Are Children Born with their Personality Tendencies?

Dear Vicki: I’m the mom of two small children and having them home so much lately (like 24/7) has given me an opportunity to observe more closely the ways they act with other family members. I love being with my children – all I ever wanted was a home and a family – but my husband has lower tolerance to their loud movies or fighting, especially when he’s trying to work himself. He loses his temper pretty often and asks if this is the way it’s going to be. So, my question is are children’s elemental personalities already fixed in place when they are 4 years old (Mickey) and 7 years old (Jessica)? I’ve read a little on the Five Elements personalities and wonder if Mickey’s preference to play alone most of the time means he’ll be a Water personality when he grows up? And will having an Earth personality mother (which I’m pretty sure I am based on my reading) make Jessica more “Earthy?”  She does love helping me cook. Thanks for any guidance you can give. Signed: Curious Mom

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Dear Curious: It is a truism these days that being at home together a lot more certainly does highlight our personalities and how they interact. The short answer to your questions is that children are born with the wiring for their elemental personality already in place, so they can, and will, begin expressing that personality immediately. This means that Mickey is already the little primary Water person he appears to be. One way you see that is in his tendency to prefer playing alone. And if your daughter is a primary Earth personality, it will be because she’s wired that way, not because she has an Earth person for her mother.

But while that may be the short answer, to get the whole picture of how children relate to their elemental personalities as they grow, we need to discuss two important relationships that color the way your children express themselves over time: 1) How their primary elemental personality relates to the elemental personalities of each family member, and 2) How their primary elemental  personality relates to the elemental stage of their development. We’ll start with this issue of developmental stage.

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What Elemental Personality Are You?

Dear Readers: 

I regularly hear from people asking how best to determine their elemental personality. Four years ago, I wrote a blog about just that and thought it might be a good time to share it again.

Stay safe and well,


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Dear Readers: At a recent workshop, a student approached me unsure of her primary elemental personality. She had taken several different “learn your element” tests and while they all narrowed the focus to three elements (Water, Earth, and Metal), she still wasn’t sure which one was her true primary elemental personality or even how they might manifest in her life. Most of the test results said she was a primary Water personality, but she just wasn’t sure.

I explained that while the tests are a great starting point, I believe that the best way to determine your primary elemental personality can be to observe yourself relative to what we know about each of the element personalities. To do this, I asked her to send me answers to the following five questions:

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Her Mother Wasn’t a “Good” Mother

Dear Vicki: I work full time as a corporate accountant, have a houseful of teenagers, a busy husband, and now my widowed mother has moved in with us. On the surface it’s going well, but deep inside I feel a great deal of resentment toward her. She was not a good mother when I was growing up. She wasn’t warm and cuddly. She kept us clean and fed, and she read to us nightly, but beyond that we were on our own while she painted and pursued her career in art. She wasn’t like my friends’ mothers who baked brownies and knit them sweaters. I never felt mothered by her, but now she is expecting me to mother her. I’m having a lot of trouble with that. Signed, No Cuddles

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Dear No Cuddles: Every child needs mothering, and everyone can mother in some way or another, but what that looks like will be very different depending on the elemental personalities involved. To manage all that you’re managing and succeed as a corporate accountant, I suspect you are a primary Metal personality. Metal people are usually very structured, very organized, and find it easy (and often necessary) to stick to schedules. The fact that your mother was an artist who didn’t bake brownies or knit you sweaters while you were growing up suggests that she is probably a primary Water personality. Water people are the artists of the world; they will devote hours to manifesting mind-blowing creations, but usually don’t have the structure (or interest) to run a household.

In the Five Elements model, Earth feeds Metal on the Nurturing Cycle, so an Earthy kind of mothering would have seemed attractive to you. However, as a Water person who prized time alone to create, your mother could have thought she was giving you an incredible gift by allowing you time alone, as well. I suggest you consider the possibility that, while your friends may have had mothers who focused a great deal of attention on them, your Metal personality might have found an abundance of attention pretty suffocating. I’m in no way suggesting that your childhood was perfect, but if you examine it from the perspective of what your elemental personality values, you may find that in some respects it was a good match for you. That said, what matters most is how you relate to your mother now, so let’s find ways you can improve that relationship.

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