Last week, I interviewed my INFJ mom on her thoughts about raising 2 INTJ kids. This week, the spotlight is on my E/I NTP dad, which is, incidentally, just the way he likes it. As a quick side note, my dad is an ambivert, which means that some days he is more introverted; and other days he is more extroverted. This doesn’t affect his MBTI type much as INTPs and ENTPs have the same functions, the order of the functions are just switched. Anyway, on with the interview.
E/I NTP Perspective
How Would You Describe INTJ Children?
I find INTJ personalities fascinating. Even though both of my children are INTJs, they’re different in many ways. They’ve each got individual perspectives and ways of doing things. Having said that, they understand each other in a very deep and profound way. And, they do have many similarities. The most consistent similarities that I’ve noticed are:
- The need to understand why and how things work
- The need to have systems to frame cognition
- The need to have a reason for doing something
INTJs are curious and deep explorers when they find something that interests them. There are no geekier geeks than an INTJ, and no one more expert than an INTJ who has mastered a topic. The hardest part of parenting my INTJs was trying to figure out the triggers for those deep learning and exploratory tendencies, and then helping them activate them so that we could tap into their true potential.
One of my biggest mistakes as a parent of INTJs has been falling into the trap of trying to get my INTJs to do something in the way that I do it. I say trap because in my experience with INTJ children, I’ve found that when I show them how to do things they don’t want to do in the first place, that undesirable task can easily become my job.
Is There Anything You Wish You Had Known When We Were Young
Exploration is good when your INTJ child is really interested in a subject, but what happens when your INTJ is bored by, or not all that interested in, a topic; and yet, they still need to master it? That’s when things get interesting. INTJs are easy-going people, but when they’re forced to do things they don’t like, or don’t want to do, they can become frustrated and stubborn. Some of the most difficult challenges that we faced in raising INTJ children came not from our kids, but from poor teachers. Take a subject like mathematics, as an example. We’ve all had bad math teachers, right? We’ve all experienced useless and unproductive math exercises. Being assigned math assignments for math assignment’s sake, really drove my INTJs crazy. Of course your INTJ may love math and find it interesting. Yet, we had to identify ways to get our INTJs through the boredom of certain topics so that they could get good grades. This is where systems become helpful. I’ve found that it helps INTJs to have a “game plan” for working through a process. They don’t like to admit that they are competitive, but they are. They like to check off boxes. It gives them a sense of accomplishment. So, when an INTJ isn’t interested in a topic, breaking it down and adding check boxes, can help them focus and work through projects. In most cases, helping them to define and “map out” steps is all they need to get through larger projects. Explaining honestly and clearly why they have to do the stupid thing helps, too. Sometimes INTJ children think that they’re the only ones who believe something is stupid, so if you validate what they are seeing (only do this if it’s true) it helps them not feel that they are missing something. This also gives you the opportunity to explain the system, and to communicate the need to master systems to be successful. Telling INTJs to master the system, rather than complain about the system helps them understand that change can only occur from a place of success. So, I try to re-direct my INTJS’ thinking. I talk about the things they have control over, like their perspective, like meta-thinking. I talk about process, and breaking processes down into individual steps. Most INTJs are naturals when it comes to meta-thinking, and they can do it easily. When presented with a challenge that’s mental and meta, they usually can come up with a fantastic system that they can use to work through most anything.
What’s the Most Important Thing to Understand About Disciplining Your INTJ Child’s Behavior?
As I mentioned earlier, INTJs can be really stubborn. I’ve found that you really have to come at them from a perspective that interests them, to get them to hear you. INTJs need to understand the what, the why, and the overall impact before discipline will sink in. In most cases, once they “get it,” they really don’t need discipline. They are good at self-discipline, so long as there is good reason to change their behavior, they will, and they won’t have to lose privileges to get to that point.
There are times, however, when emotion takes hold. All children, including INTJ children, go cray-cray from time to time. When this happens, it’s best to give them time to think through the situation, and to process their emotions. INTJs can be overwhelmed with emotion or too much stimulation and change. When the crazy sets in, it’s best to give them some alone time to reorient themselves. All introverts need solitude to regroup, and to build up their energy reserves. Often their energy is just shot and they need time to be themselves again.
The important thing to keep in mind is that you are NOT in a battle of wills with your INTJ. You, as the adult and parent, need to be in the understanding and healing mode. Your INTJ hates to be wrong. It makes them feel sick inside. If you can’t help them to self-heal, they may self-destruct a bit. It’s your job, as a parent, to help them help themselves, and to understand the self-system they need to cultivate to maintain good mental and emotional health. INTJs will beat themselves up. A lot. So helping them to understand that they have these strange things called emotions, and those darn emotions can make them feel things and cause them to act differently, can go a long way to helping them understand why they behave differently in certain stressful situations. Just like everything else, INTJs need to understand why, and have a system and plan to work through things. The higher the stress, the more they depend on processes and systems to cope, and to reorient their inner world to reality.
What’s One of the Most Important Things Parents Should Try and Teach INTJ Children
Perfection is impossible. We can’t know everything and understand everything. This is one of the primary reasons we have rules, laws, processes, and systems. When in doubt, follow the system and obey the rules. So long as you’re within the rules and laws, you are free to create and invent. Sometimes rules don’t make sense to an INTJ, and this can suppress their creativity and imagination. Help them to understand other perspectives, so they can make some sense of rules and learn how to navigate around them and use them to their advantage.
Because INTJs are very capable of creating their own rules, as well as rules for others, I’ve found it helpful to convey the sense of responsibility the rule makers must have to accommodate a diverse group of people. Again, getting your INTJ to think about the underlying reasons for certain rules helps them to understand and come to grips with things that might not always make sense. It will also help them to understand the responsibility of making new rules so that they’re fair for most people.
Any Other Thoughts?
Your INTJ is a unique combination of a number of common personality traits. There is no magic formula that applies to all INTJ children. What’s important is for them to be exposed to a variety of experiences, disciplines, and types of knowledge. You just never know what’s going to “hook” them and grab their attention. Which unique combination of topics will your INTJ become an expert in? That’s the question, and that’s why you want your INTJ child to have the opportunity to explore a wide range of systems, beliefs, and topics, keeping in mind that you don’t decide for them. They create from the available inputs. So challenge them to explore and see new things. Help them learn how they can take disparate elements from a variety of disciplines and create value from them. Finally, teach them how to manage themselves and their emotions. I’m lucky that I have an INFJ wife, who is just awesome when it comes to understanding emotions. If you don’t have that luxury, you have to work hard yourself, for your children, to discuss and talk about emotions so that you can help them to develop a system capable of handling what life throws at them.
INTJ children will go their own way. It’s how they’re wired. If they’ve been given the opportunity to explore the world more broadly, they will have an innate sense of what’s right for them. The focus for parents should be on transferring good ethics, teaching good decision-making skills, and on helping to provide a logical framework for an illogical world. Expect them to have a strong work ethic and to understand that they must do well. I’m proud of my INTJ kids. They’re creative, smart, and interesting, as well as good human beings. I don’t think a parent can ask for much more than that.
I appreciate my parents taking the time to share their perspectives on raising INTJ children. Feel free to share your own thoughts on this topic in the comments section. If you missed the first part of this interview, check it out here.