INTJ - The Scientists
Age 5 to 10
Most school-aged INTPs enjoy the increased personal freedom they gain as they get older. For many INTPs, nothing affords them more independence and freedom than learning to ride a bicycle. With their bikes, they have the means to explore and be on their own without structure or a plan. It's no wonder that so many INTPs report spending hours of contented time alone riding. Exploring the woods, creeks, or the rest of the world around them is another favorite pastime for school-aged INTPs. Most really like reading, have eclectic and varied tastes, and especially enjoying books involving fantasy or science fiction. INTPs also like comics, and many even read encyclopedias for fun because they enjoy learning about whatever subject catches their fancy.
- Like many other elementary school-aged INTPs, Meagan loved going to the movies or watching TV. She had a real interest in science, and from the time she was three liked to watch the Discovery Channel and public television documentaries on all sorts of obscure subjects. Some of her favorites included those about inventors, scientific experiments, or the habits of sea life and other animals. .She was never squeamish and was not easily frightened or disgusted by even the most graphic views of diseases or the internal workings of the human body.
By the time many INTPs begin school, they are already masters of the computer, flying around in cyberspace or whizzing through the most challenging video games. Their minds are well suited to understanding the essentially logical workings of a computer. INTPs are also at home with a computer's many creative possibilities and the unlimited opportunities to dabble with and explore whatever piques their interests. Given their high need for time alone and their penchant for 'noodling' things around inside their heads, it's no wonder that most or all of the favorite activities of INTPs are fairly intellectual and usually pretty solitary and internal.
While some INTPs are real sports fans and enjoy being a part of a team or following their favorite ones, most gain more pleasure from pursuing individual sports. Many especially enjoy the freedom and personal challenge of water and snow skiing, tennis, or the solitude provided by fishing. INTPs seem to be good at just anything that truly interests them and are often able to get excellent results with minimal effort. But for the most part, INTPs are specialists rather than generalists and during these school years may find a focus of interest into which they pour themselves.
- Nine year old Frank enjoyed putting model cars and planes together. He had his own set of tools and could deftly assemble very complicated models by himself in almost no time. When he got a little older, he took to restoring old cars, taking them completely apart and putting them back together, returning them to mint condition. But the process usually required months and completely took over the entire garage and driveway.
Other passions of INTPs include building forts in the woods (or in the living room with boxes and blankets), using various materials to create art, listening to music or books on tape, playing games of skill and strategy like chess or bridge, and just fooling around with electronic games and toys.
- Gill's two favorite things to play with were his gerbils and his remote-control airplane. So it seemed only natural he would find a way to combine these two interests. One day when he was ten, his parents looked out into the back yard to find Gill giving his gerbils, Orville and Wilbur, the flight (or was it fright?) of their lives – as passengers in his remote-control airplane.
Socially, most INTPs find a best friend during their elementary school years and often maintain that relationship for years. Like other strong Thinking types, some INTP girls find themselves even more socially ill at ease than others their age because they are not interested in or adept at conforming to the socially expected 'female' behavior and dress of their peers. They may find other girls 'too girly' for them and are likely instead to befriend to less-liked, quirkier kids in school, as well as the social outcasts of their class. Because INTPs are not eager joiners of groups like Scouts or other social or civic clubs or teams, they often don't have the same easy access to meeting new friends. Even so, they are usually content to be loners or to hang around with one good friend with the same casual, easygoing style as they.
The Joys and Challenges of Raising School-Aged INTPs
In school, many INTPs find it hard to stay engaged or focused on anything that is the least bit repetitive or routine. They, perhaps more than any other type, love a steep and continuous learning curve and need ferociously high expectations from their teachers in order to be motivated to participate at all. Since they are so selective and are somewhat uncomfortable in 'public', they may not speak up in class. Knowing the material may even keep them from participating because they so dislike redundancy. As one INTP said, 'The only thing worse than talking about something twice is thinking about something I've already thought.' Many INTPs exhibit a superior attitude that seems to say, 'I already know the right answer, so why should I bother announcing it?' For most INTPs, their internal standards are much more interesting and important to them than any external standard imposed by other. They may decide that since they know they can do something, they don't need to actually do it! And since they often don't feel compelled to demonstrate all that they know, they may sometimes surprise those around them when they do choose to speak up.
- Nine year old Carly stunned her father one evening when she contributed to a discussion a group of adult neighbors were having at a picnic. They were debating the ethics of research and testing on animals. Normally, Carly never volunteered her thoughts, even though her father knew she listened intently, and read extensively about this issue. Above all, however, her father was impressed when she demonstrated how much she really understood about the subtleties of the subject.
Because internal standards matter so much more to INTPs than external ones, tests and report cards hold little meaning and rarely serve to motivate the under-achieving INTP. INTPs must follow their intellectual curiosity to find a source of inspiration. If and when they find it, they can demonstrate amazing determination and creative energy. Parents of INTPs are advised to stay ever alert for some subject or endeavor that has captured their INTP's interest so they can encourage and support his or her continued pursuit of it. And they may need to work harder on their child's behalf to convince teachers to take the time and energy necessary to inspire INTP children.
Parenting such an internal child can pose challenges for parents concerned about keeping lines of communication open. They usually find their INTPs do not offer any information and sit silently at the dinner table while the rest of the family share details of their day. INTPs are generally reluctant to risk exposing their vulnerabilities or insecurities to their families. But they may also just not consider offering anything unless they are asked. Parents need to take the time to really listen when their INTP begins to open up. Often ,we parents are so busy doing several tasks at once that we expect our child to simply hop into the rushing river that is our lives, swim alongside, and keep up so they can talk with us. Most INTPs are not willing to make that level of an energy commitment to talk with anyone, much less their parents. And this tendency only intensifies as they get older. If we want our children to share their thoughts, ideas, concerns, and especially those remote and maybe confusing or unclear feelings with us, we need to make it easy for them to actually do it. We need to show them that we are really interested by stopping, sitting quietly, and patiently hearing them out.
- Natalie's parents were both delighted and surprised when she came to them at age eight with questions about sex and reproduction. They immediately went out and bought a book that frankly and objectively explained the process of conception and birth, and they read through it with her. When they finished, she sat quietly for several minutes. They asked if she had any questions and she answered no. They say a while longer, than Natalie got up, turned to her parents, and simply said, 'Thanks for telling me all this stuff.' She took the book and went to her room. Her parents gave her several days to digest what she had learned and then slipped a note under her door one evening that said, 'We're proud of how grown-up you are becoming. We respect your privacy but want to remind you that we are here to talk more any time you have a question.'
INTPs are easily overwhelmed with too much talk, especially when two parents try to speak at the same time. One six year old INTP used to put his head under a couch cushion when he saw both parents coming into the room to talk with him. For a child who must call on energy reserves to have a forced discussion with a parent, trying to do that with two people at the same time is simply too hard. It can easily feel as if the parents are ganging up on the child, and that naturally offends their sense of fairness.
- Daniel's mother found that the best way to build a bond with her INTP son was to make time for what she called 'non-demanding quiet time' together. Sometimes this was riding bikes or taking a drive, other times it was spent wandering through a science museum together. The key to success was not to expect any kind of big discussion. And most of the time, they really did remain silent. The strategy paid off over time as Daniel learned to trust his mother's acceptance of his need to be quiet. Occasionally Daniel would open up. From time to time as he approached junior high – and typically when they were in the car – Daniel would bring up something that was bothering him and ask his mother what she thought. She was careful to answer his questions, to avoid lecturing, and to be clear to label her opinions as such, rather than to imply that hers was the only way to look at or handle a particular situation.
One of the results of living life primarily inside one's head is that INTPs may be a bit clumsy or have a rather slow response time. This may be incorrectly interpreted by others as a lack of imagination or intelligence. Many INTPs are a lot like the stereotypical absentminded professor – dawdling, distracted, and forgetful of mundane chores, late for obligations, losing homework or library books, and generally disconnected from the business of life in the external world. More engaged in their own thoughts and perceptions, INTPs are just not paying attention to what is going on around them. They rarely take things personally and, in fact, don't seem to take anything very seriously unless it does affect them personally. So easygoing and aloof, they live in a rather casual way, unaffected and uninvolved with the world and people around them. It's important to remember that they are not usually intentionally insensitive. Most are just not primarily motivated to do things just to please others.
INTJ - The Scientists
Age 11 to 16
What surprises many parents of adolescent INTPs is the extent to which they can often achieve so much with so little effort. This is true both in the areas of their special interests like scuba diving, tennis, or other sport and in school. In general, it seems they have trouble studying, and tend to start and complete most of their projects at the very last minute, and still manage to pull off decent or even good grades. Parents and teachers of these children feel frustrated imagining how much might be accomplished if only they really applied themselves. But they frequently won't, unless the subject really captures their interest or they connect in a very personal way with a teacher they respect. Then they can perform at an unusually high level. A big problem for INTPs is that they are so quickly bored, and once their attention wanders, they will rarely finish the many interesting projects they start.
- Thirteen year old Brandon taught himself to play the guitar, figuring out chords and fingerpicking as he went along. He even mentioned, once, that he was thinking about putting a band together. But as with most of his ideas, he had almost no drive to follow through with it. He finished only a small fraction of the things he started. The best part of any project was thinking it up, solving the inherent problems in it, and perfecting the flaws. The actual performance or demonstration of his mastery held little appeal.
Socially, teen-aged INTPs usually remain hesitant to join in and are rarely the initiators in their relationships. They are characteristically very private about matters of the heart and believe it is nobody's business but their own. Above all, INTPs will avoid doing anything at which they cannot be masters. They prize their competency above everything else. So the areas of their lives in which they feel less secure, less capable – like the emotional area – are the areas they are least comfortable sharing with others. They will not risk looking like a fool. Parents of adolescent INTPs often find that if they ask about their child's romantic interests and activities, their child may avoid the subject, clam up completely, or growl, 'Leave me alone, Mom, Dad.' Pressing the issues will only push them further away, whereas respecting their privacy will create an atmosphere of acceptance in which respect, trust, and openness can grow.
Interestingly, INTPs may not be as susceptible to peer pressure as children of other types because their opinions are not as easily swayed by others and because they rarely do anything they don't really want to do just to impress, please, or be accepted by others.
- Once fourteen year old Tammy made up her mind that drugs were 'stupid', nothing anyone said could change her mind. Her mother, while relieved that her daughter sounded so sure in her opposition to experimenting with drugs, also knew that Tammy was a curious and risk-tasking person by nature. So she was understandably skeptical and wanted further reassurance that Tammy wasn't just telling her what she wanted to hear. Tammy became indignant and exasperated and said, 'Look, Mom. Other kids can take drugs if they want. But other kids are a lot less intelligent, anyway. So you really should know better than to compare me to them!' Finally relieved, her mother recognized that this pattern of independent decision making had been her daughter's style since infancy.
This is not to say that all INTPs avoid experimenting with drugs, alcohol, or other dangerous activities. Many times they do participate in very scary behavior and can sometimes even be prompted to do things on a dare. Caution is not the hallmark of INTPs, unless it is in the emotional area. One family went through three fenders the month their INTP learned to drive! But when INTPs take risks, it is usually not because they have been pressured into it by an influential group of friends. Rather, they do it to satisfy their own curiosity or to prove something to themselves.
INTPs are so naturally skeptical of authority that they may find themselves in trouble for talking back to adults, pushing limits, and arguing – often quite persuasively – against what they find to be unfair or ridiculous rules. Many INTPs flout curfews or neglect to call to advise their parents when they will be late. Because they are basically inattentive to rules and don't naturally see the need for such courtesies, they may appear insensitive and self-centered. For most INTPs, considering the impact their actions have on others is a learned skill.
Arguments with an INTP are rarely won if they aren't presented within a logical framework. Since they naturally and immediately see flaws in any position, inconsistencies may be the kiss of death in persuading INTPs to do what it asked. And because they are so inherently unimpressed with systems or regulations they see as pointless or irrational, compromise can be a tough call.
- Fifteen year old Tyrone had a running argument with his mother. He found it silly and illogical to be required to take clean clothes out of the laundry basket and put them away in dresser drawers just to take them out again, wear them, and return them to the hamper. He found loading the dirty dishes into the dishwasher after each meal a waste of time, too. Tyrone reasoned that it made more sense to wait until there were enough dishes in the sink – after the dishes had piled up from several meals – to warrant running the dishwasher. After several arguments, he and his mother finally came to an acceptable compromise, but one that really satisfied neither of them: Tyrone could handle the clean clothes/dirty clothes problem however he wanted as long as he wore clean clothes each day and the dirty laundry finally made it into the wash. But on the dishes argument, his mother insisted that even though he thought it was stupid, the day's dirty dishes had to be in the dishwasher each day before she returned home from work.
Establishing a minimum standard everyone can agree with sometimes helps. Usually, INTPs are not being intentionally difficult; they just can't help seeing the flaws of logic in ideas, systems, and arguments. As parents, it's not fair or right to ask or demand that our INTP children ignore the fundamental way they see the world. If we do, we risk creating a constantly contentious and hostile environment. But more important, we undermine their natural way of making assessments and drawing conclusions. We communicate tolerance of their style when we accept them for who they are and teach them coping skills to help them deal more effectively with an often illogical and even silly world. Appeal to their ability to imagine or project what might be the possible consequences of their choices – in the external world. Help them to see that what may happen, or what probably will happen, may not be what makes the most sense. Instead, it is sometimes just the opposite, because it is the human and often irrational reaction. Learning to be tolerant is a life skill we must model – it just can't be taught any other way.
INTJ - The Scientists
The INTP in a Crystal Ball
While they do not appear to be especially happy or ebullient people, INTPs are not necessarily unhappy, either. Since they are each unique and so different from most people they meet, their style is often at variance from the way our society operates. The road for INTPs can be a difficult one. Parents of INTPs of any age need to accept these sometimes 'tough nuts' for who they are, and communicate in word and, more importantly, in deed, that they are perfectly all right just the way they are. With time, they will learn the interpersonal skills they need and begin to allow themselves to trust and confide in others. But INTPs must first and foremost be accepted for the unique and ingenious people they are. With self-esteem firmly in place, they will have the courage and energy to take the risks of exposing their true selves to others and sharing their ideas with the world.
At their best, INTPs are independent and original people. They can be ingenious problem solvers and super-logical analysts of everything. Creative thinkers, they are capable of understanding and synthesizing complex and technical information with almost no effort. They can be the most competent and capable people to have around, with their calm and incisive style of cutting right to the heart of problems, quickly seeing alternatives and solutions others miss. Allowed to grow, learn, explore, and take risks, INTPs can become multi-talented people, capable of breaking through the barriers of limited thought to become the real inventors and innovators of our society.
Recapping What Works with INTPs
- Let them explore within wide but safe boundaries.
- Give them plenty of time to think things through before responding.
- Provide them with lots of raw materials with which they can experiment freely, expect that they may try to take things apart (and not always be able to put them back together).
- Encourage them to finish some of the projects they start by offering creative incentives.
- Respect their privacy; use notes to communicate with them (pictures for pre-readers, words for readers) to express your affection.
- Find common interests to foster closeness and intimacy.
- Explain the reason for each and every rule and limit; always frame requests in logical terms.
- Provide plenty of scientific and technical books, encyclopedias, and computer materials.
- Look for and establish mutually agreed upon standards; don't assume they agree unless they explicitly say they do.
- Help them develop time management skills.
- Try not to fuss over them; let them try to do things for themselves and learn from the consequences of their successes and failures.
- Expect to be challenged often and that they will seem to resort to hairsplitting; recognize this not as a deliberate attempt to be annoying or contrary, but rather a desire to achieve perfection in their arguments.
[Source: Nurture By Nature: Understand Your Child's Personality – And Become a Better Parent by Barbara Barron-Tieger and Paul D. Tieger]
INTP - The Thinkers
Couldn't describe me better.
Originally Posted by Grey
INTP - The Thinkers
One thing I would add..
I don't like to say people are stupid or unintelligent, I say they make stupid decisions. Mostly because I see that in myself at times being an adolescent INTP. I leave everything for last minute. That is besides the point, I'm usually serious when I feel uncomfortable or my intellectual self isn't satisfied, but it's not exactly a librarian serous. It's more of a wow i can't take you seriously so are one word totally random answers ok? Oh wow that's mean, but it's true, authenticity is important also for an INTP.
I have to say, after discovering this whole personality test and what not, a room full of INTP's would probably, I don't want to say destroy the world, but cause chaos haha
INTP - The Thinkers
My mum and dad were very concerned that I wasn't interested in revising for my GCSEs. I had to go up to my room a lot and say I'm revising so leave me alone just to keep them happy, when actually I was doing whatever on my laptop.
They still had their suspicions I wasn't revising that much and were generally annoyed by it, but I passed all 11 GCSE's with 5 B's and 6 C's.
I knew if I had bothered to revise I would have done so much better, I just didn't feel the need to. It was almost more of an interesting challenge to me to sit my GCSE's having done no revision in order to see how I could do.
This is one thing I want to change about myself.
I've just passed my first year of Uni and acheived a decent 2:1 with a lot of good marks on essays I did the night before.
Next year the work load will increase considerably and if i'm not careful i'l find i've left too much till the last minute just because I know I could achieve a v.good grade on them if I tried.
ISFP - The Artists
Originally Posted by Grey
INTP - The Thinkers
amazingly insightful breakdown of development. I am not too far from many of these stigmatized adolescent behaviors. INTPs think too damn much. The problem is that mastery of a task is just not as enjoyable to me as going off on tangents in an attempt to systematize this universe we live in.
Grey: did you write this yourself?
INTP - The Thinkers
That's just oh so me ....
I began to talk at only 8 months old (and I walked at 7 months), and I was just like a question machine XD
When I was 3, I explained the plate tectonics in details to my teacher, 'cause she had confused two dinosaurs ... At 4, I wanted to be a coroner ... my teacher was just scared XD
Just to say that know I understand some of my child (& actual) behaviors
Proud to be a "Why? Why not?" girl XD
Last edited by Maredda; 06-25-2010 at 12:47 PM.
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