When our babies are born, we don’t often consider their personalities. After all, what is the newborn stage if not an endless cycle of eat-sleep-diaper-change? But once our children hit the toddler years, their personalities are much too strong to ignore. And because of those wonderfully big personalities, we can spend an awful lot of time butting heads, troubleshooting behaviors, and the like.
That’s what makes the Enneagram system such an interesting tool. This system details nine personality types with a focus on interpersonal relationships. Want to know how well you play with others? Your Enneagram offers insight. And it’s particularly helpful while parenting.
Read on to learn what your Enneagram can teach you about the way you approach the toddler years.
Type 1: The Reformer
Tidy and orderly, ones are perfectionist types who thrive in organized, predictable environments. They are most comfortable when they are in control, and they have a strong moral compass that is crystal-clear on distinguishing right from wrong.
Toddlers, in all their wild and untamable glory, can seem like quite the mismatch for ones. But parents who identify with this type have a unique advantage. Given their hyper-focused, purpose-driven nature, ones have a keen ability to hone in on the needs of their child—guiding them in a way that helps children to grow, learn, and thrive.
On the downside, ones have a tendency to bristle when they are not in control. This can make parenting a toddler a pretty rocky journey. To ease headaches, practice flexibility. Your home will likely be messy; your toddler is unpredictable and unfocused. The sooner you accept these statements as truth (however temporary), the smoother the toddler years will be.
Type 2: The Helper
Twos are tender-hearted and sentimental by nature—a boon for anyone navigating the sometimes rough toddler years. While little ones at this age are learning to assert their independence, they are also full of big emotions they are totally unequipped to handle (hello, toddler tantrums!). Twos are well-versed in empathy and likely to respond to an inconsolable kid with gentleness and patience—offering a steady and comforting presence children can rely on.
But if they’re not careful, twos can offer too much of themselves, ignoring their own needs in the process. Remember, twos, if there were ever a time to practice self-care, it is certainly during the exhausting, never-let-your-guard-down toddler days. Your needs are important too.
Type 3: The Achiever
Seemingly boundless energy is a hallmark of threes—a trait that must certainly come in handy when chasing an Energizer Bunny of a toddler. Threes are hardworking, relentless in their personal pursuits, and confident in their abilities. As parents, threes may be spared the constant self-doubt many others grapple with when it comes to raising kids.
As nimble and driven as threes are known to be, when out of balance, they may wrestle with an unhealthy dose of competitiveness. Be careful, threes, that you don’t fall into a comparison trap in an effort to rise above the rest. When it comes to parenting, there’s no winning—especially when you have a toddler on your hands. When your little one inevitably launches a full-scale public tantrum, know that it happens to the best of us. It’s not a reflection of your parenting abilities, and there’s no need to beat yourself up about it. Just peel your kid off the grocery floor and get on with it, knowing there’s nothing about your kid—or you—you need to fix.
Type 4: The Individualist
With a gift for creativity, fours are well-suited to the kind of messy, artistic play little kids revel in. They’re inspired and imaginative, naturally able to guide little ones toward expressing big emotions in inventive ways.
Speaking of emotions, fours are ruled by them, often reading as dramatic and temperamental when out of balance. Prone to self-pity, doubt, and sadness, this type tends toward sensitivity and moodiness—a potentially explosive match with toddlerhood. To offset this, fours can benefit from a mindfulness practice, taking time to get out of their heads and exist solely in the moment. This type has a tendency for introspection, scrutinizing their emotional reactions and behaviors—often for little benefit. Diving into mindfulness or meditation can help fours steer their minds in a healthier, more productive direction.
Type 5: The Investigator
Most likely to solve toddler tantrums for good, fives are relentless in their quest to uncover how things tick. They are laser-focused and undaunted, springing from one curiosity to the next in their endless pursuit of knowledge. Fives make for patient toddler moms, as they are committed problem-solvers and deal well with adversity. They are lifelong learners (a serious advantage during this homeschooling era!) and creative and innovative thinkers.
On their darker side, fives may find themselves retreating into their own thoughts as they work through a problem. They can become agitated and closed-off, taking a deep dive into their research. If you identify with this type, practicing being present may find you enjoying parenthood to the fullest. Know that not every issue that arises with our kids is something that requires a complex solution. Sometimes we just have to accept what’s happening in the moment and learn to be OK with it.
Type 6: The Loyalist
A six will never let you down, which is a fine trait to boast at any stage of parenthood. Sixes are dedicated, responsible, and trustworthy—throwing themselves 110 percent into the relationships that matter most to them.
As toddlers begin to test limits, take death-defying risks, and fly off the handle on the regular, they will find comfort and confidence in the steady presence a six provides. After all, a reliable and loving caregiver is the foundation of growth at this age—and no one offers that support quite like a six.
But the loyalty of a six has a downside. They are prone to anxiety and fear and lack confidence in themselves, which can be tough to bear while parenting young kids. Sixes need to tread carefully so that their anxieties don’t hold their children back. While in the midst of the toddler years, sixes can benefit from some perspective. By all means, baby proof your home—but then find peace in the fact that children are strong, tough, and resilient.
Type 7: The Enthusiast
Meet the Fun Mom: bubbly, enthusiastic, and always ready for adventure. They are uniquely poised to create a childhood worth treasuring.
As parents to toddlers, sevens are quick to embrace their silly sides and therefore have an almost magical ability to engage even the most reluctant child. Their big personalities draw toddlers in and allow them to form meaningful connections.
But in all of their excitement, sevens can be scatter-brained. They may jump from one fun activity to the next, ushering their young child along before they’re ready. A word of advice for this type? Remember to slow down from time to time and let your toddler lead the way.
Type 8: The Challenger
Raising a willful toddler takes determination, and no one brings that to the table like an eight. Strong-minded and confident, eights can navigate a power struggle from nap time to bedtime with relative ease. Especially crucial during the boundary-testing days, an eight’s decisive manner will help set a toddler on the right course, behaviorally speaking.
But because eights are so confident in their abilities, they may have trouble asking for help. And as we all know, it takes a village to raise a child—and that’s extra true for the toddler years. So, dear eights, it is perfectly OK to be vulnerable. We all need support from time-to-time and asking for a helping hand to get through the day should never be a source of shame.
Type 9: The Peacemaker
Every family could stand to benefit from a Peacemaker—the type of giving, intuitive, and extra-gentle person who can mend rifts and smooth ruffled feathers. Nines possess these noble traits, making them particularly well-suited to parenting a toddler. They meet their children’s emotional flare-ups with a steady kindness, modeling for them how to regulate big, unwieldy feelings.
However, in the pursuit of peace, a nine runs the risk of being a doormat. Oftentimes, they would rather be trampled themselves than be witness to an uncomfortable conflict. This can be problematic in parenting, and nines would do well to establish boundaries with their toddlers and offer firm, consistent consequences.