Personalities, Children and You

The way you can measure a society’s soul is by the way that it treats its children.
Nelson Mandela

Issue No. 25 – 7th September 2006

Welcome to Kidz Newz especially to all new subscribers.   This refers most particularly to all new subscribers I met last weekend at the E.Y.E.S. conference in Perth, WA.  Kidz Newz is a regular newsletter with information and teaching tips for anyone involved with young children.  You are receiving this because you have attended one of my workshops, purchased a book, or you have requested to be on the mailing list.  Thank you.  Please forward this to anyone you feel it may be of interest to.

Feedback is welcome.

My PD Updates

Watch this space for forthcoming presentations.

I will be in New Zealand in October.  If you have any contacts in New Zealand who would be interested in hosting a PD in early childhood music and movement, please let me know their contact details and I will contact them direct.  Many thanks.

Book Stocks Low

Kidz-Fiz-Biz has gone international with the release of the new UK version (revised 2nd edition) of the original 2 book pack.  This has been released simultaneously throughout the UK, USA and Canada.  When stocks of the original are all sold in Australia, the UK version will replace the original.  What that means is that the original will become a valuable collector’s item.  It will not be reproduced so if you own a copy, celebrate!  As there is limited stock still available, if you would like to purchase a pack or know someone who would, please get them to get in touch with me asap before they all go.

Personalities, Children and You 

I have just attended a seminar for business people on managing staff.  It got me thinking that managing a team of adults is no different from managing a classroom of children.  At the core of our being we are all children.  We all respond best to praise and recognition.  Nevertheless, we have innately different personalities. When we understand these differences we can get the best possible outcomes (from children in the class as well as other staff).

There are lots of systems for analyzing personality. The one I favour comes from Florence Littauer’s book ‘Personality Plus’, which I highly recommend if you want to understand this subject more fully.  The reason I prefer this system is that it is simple, effective and easy to understand.

According to Littauer, the four personality types are Choleric, Sanguine, Phlegmatic and Melancholic (this corresponds to D.I.S.C. for those who are familiar with that system). We all have a mixture of all types but one type invariably dominates. The Cholerics are the natural born leaders. In a classroom these are the children who tend to take charge in play. They are the organizers. Although we love these children because they will get the job done the fastest and usually the most efficiently and effectively, they can hurt people’s feelings along the way by appearing too bossy. Everything’s a competition and they have to win. The Sanguines are the bubbly, smiley, happy children ‘ the little rays of sunshine. Always popular and a joy to be with, they can be irritating because, like the cholerics, the details can be overlooked. They are so busy having a good time socializing that they forget what they are actually supposed to be doing. Recognizing any children so far? The Phlegmatics are the quiet achievers, the peacemakers. Everyone loves them because they don’t ruffle anyone’s feathers. They are usually content to go along with whatever is happening. Their down side is that in order not to upset anyone they can be irritatingly indecisive.  Finally the Melancholics. These children are the fastidious ones, not wanting to move onto the next thing until every last little detail has been completed with the previous task.  We love them because they do what you ask, to the nth degree. They are the ones who appear to be listening the most. Obviously their down side is that their perfectionism can drive everyone to distraction and they often fail to complete all tasks.

Since playing to people’s strengths while quietly working on their weaknesses is the way to achieve goals, we need to be mindful of this when working with children. For example, of course you want all the children to play the role of the leader as everyone needs these skills but when there’s a situation requiring a strong leader who won’t go to water at crunch time, then choose the choleric. For example, the lead role in the class play at assembly or parents’ night. On the other hand, have the cholerics doing their own set tasks when wanting to develop the leadership skills of the other children. With a choleric uncontrolled, the others won’t stand a chance. A group of cholerics will get their task completed quickly but it may be a bit messy. They are ‘big picture’ people, not big on details. Similarly, don’t put a group of sanguines together when you actually want something completed as they’ll all be too busy chatting and having a wonderful time. A group of melancholics will be arguing over the tiniest detail while the phlegmatics will find it’s altogether too much like hard work.

The ideal situation then is to form your groups of children with a combination of all the above personalities when you want them to collaborate on a set task.  In this way you will find the cholerics will naturally tend to be first to come up with a suggestion for what to do and how to do it. The phlegmatics will be the ones to quietly get on with the repetitive leg work, while the melancholics will be happiest attending to the fine details. The sanguines are best at choosing colour and design and will keep the whole team happy and harmonious. They will cheerfully do whatever is required provided they are given clear instructions. You will find the other children, especially the cholerics, telling them what to do. So long as they are not bullied, all the other children will naturally comply. Don’t forget that some children (and adults) actually prefer to be told what to do rather than having to decide for themselves. This is especially true of Phlegmatics. (Cholerics hate being told what to do so make sure you make it sound like it was all their idea.)

Suggest what appeals to them if you want the best work out of them. For example if you’re a sanguine, you may find an activity a lot of fun ‘ the sanguines certainly will be drawn to it and you will appeal to them if you talk about how much fun they’re going to have ‘ but not all the children will feel that way. You might have to appeal to the cholerics in terms of how proud of themselves they’re going to feel when the task is completed, to the phlegmatics in terms of how easy it’s going to be and to the melancholics in terms of their ability to do this task perfectly.

I hope this helps. The point is, be mindful of the different personality types of your children and your teaching task will be much more enjoyable. You will find much higher levels of co-operation, harmony and achievement instead of high stress levels. When you understand their positive as well as negative ‘triggers’ you can really get the best out of them.  Maximize their strengths, which raises their self-esteem, and minimize their weaknesses.

Quote of the Week

To know what people really think, pay regard to what they do, rather than what they say.      Rene Descartes


Children are natural mimics.  They act like their parents in spite of every attempt to teach them good manners. ‘ Anon.


Thank you for your email, the info on scarves and the lovely little story about the seven wonders, which I am going to find handy as a stepping off point for reflection time at our school.            Erica ‘ Esperance

About The Author

Marlene Rattigan B.A., Dip. Ed. (ECS), CELTA

Marlene Rattigan is an Early Childhood teacher, a teacher of English as a Second Language, and from 1987-2000 was a nationally accredited fitness leader. Her background is in music education. A keen interest in motor development in children led to the creation of Kidz-Fiz-Biz which she taught successfully for 13 years. Marlene also conducts workshops for children, teachers and parents at schools, in the community and at festivals. She has produced teaching manuals complete with audio CDs which are an extension of her ‘Kidz-Fiz-Biz’ program.

57 Henry Lawson Walk, East Perth WA 6004
T: +61 8 9325 1204 M: 0410 64 2781 E:

Enjoying Kidz Newz?

Perhaps a friend or colleague would enjoy it too!  Add their contact address and click “Forward”. (Be sure to include this entire message, including the subscription details) By doing this you will help us grow.

Looking for lots of ideas? Visit the Kidz Newz archive where you will find back issues of Kidz Newz.  Click on

Until next time – continue being a legend in your classroom.

Marlene Rattigan, Editor
Kidz Newz

If you would like to stop receiving these advices you can manage your subscription by following the instructions below.

We have your email address as %%EMAIL%%.

If you do not wish to receive any further editions of this email bulletin then please Click on the link below to CANCEL your subscription or EDIT your details:

Item added to cart.
0 items - $0.00