one."
    Eleanor Roosevelt


    "When people see some things as beautiful,
    other things become ugly.
    When people see some things as good,
    other things become bad."
    Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

  5. #5
    Just a note... LittleV's Avatar
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    Cute avatar! My ESFP aunt is loads of fun, and one of the professors here is an ESFP. There’s no telling which direction they will go, so as long as you’d provide them with warmth, love and support… things should be fine

    Also, kindly give them direction and guidance as they may need it…

  6. #6
    Senior Member mwv6r's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the feedback! Yes, it will probably be a good idea to choose a few hard-and-fast rules to stick to and then be flexible with the small stuff. Now that I think about it, I do that a lot with my SP students--especially my little ESTPs and ISTPs... I love 'em but they really give me a run for my money haha. ESFP children I have found easier to work with, although it sounds like perhaps their challenges arise more in the teenage years. I also get some practice with the stick-with-a-few-rules thing with my husband (an ESTP--forgot to mention in the original post that he is the one SP who I know very, very well lol), so hopefully it won't be too tough. There was a part in the Nurture by Nature book about how ESFPs can be overindulgent with the senses and so early experimentation with drugs and sex could be an issue. I didn't mention that part to my husband when I showed him the ESFP profile, but when I pointed out how similar ESFPs and ESTPs are he asked if ESFPs are likely to try drugs. My husband and his college friends (mostly SPs) did quite a bit of drugs in college (dabbled in everything but heroin), and my ESFP cousin was heavy into drugs/partying for a while. To be fair though, all of the above have landed on their feet and seem to be well-adjusted adults now, so maybe there's no point worrying about things like that since SPs perhaps more than other types need to be able to make their own mistakes and learn from them. But I am a worrier so that is a little tough for me!

    It is so neat figuring out her type after months of wondering. It's not that I think MBTI is the be-all-end-all, and I do take it with a grain of salt, but I think it's a really cool lens for understanding other people and it helps me to get into her head a little bit and see how she experiences the world. Today when I picked her up from daycare, there was a new afternoon teacher and she told me, "Your daughter is SO outgoing and friendly!" Yup, and all those times she playfully engaged strangers at nearby tables in restaurants, or happily gave hugs or kisses to people she had just met, or put on impromptu dancing or singing performances for friends and family, are making a little more sense now! <3

  7. #7
    Senior Member SubtleFighter's Avatar
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    I agree with others that it's too soon to definitely type, but fwiw I have a younger sister who's an ESFP, and almost everyone in my immediate family is some form of SP. I’m not a parent, but I have some experience in education.

    Some thoughts:

    I think one of the hardest things about being in a position of authority over SPs is balancing between the fact that SPs hate being told what to do and that SPs also may need more guidance than others in terms of organization, getting started on tasks, and finishing tasks. Sometimes just being a position of authority is enough for them to go along with what you say, but other times telling them what to do directly is a good way to make sure they will do anything but what you’ve just said. I won’t pretend I have a solid solution for this; I’m just saying what I’ve seen in my experience.

    Some things about SPs that I’ve noticed with my family is that when they agree to a plan, they are agreeing to a tentative plan. Unlike me (and probably most INFJs) who sees a plan as that will be followed unless there is a very good reason to change it, they don’t see it as big deal to decide at the last minute to change plans drastically or even scrap them entirely. They also need more reminders than I do about agreed-to plans. I have found that if I get them to say “yes, I will come to an event” that’s a month away, I will need to text them in two weeks, and then text them the day before again to make sure that they are still coming. Even better is if I can work the event into conversations casually throughout the month to keep reminding them of the event so they don’t forget it and yet it doesn’t look like I’m hounding them. Sometimes I need to remind them even if the event is only three days after they agreed to come. This may seem drastic, but I’ve learned the hard way to do these things after I've shown up to places and they don't come, and I call them only to have them say “Oh, I totally forgot” or “Oh, sorry, but I’m doing something else now.” And this is my family who are all adults now. Kids would need even more reminding of things.

    My sister is an affectionate person and is energetic. She is loyal to the people she cares about. She also wears her emotions on her sleeve and can be moody. For instance, if she is pissed off about something, she will act pissy to everyone in her path whether they have something to do with what she’s angry about or not. I don’t know if this is something that’s common with ESFPs or is just an issue my sister has (although another ESFP acquaintance of mine seems to do this too), but I wanted to mention it because it’s something that has flabbergasted me for a long time.

    I wanted to mention too that even though ESFPs are normally less organized than J types, they can also have random periods of hyperorganization where the tertiary Te comes out. (My mother, an ISFP, has these periods sometimes too.) It’s basically when they want to get something done, and their Te comes out and starts bulldozing straight through everything in their path to make sure it gets done. The ENFPs I know also do this, and it can be jarring.

    The SPs I know are also pretty fun-loving, especially my sister. Fun is usually associated with Se, which I usually like because it brings out my inferior Se. And even though they are capable of thinking abstractly and about the big picture, this is not their preferred topic of conversation. And they will notice all the details that you don’t.

    So I’ve been kind of rambling, lol, but I hope this gives you some insights into ESFPs and SPs in general.

    Edit: I just saw your latest post, and you mentioned drugs. I can’t say if ESFPs in general are more likely to do drugs, but my sister wasn’t ever into drugs or anything dangerous. She does like her alcohol, though, I have to say. But I don’t think anything more than the average person in their twenties. So don’t think that your daughter is doomed to do this . But I agree with you that SPs often need to learn from their own mistakes.
    "Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear."--Ambrose Redmoon

    . . . metamorphosing . . .

  8. #8
    Sugar Hiccup OrangeAppled's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hazelsees View Post
    The ESFP kids that I've known are likeable and interested in many things..and usually do well in school until about 5th or 6th grade. In fact, during the preschool ages and early elementary school years, they are often ahead of their peers. They seem to talk early and their vocab is advanced.
    One thing I've noticed at about the junior high years, is they have a hard time sticking to extra-curricular activities or anything really. They just want to socialize.
    This sounds a LOT like my ESFP sister. Very bright...they wanted to skip her a grade. Did well without trying hard. By HS she refused to take advanced classes because only the nerds were there & she wanted to be with her friends. Socializing & fun trumps nearly everything for her. She has problems with the big picture in terms of anticipating turnouts or foreseeing future implications the way a N type would, especially a Ni type. She sees the big picture because of Fi though - meaning & significance outside of external contexts. This is why few ESFPs I know are very materialistic. They tend to only like money as far as making it easier to have fun & socialize.

    Also, my sister has VERY strong feelings about many moral issues, and in typical Fi fashion, does not readily vocalize them unless experienced as a violation. This can make her look shallow AND dramatic at times (the latter way more true than the former).

    I'd hesitate to type the auxiliary function in someone so young though. The dominant is still differentiating at that age, supposedly.

    On average, ESFPs also often have a very good sense of humor & can be very charming (occasionally manipulative). They can demand a lot of attention/energy & eclipse those around them. That's something to note if you have other kids. My sister demanded so much time/energy/emotion/attention that my mom actually apologized to me once for being drained & having way less to give to me.
    Often a star was waiting for you to notice it. A wave rolled toward you out of the distant past, or as you walked under an open window, a violin yielded itself to your hearing. All this was mission. But could you accomplish it? (Rilke)

    INFP | 4w5 sp/sx | RLUEI - Primary Inquisitive | Tritype is tripe

  9. #9
    Senior Member mwv6r's Avatar
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    Hello, thanks again for the responses! I know many are hesitant to type someone so young, but I'd encourage you to check out the Nurture by Nature book. Only one of the toddler personality descriptions fit my daughter to a T, and that was ESFP. I read every other one that was within one letter of ESFP just to be sure but the only one that was totally her was ESFP. I suppose that ESTP was the second closest but it just did not ring true like the ESFP one, which was full of little details that were just so her. Some of the ESFP toddler descriptions that struck a chord were:

    - bouncy, wiggly, playful and thrive on fun and surprises
    - loving and warm with deep attachment to parents
    - enjoy physical closeness and love to hug, kiss, hold hands, and sit in laps (Charlotte's favorite ritual is bedtime kisses and hugs, and she likes to give out several of each to me, her dad, the dog, and any family and friends (even those she's just met!) who happen to be visiting; when I pick her up at daycare she frequently can be found in her teacher's lap while her classmates do their own thing nearby, and when she sees that it's time to go, after shrieking "Mommy! Mommy!" Excitedly she will often give each teacher and classmate in the room a goodbye hug).
    - highly social and perpetually ready for action and play
    - loves traveling to new places and interacting with people and animals (so her--she is much happier out going places than staying home, and when she meets a new animal she often shrieks, claps her hands, stomps her feet in excitement, and hurries over to play with them -- which of course makes the cats run but the dogs are usually down for some fun!)
    - very observant of her environment (I think she's already more observant than me and will quickly point out and exclaim over paintings and murals on the wall at restaurants that I never would have noticed (I'm inferior Se); I wanted to surprise her one day by taking her to my friend's house to meet her bunnies, but to my amazement, in the one minute while I stood at the door greeting my friend, Charlotte barreled in, made a couple turns and immediately located the bunny cage herself (and of course began shrieking, clapping, and stomping her feet with joy!)
    - 'they may love nothing more than removing all the pots and pans from a low cabinet and banging the pots and pan lids' (this is so her I laughed out loud, she empties a cabinet and becomes totally absorbed playing with its contents almost every day)
    - they love music and singing and dancing as the spirit takes them (numerous home videos of her enthusiastically performing toddler dance moves to whatever song is on)
    - keen body awareness and figures out body skills quickly (often only needs to be shown how a toy works once in order to master it, and loves to try to do my workout videos alongside me--and does pretty well mimicking the moves for a toddler I think!)
    - happiest when they are outside in nature (this is again so her that I laughed out loud... Almost daily she will bring the nearest adult their shoes and jacket, try to get them to put these items on, and then take their hand and lead then to the door as she implores "Outside? Outside?")
    -able to go with the flow and adapt to new situations and new people (when she started at a new daycare, I was worried sick all day at work wondering if she was scared and crying, but when I picked her up her teachers said she 'd had an amazingly good first day with lots of laughs and no tears at all)
    - "Wherever young ESFPs go, the party seems to follow these happy, fun-loving children"--totally her, often described by family members as "the life of the party"

    I actually think people are typable quite young, but the vast majority of type descriptions are written for adults, which makes it tough. When I go to pick Charlotte up at daycare, before she spots me I enjoy watching her and the other kids playing, and I'm pretty sure I've spotted some little SJs and an effervescent and bubbly ENFP with fantastic language skills who loves interacting with each parent who arrives.

    ***

    OrangeAppled, I totally see what you're saying about ESFPs taking a lot of time and energy. She definitely wears me out, and I try to avoid asking her grandparents to babysit her too often because when I come to pick her up they look utterly exhausted!

    SubtleFighter, I'm thinking the moodiness thing may be an ESFP trait because my little ESFP can certainly be a little diva, but she usually saves that side only for mom and dad. It's very common for her to have a fantastic day at daycare with no tears and no tantrums but then when we get home she is a little drama mama with her dad and me! (Her teachers seemed incredulous when I described some of the tantrums and stunts she pulls at home because at daycare she is apparently a ray of sunshine all day long!).

  10. #10
    Senior Member Chiharu's Avatar
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    You might wait on typing her as ESFP. As children we tend to only develop our dominant function (Se for her) and may try out auxillary functions (Fi and Ti, for her). Also, as a young girl, she may seem more feelerish due to social norms for girls. I seemed quite ENTP for a few years growing up.
    Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness." ― Kurt Vonnegut

    ENFP. 7w6 – 4w3 – 1w9 sx/so. Aries. Dilettante. Overly anxious optimist.

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