I want to begin this article by stating that it is extremely difficult to accurately type a child. A parent who is professionally trained in MBTI may be able to make a decent educated guess to their child’s personality type by observing behavior patterns, but many parents are wrong even at guessing basic personality traits, like extroversion and introversion.
This is because our personality doesn’t fully develop until we’re adults. Children do not begin to develop their auxiliary, or second preferred, function until they are in their teens, and the lower two functions in their stack are relatively immature until they reach adulthood.
So, you think you have an INFJ child?
The first thing to look for when determining your child’s personality type is their dominant function. For INFJs, this function is Introverted Intuition. According to Susan Storm of Personality Junkie:
“This [Introverted Intuition] means that they are always trying to figure out the connections between things, and trying to understand the bigger picture. To them, life is one big puzzle and every piece fits into a larger whole and everything has meaning. They can be very serious about their theories and ideas, and can also be quite whimsical and imaginative.”
INFJ children can appear very confident at a young age. With Introverted Intuition in the driver seat, they often feel very sure of themselves in comfortable and familiar situations. They won’t hesitate to ask questions and will appear very curious and inquisitive. They enjoy spending time alone and are not clingy or overly dependent on parents or friends. Like many introverted children, INFJs are happy to have one or two friends but can keep themselves busy using their imagination for hours.
Since INFJ children rely on their dominant function until their early teens, they often look a lot like INTJ children. The biggest difference will be early signs of Extroverted Feeling development. An INFJ child may start to care more about fitting in than an INTJ child of the same age. The INFJ child will also appear more sensitive, empathetic, and emotional, especially as they get older.
INFJ children often feel different than many of their peers. However, their desire to please and fit in will cause them to use their intuition to determine how not to stand out in a crowd. This usually begins to occur as the child enters junior high.
If you believe your child is an INFJ – congrats! INFJ children are often very thoughtful, caring, and wise beyond their years. However, they may often feel out of place and need attention and guidance in areas that other children do not.
How to care for your INFJ child
INFJs make up only 1-3% of the population, so your INFJ child will likely feel like they have trouble fitting in with their peers. Social INFJ children may be well-liked and even popular among classmates due to their unique perspectives, but they may still have trouble connecting with others in the deep way that INFJs so desire.
Here are four tips for raising a strong and confident INFJ child.
- Respect your child’s introversion. INFJs can be quiet children, especially when introduced to new situations. Be careful not to label your INFJ child as shy, since that word carries a negative connotation. Instead, respect and celebrate your child’s temperament. Compliment her thoughtfulness and curiosity. Understand that she may not appear bubbly or outgoing in many new situations, but once she feels comfortable and accepted her special personality will shine.
- Understand that your child may be highly sensitive. Fifteen to 20 percent of children are born with nervous systems that are highly sensitive to sight, sound, touch, smell, and even energy. Many INFJs also identify as HSP or highly sensitive persons. If you have a highly sensitive INFJ child, know that they will be uncomfortable at loud and chaotic birthday parties and other events until they have time to completely take in the environment.
- Make sure your child feels heard. Children with Introverted Intuition as a dominant function often have trouble communicating in a way that makes sense to other personality types. INFJ children spend a lot of time in their minds, and what they end up communicating is often a small percentage of what they’ve been thinking. If what your child is trying to communicate seems strange or bizarre, continue to ask questions until you have a more complete understanding of where they are coming from. INFJs appreciate truly being listened to, and if you can make your child feel heard, you will increase their confidence and help them learn how to communicate their thoughts and feelings more effectively.
- Teach them that their voice is important. Sensitive and introverted children who have a hard time fitting in with others may choose to be quiet and passive rather than speaking up for themselves. If your child complains of being treated unfairly or you suspect that they are being taken advantage of because of their quiet personality, encourage them to say “no” when they’re uncomfortable and to join in without hesitation when they want to participate. Don’t make a habit of silencing your INFJ child. Make sure he knows that his voice and presence is valued and appreciated.