I rolled my eyes the first time I heard all the hype surrounding the Enneagram. As more and more friends talked it up (and as FOMO set in), I decided to give it a try. Well, of all the “personality quizzes” I’ve ever taken, none has been as liberating as the Enneagram. Broken into “types,” the Enneagram describes nine different motivations a person can have. It is a useful tool for understanding yourself and those around you.
I am a type 5, also known as the Investigator. With the Enneagram’s help, I’ve learned that I desire to be competent and value learning a lot. Learning the Enneagram has also been helpful in showing me why I do what I do when I’m stressed—a big plus as a mom. As I’ve felt the benefits of knowing my number, I’ve wanted to apply my newfound knowledge to help me understand the Enneagram for kids. If you’re an Enneagram fan, I’m sure you’re tempted to learn your child’s number. But is learning your kid’s Enneagram number helpful or hurtful?
1. You could box your child in.
We must be careful that we don’t accidentally impose a certain type on our kids that isn’t their own. We inadvertently could box our kids in and make them feel stuck as a certain type. Pressuring our children to grow into one type is like fitting them into a mold they weren’t born for.
We may want our children to grow into certain traits, but we must steer clear of drawing any hard lines and assuming we have their types figured out. Instead, keep an open mind and be content with who your child is becoming. Embrace that your child may be different from you. That will keep the door unlocked to discovering who your child is.
Embrace that your child may be different from you. That will keep the door unlocked to discovering who your child is.
2. You could mistype your child.
We can only try to type our children based on their outward behavior. We cannot see their inner thoughts and motivations. Even if we think we know our child really well, there is no guarantee our point of view is correct. If we assign one type to our kids, we may begin treating a child a certain way that correlates with that certain Enneagram type. We may even begin assuming we know what our children’s intentions are without hearing them out.
Even worse, if we begin perceiving the things they do as “unhealthy,” we might resort to unnecessary discipline. It would be best to become familiar with a few of the Enneagram types your child shares traits with. Be flexible enough with him or her so you are able to foster your child’s strengths and help in his or her weaknesses.
3. You could place unrealistic expectations on young children.
As a result of trying to type our children, we may begin to place unrealistic expectations of self-awareness and growth on them. Children are malleable, so these expectations can cause inner confusion. It also can cause parents to become easily frustrated with their children when they don’t act the way we want them to.
Christopher Heuertz, author of Sacred Enneagram, says it best: “Parents do better to focus on their own type and how it affects their parenting commitments rather than typing (or mistyping) their children—a mistake that could have agonizing consequences.” Let’s lay our expectations down and watch our children flourish into who they are meant to be.
What have you learned about the Enneagram for kids? What are some ways we can help our children become who they were created to be?