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Are You Butting Heads With Your Opposite Child? (SJ Mom and NT Daughter)

Little 6-year-old Renee was having all kinds of anxiety issues! In addition to having trouble sleeping at night, she was having anxiety attacks about going to her piano and ballet lessons. At times her fear would turn into full-blown panic and her parents were at their wits end!

I discovered that Renee’s Mom’s type was introverted sensing feeling and judging. She had loved ballet and piano as a child and assumed her daughter would love them too. The solitary activity of practicing piano and then performing for one teacher had been a wonderful outlet for her, but not for her daughter, Renee who was an extroverted NT. Little Renee needed to show the world how competent she was! Since she didn’t like the piano, her heart wasn’t into practicing which meant she wasn’t mastering the music. She feared going to her lessons where she would feel incompetent. It was the same for ballet; her heart just wasn’t in it. She needed an outlet where she could use her imagination and let her voice be heard! When I suggested theater as a possible activity, I was surprised to hear that Renee loved theater, but was puzzled as to why her parents hadn’t put her in it. Because Renee was only six, her Mother was planning all her activities through her own cautious, sensing and introverted lens. Because Renee was intuitive, she needed to exercise her vivid imagination by playing the part of a make-believe character in a make-believe story. Her extroverted side craved the attention of being on stage and her intuitive thinking (NT) core was longing to display her competence.

Getting Renee to clean her room was another stressful and frustrating experience. Her Mother had tried using pleas like, “it would make Mommy happy” and “other kids keep their rooms clean”. These two reasons would motivate a Sensor Judger (SJ) but not an Intuitive thinker (NT). SJ’s want to please and conform, but NT’s do not! They beat to their own drum and will not respond to an emotional plea. In order for an NT to climb on board, the activity or request needs to make logical sense to them. If the Mom would say something like, “You are a natural born leader and leaders need to be organized in order to be the boss! Have you ever seen a boss with a messy office?”

Since an NT more than any other type needs to feel competent and save face, it is important to parent them from their strengths rather than focusing on the weakness you want to change. INTJ guest blogger Jessica writes, “Since Renee is an extrovert, cleaning her room all by herself is probably difficult drudgery. This Mom should stay in the room with her while she cleans. Even if she is just there to remind her where to put things, Renee will love having her there so she doesn’t have to be all by herself!”

Jessica continues, “Also, this Mom should talk about how being organized will help her find toys easier and allow her more playtime. It may also motivate her to know that the only way she can have play dates is to keep her room clean”. An introverted parent needs to make sure their extroverted child has plenty of play dates, even though it may not come naturally to plan them.

Keeping the house in order is a huge priority for an SJ Mom. However, for an NT who doesn’t even notice their surroundings, it is not! Renee is constantly brimming with grand plans she dreams up out of thin air, using unrelated objects and leaving a tornado in her wake of creative enthusiasm. It is important that Renee’s Mom doesn’t value the clean house over letting Renee exercise her imagination.

Renee’s Mom was also frustrated with the lack of tenderness and affection Renee displayed. She had always dreamed of having a daughter with whom she could have a close relationship. I explained that Renee is not purposely being cold but that she is simply not wired for displays of affection. It can be extremely difficult for a parent when their ideal image of parenthood, can’t be actualized through their child. In this Mom’s case, she dreamed of having a daughter who liked the same activities and who showed affection in a similar manner.

INTJ guest blogger Jessica shares “when my mom explained to me (at a young age) that hugs made her feel loved, I jumped on the hug bandwagon! Perhaps asking Renee what makes her feel loved and then telling her that hugs make Mommy feel loved would help bridge the gap some. It would also be helpful for Renee to learn that different people show love differently.”  Physical affection is easier for an NT to display, than heartfelt words, so it is important for parents not to have unrealistic expectations for a lot of deep heart to heart talks with their NT. Start with asking for a simple hug!

For an NT, relating to people doesn’t come naturally. Perhaps more than any other temperament the NT can benefit from learning all about personality. They are very intelligent and strategic. Teach them that people are like chess pieces, if they learn the right strategies, they can win! It may sound cold, but to an NT, who has a very small emotional pool, it can make perfect sense!

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