Training Your Child’s Temperament

By Joey and Carla Link
July 20, 2022

“Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Proverbs 22:6

Parents have hung on to this verse from Proverbs for dear life, hoping and praying their kids will “not depart” from the way they have trained and taught them what is right and what is wrong.
“I’ve taken my kids to church their entire lives. How did my 14 yr. old son start hanging around with the wrong crowd? Now he fights us every week about making him go to church.” “My teenage daughter is pregnant. I took her to church and we are a good Christian family. What happened?” are questions we often hear.

Each one of your children has a “way to go” that God has given them to be who He wants them to be so they can do what He wants them to do. When we train our kids according to “the way they should go,” or their “bent”, they will more easily recognize how God made them and will see where they fit into His plan. The word bent means “someone who is determined to take a specific course of action, a knack or aptitude for doing something.”

When God designed each of your children while they were in your womb, He put together their temperament blend. One’s temperament, or one’s “bent” is the part of your personality that determines how you think and feel. Everyone is a blend of two temperaments. I (Carla) think this is God’s way of balancing us out. It doesn’t hurt to learn your own bent and that of your spouse’s too!

God gave your kids specific spiritual gifts and talents that their temperament works best with, all parts which make your child unique. As parents, it is our job to watch for these as our children grow and to learn how to parent them accordingly. Learning more about your strong-willed Choleric, laid back Phlegmatic, sensitive Melancholy, or energetic, out-going and fun-loving Sanguine will help you help them build on their strengths and work on their weaknesses.

For each of your child’s strengths, there is an opposite weakness. Your strong-willed choleric child has the potential to make a fine leader someday but at the same time can be bossy, demanding and has the need to control all situations he finds himself in. He/she doesn’t have the patience for lectures so he will deal better when you give him bottom lines. Granted, he will immediately decide whether to give in to them or not, but parents who know to stand their ground waiting for compliance or to see if they have a fight on their hands are way ahead of the game. Your laid back, even-keeled Phlegmatic is a born peacemaker but at the same time is lazy and unmotivated. His energy dwindles as the day goes on and parents who understand this will give them the necessary things he has to get done first thing in the morning. They will also understand he needs time alone and will give him that instead of feeling rejected by him.

A sensitive, task-oriented Melancholy can be judgmental and expect others to stick to his/her perfectionistic standards as well. They need time to talk as that is how they work things through and the parent who gives him/her this time will learn much more about where this child’s heart and head are on most subjects. And your fun-loving Sanguine? They are easily distracted and don’t follow through on what they say they will do. Keeping track of this child to see if he is following through on what he said he would do is tiresome but parents who get that they need to keep this up until their child steps it up will enjoy his success. Yes, the flip side of every strength is an underlying weakness.

We encourage you to ask God to open your eyes to the traits that make up your child. Ask Him to show you His design for your child. Ask Him to teach you how to train your children in the way they should go, in keeping with their individual gifts and the natural “bent” He gave them. When we train our kids in such a way that they find fulfillment in who they were created to be, we have done what God has called us to do as parents with the kids He gave us.