Monday, July 20, 2009

Mr. Personality

My eleven-year-old son came down from his bath last night and announced that he wanted to take a personality test.

He'd just finished reading Trouble Don't Last, an award-winning book about a young slave escaping to freedom on the Underground Railroad. The book, he said, got him thinking about the question, "Who am I?"

We headed to the computer (never mind that it was past 10 pm), where I typed in "myers briggs online personality test." I'd done a Myers-Brigss test years ago (I'm an INFJ, BTW) and was amazed by how well it captured my personality. I wasn't sure how well an online test would work, or if the test would be accurate with an eleven-year-old boy, but I figured what the heck?

Boy #1 was fascinated. He eagerly answered the questions, pausing occasionally to ask for my input. Seventy-two questions later, we pressed "Score It" -- and learned that Boy #1 is an ENFP.

The descriptions were dead on. An ENFP is an extremly outgoing, interesting, vivacious person. ENFPs feel things deeply and have a knack for sensing the emotional temperature in any room. (I've said this about Boy #1 forever!) They're big picture learners and often ponder the deep questions of life. Among other things, they often make excellent salespeople, politicians and actors.


If I was stunned at how accurately the test nailed his personality, Boy #1 was downright giddy. For the first time in his life, he saw in black-and-white that he is not some kook, some strange kid who's just messed up and confused. He saw that all these things he thinks are "wrong" or "different" about him are simply personality traits -- personality traits that add up to a pretty great person.

He saw his intensity not as a liability, but as part of who he is. He saw his tendency to dream about the future as fully typical of his personality, not as an abnormality.

His personality type is rare; only about 2-3 % of the population are ENFP. Even that made him feel better. No wonder he doesn't know many kids "like him!"

It was a beautiful, wonderful evening. My son learned more about himself, my gut feelings about my son were confirmed and we learned more about how and why different people get along (or not).

I never would have thought of administering a personality test to my eleven-year-old, but I'm so glad I did. Why don't you try it with your own boys? Let me know what you find out!


  1. I did it! I forgot now what I was but it was totally fitting! ( I saved it on our other computer and will share when I remeber) but thanks for posting!

  2. Ok, I didn't do it with my kids, but I'm an ISTP. I remember that same feeling. We did it at work and I just wanted to say SEE?!? This is why I don't talk in meetings, but I have a lot to say if you just ask me! It even had in there that I don't like talking on the phone. Yup! That's me. Normal enough, I guess. But don't we all question that some time or another??

  3. How awesome that you did this together! I retook it and, of course, got the same result as before - INTJ, which totally fits me. It started a great conversation here - Keith had taken it earlier today after seeing it on your blog and Sara and Brett both took it tonight. We have been chatting about it for awhile. :) Thanks for sharing your experience and as always, you are an amazing writer!

  4. Helen -- I wish I was in on those conversations! We'll have to recap next time we get together. Now, I'm off to look up INTJ.

  5. Hey Jenny: Great story. Your oldest sounds like an independent thinker, and we surely need more people like him.

    Will you administer the personality test to your other three boys?


  6. Hi Eric,
    I actually did the test with Boy #2 today. He's an ISFP. I don't think I'll do it with any of the other boys yet, at least not for now. A lot of the questions require more insight and self-knowledge -- and are frankly kind of hard to phrase in three- or six-year-old speak. :)