What parent hasn’t wished they could get inside their child’s mind to know what they were thinking? The Enneagram won’t make you a mind reader, but it will help you understand why your kids do the things they do and what they need from you as a parent to help them thrive.
The Enneagram is an assessment tool that identifies the internal motivation of nine distinct personality types and how they relate to one another. When viewed through a biblical lens, it gives valuable insight into how God created each of us uniquely. Used in parenting, it provides valuable insight that boosts your ability to nurture your child’s unique personality and help them succeed in relationships and life.
What to know before using the Enneagram for kids.
Even the most intuitive parent can’t be sure of the internal motivation of their child. That’s why it’s best to resist assigning specific types to children – something only they can do when they grow up. Instead, use the Enneagram to watch for potential personality styles that help you better understand and relate to your child.
As you gather clues, keep a healthy sense of curiosity and stay flexible about what you observe. When you see traits that seem to indicate a particular type, try responding in a way that resonates with that type. If successful, add it to your parenting tool kit. If not, keep watching for ways your child may tell you how they see themselves.
How Enneagram styles show up in children.
The following is adapted from The Enneagram of Parenting: The 9 Types of Children and How to Raise Them Successfully by Elizabeth Wagele.
1 – The Reformer. Ones have a strong desire to do the right thing and are conscientious, hardworking and responsible. They may experience anxiety or hold back negative emotions, believing “good” children don’t get angry. Encourage them to play and be silly, help them accept that mistakes are okay, and listen with empathy when they feel disappointed in themselves or others.
2 – The Helper. Twos have a natural ability to help and try hard to please others by being kind and compliant. Sensitive to disapproval and criticism, they need to know they are loved for who they are. Notice and thank them when they clear the table or care for a younger sibling. Encourage them to take time for themselves and teach them how to be more direct and assertive about their own needs.
3 – The Achiever. Threes love it when people feel proud of them. They are busy, active goal-setters who need to hear applause when they put on a play for the neighbors or write a good paper. Their need to achieve can lead to stress and fatigue, so be sure to build rest into their schedules and help them balance their desire to impress others by discovering and pursuing their own interests.
4 – The Romantic. Fours are creative, noticing small details and finding meaning in the world around them. They have big feelings that can create family drama and cause them to feel misunderstood or like they don’t belong. Help them feel seen and heard by encouraging creativity and listening carefully to their feelings while remaining objective and calm. Don’t take their outbursts personally, and model healthy ways to manage intense emotions.
5 – The Observer. Fives are bright, curious, and love learning. They have independent minds and ask a lot of questions. It wouldn’t be surprising to find them alone in their room reading during a family gathering. Honor their need for quiet space to think and learn while helping them make time for having fun with family and friends.
6 – The Questioner. In their quest for security, sixes can seem either shy and fearful or aggressive and fearless. They tend to worry, take extra precautions and feel more comfortable with order and predictability. Practice patience and understanding when they shed tears on the first day of school or call in the middle of the night to be picked up from a sleepover. Introduce change slowly and provide structure and clear limits to help them feel secure.
7 – The Enthusiast. Sevens are charming, confident adventurers who love to have fun. They can grow bored quickly and may have a hard time focusing. They need to know you enjoy being with them, so go on adventures together, laugh at their jokes and turn the drudgery of chores into fun. Their confidence can cover up hurt feelings or anxiety. So, offer consistent care and concern for their feelings and help them learn the skills needed to stay focused and resolve conflicts.
8 – The Challenger. Eights are independent, exuberant, and have inner strength and a fighting spirit. They look out for their friends and defend those who can’t protect themselves. Eights like to take charge and might have trouble controlling their anger. Set healthy boundaries and help them find positive, constructive ways to channel their energy, like getting outdoors and moving their bodies.
9 – The Peacemaker. Nines try to avoid conflict and maintain harmony. They tend to give in to keep the peace, fearing others won’t like them if they disagree. Nines can feel responsible for making sure everyone else is okay or go along with a peer group making poor decisions. Encourage nines to share their thoughts by giving them opportunities to speak their mind. Tell them often how valuable they are and how much you enjoy being with them.
Use the Enneagram to grow confident kids and stronger bonds.
Knowing your child’s Enneagram style helps families grow stronger. But the best place to start is by identifying your own Enneagram type and how it influences your parenting style. Understanding how the types within your family interact makes the Enneagram an even more powerful parenting tool.
Using the Enneagram in parenting can help create empathy, improve communication, and strengthen the connection between you and your kids. You’ll gain a deeper understanding of why your kids do what they do and how you can best support and nurture their success by helping them grow into the unique individuals God created them to be.