INTJ - The Scientists
Ages 5 to 10
Once INTJs begin school and learn the skills to more fully express their many creative ideas, they can really begin to demonstrate their artistic talents and unique vision. Most INTJs love the arts, creative writing, and dramatic play. They are natural inventors and often enjoy making scientific experiments. They are best at open-ended projects that allow them to work on their own and are usually much more interested in designing and starting projects than engaging in the maintenance phase that comes later. They love learning and absorb new information and complex ideas with amazing speed. What comes across the clearest during their school years is their high energy and creative approach to things that interest them and an almost startling lack of energy and even laziness about things that do not. The disparity in the quality of their creations and their schoolwork is dramatic. There's no doubt which subjects are their favorites.
- Ten-year-old Louis was fortunate that his father was also an INTJ. His father understood very well how much Louis loved reading and science and yet how much he hated doing book reports or writing out reports on his science experiments. His dad explained that for Louis, the best part was gathering the information and drawing conclusions about it. Louis felt exasperated that when the teachers required him to write it all out, they, in effect, made him do the work twice. Once he'd formulated the conclusion and had seen the connections and implications, he was no longer interested in the project. It felt like torture to have to repeat his thinking.
Above all, INTJs are independent people of the highest order and may spend much of their lives in their own world, working to meet their own high standards. It is of little or no importance to them if other people are pleased with their accomplishments. Prone to perfectionism, they are highly competitive with themselves and must meet or exceed their own ideals to be satisfied. All the praise and glory in the world from others will not alter their opinion of what they've done. They are amazingly unaffected by the outside world.
While INTJs tend to prefer playing one-on-one with a special friend or playing alone, many will join groups like Brownies or Scouts because of the many varied arts and crafts projects that are offered. Their love of art and design drives them to be a part of organizations they might not ordinarily wish to join. They can be gifted writers and storytellers and are usually voracious and eclectic readers, loving fairy tales, fantasy stories, and science fiction or studying a variety of different subjects in amazing depth.
- Lee liked making things out of clay. He worked happily, and alone, for hours, creating beautiful, imaginative fantasy characters. He once invented an entire make-believe civilization with his best friend, complete with detailed drawings of costumes, housing, and a list of the codes of behavior and customs of this world.
- Ariel began to design clothes for herself in elementary school and wanted to design and sew a dress by herself when she was ten. At first her mother was skeptical of her ability to do it, but Ariel insisted she could. In the end, Ariel was right, and she surprised her mother with her obvious talent and advanced skill. Ariel loved the challenge of taking on projects that were supposed to be too hard for her. She seemed to compete with herself on everything.
Many school-aged INTJs enjoy keeping a journal or writing plays or poetry. While some enjoy dramatic performance, most find being the center of attention uncomfortable and embarrassing unless they are totally prepared and completely comfortable with their level of confidence.
INTJs are fascinated with global issues and enjoy theoretical discussions and debates. They can surprise adults with their ability to expand on just the tiniest bit of information. They are often described as having big ideas and are comfortable disagreeing freely and articulately with others on issues of values, morals, or beliefs. While they are curious about the big questions like death and the existence of God, they are typically skeptical of pat answers and religious dogma. If something doesn't make sense to them, they simply don't accept it. They are naturally very logical, convincing debaters. Confident of their positions and intellectual abilities, they often have amazing stamina to argue with their parents indefinitely.
The Joys and Challenges of Raising School-Aged INTJs
One of the most outstanding aspects of INTJs is their unique perspective and creative perception. They see the world in such interesting and different ways that they can be sometimes difficult to understand or relate to. Their humor tends to be rather dry or wry, which reflects their love of things that are new or unusual. But they are complex people and have a low threshold for outside stimulation. Once they've reached it, they tend to freeze and block out any more incoming stimulation. Many INTJs need a lot of time alone, especially after a busy and invariably social day at school. Remember that the favorite place for INTJs is inside their own minds, and they often need to close the door on the outside world to center themselves and plug back into the source of their inspiration and energy.
Another central characteristic of INTJs – their strong individualism – can pose a tremendous challenge. Parents of INTJs can take pleasure from the strength their children possess, their clear and immutable sense of themselves, and their unfailing faith in their vision of how things should be. INTJs possess an independent spirit that children of some other types don't develop until well into adulthood, if ever. They are rarely persuaded to do things they don't want to do or don't believe in. This can be an obvious challenge if you are the parent and have something you want your INTJ child to do, and he either does not want to do it or at least doesn't want to be directed from what he is doing at the moment. INTJs may also be hesitant to pursue something unless they can do it in depth. It just doesn't seem worth the effort if they have time to give something only a cursory study or a superficial treatment.
- When eight-year-old Aaron's friend Charlie came over to play, Aaron's dad was surprised that he left almost immediately. He asked Aaron if they'd had a disagreement, and Aaron said, 'No. I just realized we'd only have about thirty minutes to play and it didn't seem worth it. So I told him I'd see him later.'
The same tendency towards stubbornness and independence can actually be a source of comfort to parents when they realize that their child is much less likely to be talked into dangerous or inappropriate behavior. Not that INTJs can't get into plenty of trouble on their own, but usually it's of their own initiation rather than a result of just following the crowd.
- Hunter was never disturbed by the criticism he heard from others. He was always perfectly clear about what he wanted and determined in his effort to go for it. Hunter's parents knew that it was difficult to get him to do anything that wasn't part of his agenda. He resisted household chores and might act lazy about straightening his room or putting his clean laundry away, but he was single-minded in his drive to follow an inspiration of his own.
- Tricia really hated riding to private school on the bus because there were so many rowdy and obnoxious children on it. When she asked her parents if she could take the city bus (which followed the same route and schedule), her parents initially refused because they had already paid for the private bus as part of the tuition. Tricia offered to pay for the public bus herself and accepted a regular set of chores to earn the money.
Because INTJs make decisions based on what is logical, they have a strong sense of what is fair and really dig in if they think that they have been unfairly accused or misjudged. They have such a strong need to be right that they just can't back down or admit they have made a mistake. The more they are pushed, the more they resist. The best and sometimes only solution to this tug of war is to give the child time alone. After a cooling-off period, INTJs can sometimes see that they were hasty with a decision or inflexible about a position and then reassess their earlier behavior.
- Elaine was indignant when her mom suggested that an overdue library book was somewhere in Elaine's room. Elaine protested vociferously that she was sure she'd already returned the book and the library must have lost it. She was unwilling to help her mother look through her bookcase or search around the house for it. She was very angry when her mother concluded that because the book was probably lost, they would have to figure out who was responsible for paying for it. Elaine stomped off to her room and refused to discuss it any further. After about an hour, Elaine went out to the garage and found the book under the backseat of the car. She placed it silently on the kitchen table in front of her mom. And as she walked past her mother, she whispered a quick, 'I'm sorry'.
One of the best pieces of advice for parents of INTJs is to delegate as much of their children's lives to them as early as possible. Explain the purpose and basic parameters of what is needed or expected, and then allow them to determine the means to the end. For the most part, school-aged INTJs often feel they are ready for much more responsibility and independence than their parents give them. Having to fight their parents for freedom, privacy, and the opportunity to make choices for themselves exacts a toll on both the child and the parents. (And in the end, they will probably figure out an innovative way to prevail anyway). Instead, communicate your faith in their growing competence and honor their ability to make good choices by giving them plenty of opportunities to do so within the safety of a loving family.
Finally, because INTJs spend a great deal of time inside their heads, they can appear bookish or eccentric to the outside world. Thinking they are doing the child a service, well-intentioned adults everywhere seem to need to point out how crazy an idea is or why an innovative approach just won't work. Parents of INTJs may need to run interference between their child and the world at large to protect their rare children from too much negativity, resistance, or criticism. While the growing INTJ may not appear to care or seem to appreciate the effort, doing so can send a strong message of unconditional love and acceptance that penetrates even an INTJ's tough skin.
INTJ - The Scientists
Age 11 to 16
The characteristically independent INTJs of the elementary school years often begin to respond to the social pressure of junior high and high school by becoming more outgoing than they were as younger children. Many parents of INTJs notice how much more effort their children begin to make to push themselves out into the world of other people. It may become increasingly important to them to engage in the common experiences of adolescence, so, therefore, they will make the necessary effort to do it. But it creates a certain energy drain on them, and they will do it only because they have decided it's important, not to please others or as a result of pressure from their parents.
- Nathan had a very small group of close friends throughout elementary school. Once he entered high school, he agreed to attend more school activities like basketball games and dances. He still needed lots of information about what an event might be like before participating, but his mother watched him put himself in social situations he never would have chosen just a couple of years before.
- Abby had always been a rather slow bloomer socially and eighth grade was a year of big transitions for her. She seemed to finally be comfortable in her own previously awkward body. She accepted more invitations than she refused and even initiated a sleepover and New Year's Day party.
But despite their growing interest in things social, most INTJs still maintain strict privacy at home about their emotional lives, especially things related to romance. They still want to be alone more than they want to be with their families and when asked about their private lives, may resist and withhold more than they reveal.
- After one of Dean's first dates, his father asked how he felt about the girl. Dean looked at his father incredulously and said, 'Dad, my personal life is none of your business. I don't ask you about yours; don't ask me about mine.'
Even with an increased social agility, INTJs usually continue to pursue their own interests. Many enjoy individual sports like tennis, competitive swimming, rock climbing, skiing, or other activities that require a high level of personal skill. One INTJ teen discovered fencing and became very good; another loved everything about snowboarding – reading about it, looking at equipment for it, and, of course, doing it.
- Like many INTJs, Laura enjoyed the whole mystique of being different. Plans for her fourteenth birthday party might give others pause, but she and six friends celebrated in the local cemetery. Her parents agreed to supervise, and the activities included palm reading, seances, and hypnotizing one another. When the local police saw the activity, they stopped by and asked the group to leave. But even that part of the experience was a delight for Laura.
For many INTJs, academics are their first priority. Their natural love of learning, coupled with the advanced subject content and increased independent study of high school means they can really pursue their education with gusto. The quality of their experience is directly linked to the amount of freedom of choice and the level of their internal motivation. When it's high, their achievements can be astounding. If they are bored or uninspired by their teachers or courses, they can fail to put forward even the barest of efforts.
- Fourteen-year-old Carly really hit her stride in high school. She had begun studying French in fifth grade and took honors courses throughout high school. She loved advanced math, physics, literature, and art. Her favorite birthday gift on her fifteenth birthday was a high-powered microscope. She told her parents she secretly knew she would be the best in her class if she wanted to. Happily for all of them, she wanted to be.
INTJs usually have strong opinions about fairness and justice. They can be surprisingly passionate in their arguments and willing to stand up for things they believe in. Many INTJs enjoy the rigors and challenge of being a member of a debating team because it lets them demonstrate both their natural ability to see possibilities and their sharp analytical thinking skills.
- In eleventh grade, Brian's science class involved the use of lab mice in experiments. He believed it was cruel to perform medical or other scientific experiments of animals. So Brian took a position, wrote letters to the superintendent of schools, and refused to participate in that section of the curriculum. He didn't care that he might be alone in his position or what others might think of him.
As younger children, INTJs are usually interested in alternative thinking. As they become adolescents, that love also extends to alternative living choices. Many INTJs create their own unique image and embrace the whole idea of being different. They may choose to dress very differently than their peers (and especially differently than their parents!). INTJs may color their hair pink or want to get their ears (or nose or other body parts) pierced or express a desire to get a tattoo. The purpose is to revolt against the accepted and to make a clear statement of independence and individuality. Some teen INTJs may experiment with drugs or early sexual activity, all in an effort to more fully define themselves and create a life path that is ultimately right for them. They are also adamant about not allowing anyone else to control them. While this is scary for their parents, it may be a necessary part of the INTJ's process of becoming an individual. Parents of INTJs (as well as all types) are well advised to provide their teens with plenty of accurate and neutral information about sexual education and drug addiction prevention as early as possible, so they can be better informed and make sensible choices. But parents of INTJs especially need to tread lightly when it comes to heart-to-heart talks. Generally, the less said by the parent the better.
- Merrick's mother explained it well: 'When Merrick starts to talk about emotional or private issues, I have learned to stop what I'm doing, close my mouth, and just sit still. I don't comment, I don't even nod my head, because any input of any kind from me will shut him up real fast. I've learned the hard way to never offer advice, but just answer questions he poses. While it was hard for me to get used to doing it, once I did, I realized that sitting in silence with him after he'd shared something important or painful for him was really a special or honored place to be.'
Usually, the strength of INTJs' faith in their positions only intensifies as they live through the teen years. It's only with time and experience that INTJs begin to see that there may be a lot they don't know. But it can be frustrating to live with an adolescent during these years because, as one thirteen-year-old INTJ put it: 'I don't think I need college. I pretty much know everything I need to know right now.' And while this a common assertion among many children of all types during these years, INTJs say it with such authority and directness, one senses that they actually believe it!
- Remember Ariel, who made her first dress, unassisted, at age ten? By the age of twelve, she had started high school, designed and sewed a pants suit on her own, and had asked her parents if she could take over the responsibility of paying for all of her own clothes, supplies, and expenses from one basic allowance. She wanted to be in charge of herself. When it came time to select a college, Ariel wanted to go to a top out-of-state school. Her parents explained they couldn't afford it, so she borrowed the money on her own to be able to go. Now, that's independence!
Discussions with teenage INTJs – when they submit themselves to participating in one – can be fascinating, stimulating, and sometimes surprising experiences. INTJs naturally look beyond the immediate circumstances and have an innate ability to see far-reaching implications of actions. They are able to understand trends and quickly grasp how one discrete event can have an impact on many unrelated people or things. Their understanding of these connections helps them to develop empathy and understanding not often seen in younger INTJs.
- While Shannon and her father were watching the news, they saw a story of a fatal apartment fire in which several teenage girls were killed. Shannon commented that the effects of the accident would be felt for years to come on families and people who didn't even know the girls at the time of the fire. Her father asked what she meant, and she explained that of course the event would irrevocably alter the families and the friends of the families and would also change the lives of the firefighters and the other residents of the building. One action was interconnected to so many others.
While most parents of adolescents look forward with mixed feelings to the time their children will leave their homes, parents of INTJs may have gotten used to the idea of it sooner than parents of children of other types because INTJs seem to be in the process of moving out their whole childhood. By their teen years, they've been chafing at all restraints, arguing incessantly about limitations, and jumping at the chance to travel and explore on their own for years. Many INTJ teens express their readiness to travel to foreign countries, rent their own apartments, or move across country to attend college. The trick for parents is to know when they really are ready. That, of course, is an individual issue for each parent and child to decide. But understanding that INTJs don't want to be fussed over, pride themselves on their competence, and strive always for autonomy can help parents be highly selective about which issues they struggle with their teens over. Usually the more freedom INTJs know they have and the more choices they see themselves making, the less frustrated and rebellious they feel. Just a little bit of space can help the adolescent INTJ relax and maybe even compromise.
INTJ - The Scientists
The INTJ in a Crystal Ball
Lasting self-esteem for INTJs of any age comes from being valued and respected for their unique perspective and their constantly increasing levels of competence. INTJs need privacy to dream and make connections and the freedom to analyze and fully understand the world around them. They need to be allowed to question their parents and their environment and come to conclusions they believe are logical and right, despite what others think. Encouraging their creativity and finding positive outlets for their critical thinking skills will help them to employ their fierce determination in constructive ways. Parents who encourage their INTJs to work toward realizing their own vision raise INTJs who grow up knowing they are accepted and understood for who they are.
At their best, INTJs are independent, intellectually capable, and confident people with incredibly high personal standards. They can be ingenious and creative problem solvers and gifted artists and writers. Some INTJs, after what may be a lengthy period of self-discovery, settle down to a relatively conventional lifestyle. But others will continue to eschew tradition and pursue a challenging and nonconformist life. They aspire to be the best at whatever they are doing and need an ever steeper learning curve throughout their lives to achieve that good. Encouraged and supported as children for being different, INTJs can find energy in their solitude and peace in their individuality. Unconditional love for an INTJ begins and ends with respect.
Recapping What Works with INTJs
- Let them play alone or with one special friend as much as they like.
- Don't push them into social situations, but follow their lead; they'll go when they're ready.
- Offer information about what an event of experience may be like ahead of time.
- Don't think that because they don't necessarily display affection, it means they don't love you.
- Provide a constantly expanding source of intellectual stimulation.
- Visit hands-on science displays and children's museums where your child can explore and discover at his or her own pace.
- Offer increasingly sophisticated art supplies (good-quality drawing paper, colored pencils, different types of paint) as they get older, and secure a quiet, private place for creation.
- Encourage their curiosity even if their questions surprise or embarrass you.
- Provide building materials and other open-ended, creative materials; engage in creative craft projects or other common with with your child to foster closeness.
- Respect their need to be alone after school; don't question them about their day until they've had time to relax.
- Expect an analytical thinking style and don't take criticism personally.
- Be fair and consistent in discipline; explain the logical, rational reason for discipline and rules.
- Respect their desire to make their own decisions and develop plans.
- Listen carefully and silently to their ideas and their feeling; respect their privacy and don't question them about their relationships.
- Encourage them to find a physical outlet for their inner stress, especially that caused by the high pressure of early adolescence.
[Source: Nurture by Nature: Understand Your Child's Personality Type – And Become a Better Parent by Barbara-Barron Tieger and Paul D. Tieger]
INTJ - The Scientists
Okay, that had me rolling. Totally something I would have done if I had thought of it.
One of Chris's favorite activities when he was four or five was to place his full-length mirror on the floor and look at the world upside down. He could spend hours looking around and imagining living life on the ceiling.
Usually the more freedom INTJs know they have and the more choices they see themselves making, the less frustrated and rebellious they feel. Just a little bit of space can help the adolescent INTJ relax and maybe even compromise.
INTP - The Thinkers
INTJ - The Scientists
I sent this to my mother for her to read. She said it was just like watching me grow up in parts through text. A nice quote from the mother;
"When you were a young teenager you seemed to live in a parallel universe that was intellectually and physically different"
Great article, thanks.
INTP - The Thinkers
Originally Posted by bethdeth
My parents still cant understand me..
INTP - The Thinkers
I want an INTJ child now.
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