The Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung was the first to categorize behavioral styles. No style is good or bad, right or wrong. Neither is one style better or worse than another; they are just different. Jung articulated a theory of personality behavior styles that he believed are genetically determined.
Styles can be discerned by watching young children and examining how they process experiences. Jung postulated that every individual develops a primacy in one of four major behavioral functions: intuiting, thinking, feeling, and sensing.
In Parenting Without Stress, we use the four style descriptions of Thinker, Feeler, Doer, and Relater. To better understand this concept, visualize a directional scale with a thinker in the north, a feeler in the south, a doer in the west, and a relater in the east.
A thinker (north) analyzes and can be described as someone who processes information using a great deal of thought. A feeler (south) can be described as being more directed through emotions than through cognition. A doer (west) is orientated toward results, while a relater (east) is into relationships. Since directions are not limited to north, south, east, and west, think in terms of general areas or neighborhoods, such as the north and west, south and east, etc.
A parent who is aware of styles has a decided advantage in relating to the child. The same holds true for a husband and wife. For example, just knowing that your spouse wants time to relate can prompt you to redirect an impulse of “getting on with a task.” Such knowledge can help you take time to listen.
In short, being aware of styles enhances communications. When you observe a youth’s style and start relating with this understanding, you will experience less stress and more joy in your parenting. For more information about the four styles, and to take an online assessment that will help you determine your own style, click here.