Parenting Your Life-of-the-Party Child

My youngest and I lay side by side in his bed after saying nighttime prayers.  The lights are dim enough to display the glow-in-the-dark stars stuck all over his ceiling accompanied by the projected stars from his glow-at-night turtle.  He sees beyond those stars, my boy whose head is always a bit above the clouds.  Endless possibilities fill his mind when he should be settling in for sleep.  “Mom,” he says, “what if we make a treehouse with a pulley and a zipline and I invite all my friends over?  Can we all sleep up there together?”  I’ve learned – from him – that “no” answers or stated practicalities are like anvils falling onto the dandelion puff  of his dreamy imagination.  I say my stock answer, “We’ll see,” and add, “It sounds lovely.” 

If my son’s nighttime musings sound familiar, chances are you have a Sanguine child.  If you are just joining us, this is the third post in our series considering how we parent our children by examining their unique personality.  Today we’re talking about Sanguines, also known as “happy-go-lucky,” “influencer” or “life of the party” personalities.  The nickname coined by Gary Smalley to describe this child is “Otter.” 

Otter By Mike Baird from Morro Bay, USA [CC BY 2

Just as we mentioned when we were talking about our natural born leaders, the life-of-the-party child has strengths and weaknesses.  Like everything else with this child, both their assets and their weaker traits are larger than life. 

Sanguine Strengths & Weaknesses

Have you ever met a grown man who had such a boyish way about him that you could immediately picture him as a young child?  This sanguine personality tends to maintain their cuteness all through life.  The joie de vivre never ends with the sanguine. 

Highs are high and lows are low.  The life-of-the-party child becomes easily emotionally attached and sees life through the lens of feelings.  They get extremely excited about their big ideas – and equally excited about yours.  Competition doesn’t come naturally to the sanguine.  They just want everyone to have fun.  Their ability to include others is unparalleled.  They seem to have fifty closest friends.  Because of their winsome nature, people are drawn to them and want to be a part of what they are doing.

Paul on Beach

On the downside, what they are going to do can be very visionary without a lot of practical plans or actions to follow through.  The sanguine tends to be disorganized and often downright messy.  I sometimes refer to my sweet sanguine boy as “Hansel and Gretel.”  Wherever he goes you will find a trail of dropped objects, unfinished projects and “creations” which are precious and must be kept forever.  The capacity for clutter is unparalleled. 

One of the key character development traits we are working on with my sanguine is “order.”  It doesn’t come naturally for him to think things through, locate items which are missing {because that would require putting them away where they belong}.  We made him a picture flip chart of morning routine activities and put it on a little ring.  When he finishes one task, he flips to the next.  That helps him go through his morning without missing a step.  It also inculcates independence rather than stirring up parental nagging or frustration.  We also purge regularly.  We have him choose what to release.  We set guidelines: “You can keep three of those,” or “If that doesn’t have a home, it can’t live here.”

Thankfully the sanguine is not usually nearly as strong willed as the choleric child, so they flex with you, though you may go through a 15 minute session of {loud} crying in the process if you ask them to release something that matters to them.  If you parent a sanguine you are used to both: loudness and tears.  Remember their capacity to attach.  All things and people are precious, welcome, deserve a spot.  When you throw out an old scribbling they did a year ago, you are taking a piece of them.  Let them be the one to choose and when possible make it into a game.  

Chef Paul

Fun!  Fun!  Fun!  This child breathes fun into everything they do.  Fun is a great motivator for the life-of-the-party child.  If you want them to do something tedious like dust the living room, it helps to put on music, make up a contest or hide coins around the room so they can find them as they dust.  I know not every task can be made a game {despite what Mary Poppins says} but when possible it helps.  We do make a point of having our sanguine son do some difficult and slightly “dry” tasks so he learns to subdue his need for highly engaging activities.  Use wisdom to build endurance several times a day, but make sure your primary approach with this child contains two elements: fun and people. 

The sanguine child loves to talk {or when they grow up, to write blog posts that are way too long for the attention span of the average reader}.  Wordiness is a gift, but it needs to be shaped.  The sanguine needs to learn to take turns talking, to use a quieter voice in appropriate settings and to give up interrupting.  You can have discussions with your sanguine child about these habits of conversation and then give them prompts as they go about their day to help them be aware when they slip into dominating or cutting in without waiting for the other person to finish their thought. 

As with any other personality, as your child ages, it is helpful to make them aware of their strengths.  Celebrate these.  Remind them these are gifts from God to be used to bless others.  Draw them out.  Also inform them of their weaknesses so they can work along with you in overcoming these with opposing habits.  Treasure each child according to the unique design God gave them.  If you have a delightful sanguine child, I don’t have to remind you to enjoy them.  Their very presence in your life will be a regular source of joy. 

I hope you are enjoying this series on parenting your child’s personality.  Join the conversation by leaving a comment below or on the Hearts Homeward Facebook Page.  In the next post in this series I will be sharing about the Go-With-the-Flow Child. 



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