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Better Parenting with the Enneagram

Nine Types of Children and Nine Types of Parents

Published by Findhorn Press
Distributed by Simon & Schuster

A guide to using the Enneagram for harmonious parent-child relationships

• Examines each of the 9 Enneagram types as parents, including how to utilize your type’s inherent skills to be a better parent

• Explores each of the 9 types as children and teens, including their positive and more challenging traits, their triggers and fears, and how you can help your child find emotional health and achieve their full potential

• Looks at each of the 81 parent-child type combinations and shows how each combination works at its best as well as what happens under pressure

UNDERSTANDING HOW WE PARENT and why helps us to become better parents. Seeing life through the filters of our Enneagram type lets us connect with our children in a healthy and more conscious way.

Certified Enneagram practitioner and experienced parent Ann Gadd explores the 9 Enneagram parenting types and the 9 Enneagram child types, revealing each type’s strengths and challenges as well as exploring all 81 parent-child type combinations. A fun quiz helps you discover your parenting style, whilst highlighting gifts as well as areas for improvement. Getting to grips with the emotional inner core of your kids, you gain insight into positive and more challenging traits of each Enneagram type child and how to encourage the best from them. Better Parenting with the Enneagram is like having your own personal manual--for yourself and your child. You’ll learn what drives them, what they fear most, what inspires them, and most importantly, how you can best relate to them, whether they are young kids, pre-teens, or teenagers.

The systematic approach of the Enneagram offers an opportunity for learning to better understand your child, react more appropriately in stressful situations, and improve your overall relationship. You’ll learn to recognize and navigate not only your child’s triggers but also your own. Tumultuous emotional storms might be averted by becoming aware of what kind of response your child needs in certain situations. Feeling more understood will create a deeper parent-child bond, because being present with our children is the best gift we can give them.

From the Introduction

As parents, we tend to believe there is one way to correctly parent a child--ours, naturally. It can come as a shock to discover that there are nine different parenting styles, each with its own positive and less productive characteristics. In marriages, this can become a problem, should your way of parenting differ radically from your partner’s. Whose method is right? Which way will make for a happier, emotionally healthier child?

As an adult, you see life through the filters of your Enneagram personality style. Because of this, you will be inclined to emphasize the aspects of parenting that resonate most with you. If your child is not the same personality type as you are, this can make it harder for you to understand their motivations.

For instance, as a ‘Seven’ parent, (The Enthusiast) living adventurously and seeking new stimulation is a priority, (and you don't shy away from being at the center of a group). But you may have a quiet 'Five' child who'd rather fly under the radar and avoid "superficial" social gatherings. If you understand the personality type of your child, you can then parent him/her according to their needs, with greater wisdom, and insight.

It needs to be said that in my understanding, parents do not create a child's personality type. They can simply affect the development of healthy or unhealthy aspects of a child’s personality type. A traumatic childhood is more likely to create a stressed child who has more trouble accessing the more integrated (conscious) aspects of their type, than a child who has always felt loved, nurtured, and heard.

It’s also important to understand that in one family, different children may have experienced different types of parenting, depending on the environmental stress during their formative years.

There is way more to the Enneagram than just the personality profiling aspect. The Enneagram is a spiritual and psychological guide to help you shine a light on parts of yourself that you’re unaware of. With the help of Enneagram awareness, you become your own change agent and the best parent you can be. That’s a truly great start in life to give your children.

From Chapter 1: Type One
Type One Child: The Good Boy / Girl


Margery Meanwell was a fictitious character from the 1765 children’s story The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes. The tale focused on a poor orphaned child, nicknamed Goody Two-Shoes, who only had one shoe. One day a rich man gave her a pair of shoes. Margery goes onto become a teacher and marries into wealth. The name “Meanwell” is true of young Ones. They want to be good and they do mean well in attempting to improve their classmates, siblings, and parents. They are the North Star, shining their light for others to follow. This gives meaning to their existence. Life would be better they believe for everyone, if they just conformed to the rules, and all became like Goody Two-Shoes.

Type One kids quickly learn that being good and responsible is the way to garner strokes and praise from parents. They're self-disciplining and discipline others; even their parents. Little Ones, can be frustrated by their playmates who they see as being lazy, untidy, noisy, and unreliable. Remember the kid on the playground who had you all playing to the rules? Who would become furious if you dared to move up the snakes and down the ladders because it was different and fun? The bossy child who found the rebel or the non-conformist children hugely annoying.

These kids love being prefects in school, a role that legitimately assures that they can keep other kids in line. It also gives them a sense of purpose. One’s often experienced their parent(s) as being inadequate or not available when it came to discipline. Some may feel their parent(s) were too strict or punitive. As a result, a young One starts to create their own set of rules--their own guiding star to steer them. When a parent is overly strict, they may internalize, rather than externalize this code of conduct. Feeling flawed, they try to become perfect.

At school and home, their uniforms or clothes will be neat and kept clean, and they will look down their noses at other kids who’s rough and tumbles have created dirty marks or tears.

Ones work really hard to please teachers and parents and do what is right and expected of them. They love being given tasks to do – making sure everyone is quiet when the teacher leaves the room or handing out the juice. Life can be hard for these little perfectionists who are always trying to take what they believe to be the right course of action. As such, they can sometimes appear overly serious or older than they are. It's important to understand though that as critical as they are of others, they can be equally or harder on themselves.

Positive Traits of a One Child
Responsible: Even from a young age One kids will take life seriously and approach whatever tasks they are given responsibly and conscientiously. Whether it’s feeding the cat or doing their homework, little Ones will be reliably up for the task.

Wanting to be the best they can be: One kids want to be the best. Not in the way of a Three or an Eight child who needs to win, but rather to strive to be their personal best. They’ll study longer and harder, train with dedication, work hard--whatever it takes to be conscientious and thorough in their chosen field. It’s not unusual then for a One child to choose to do their homework first before going outdoors to play. The reward of play only comes after the effort of work.

Punctual: One kids like to be on time, so it’s important to support this by making sure you get them to where they need to be timeous. Being late will make them stressed.

Fairness: One’s get very annoyed with parents or teachers as well as other children if they feel that they or others are not being treated fairly. If they are dividing a treasure of sweets, One children will be adamant that each child in the group receives an equal share. (But then they'll likely be the ones sharing out the sweets.)

Honest: One kids like to tell the truth, which doesn’t always make them popular with other kids, but you can most often rely on their word.

Persevering: Long after their classmates have given up on a task, little Ones will still be trying to master whatever it is they feel they need to master.

Ordered: One children generally like a neat bedroom where everything has its correct place. Some may even be somewhat obsessive about lining up their teddies or dolls in a certain order. Rooms shared with a messy sibling can prove tricky.

Sticking to the rules: If they have a deadline for playtime, TV watching, or if they are playing with others, One kids will generally try sticking to the rules of the house or game. One children intent on doing the right thing tend to be well-mannered and do what they feel is expected of them.

Challenging Traits of a One Child
Just as is the case with adults, certain traits can degenerate from being positive into extreme forms, where they become less so. The good thing is that in understanding these potential pitfalls in ourselves or our children, we can consciously work to reverse them.

Telling tales: Because truth is important, One children can be inclined to tell tales on other kids. This is seldom a popular playground trait. Even from a young age, they can be quite prim and stoic, getting furious with other kids who don’t share the same ideals.

Better than you: Because they believe that they are better behaved than other kids, they view themselves as superior and more mature and thus assume the role of teaching other kids the correct way (according to their standards), to do things or assume a high moral ground. They can at times do the same with a parent who they believe is not acting correctly.

Dislike of criticism: One children don’t enjoy criticism. Calling them out in front of siblings or classmates won’t go down well. Because they put so much emphasis on doing the right thing, being told they are wrong, can be mortifying.

Not wanting to accept blame or responsibility: The same is true for accepting blame when things go wrong. Perfectionistic One children just can’t see that they may be at fault. They desperately need to be right, which inevitably makes other kids wrong. “Yes, I did smack him, but he wasn’t playing by the rules of the game!” “She cheated so I told on her.” “He took my train, so I broke his.”

Being in control: One children need to feel they are in control. They like to assert themselves in what can be viewed as self-righteous behavior to other kids. The trouble is other kids especially certain types, like Type Eights, for instance, don’t want to be controlled and told what to do. So, with the very best intentions, Type One kids can create enemies with the very people they believed they were trying to help.

Intolerance of other kids: One kids feel that they alone know the right way to approach a task, whether it’s building a sandcastle or hitting a ball. They believe they need to help “improve” other children or projects.

Fussy eaters: One children may quickly develop certain likes or dislikes for foods. “I don’t like it if the sauce is too mushy.” “I don’t like ice-cream if it has bits in it.” The same intolerance that they find in life, translates into food choices. As a parent of a fussy eater, you’ll need to find a balance between respecting a child’s preferences and becoming a slave to their desires.

Preteens and Teenagers
With hormones raging, teenage years are usually tough for everyone. The desire for greater independence meets the need to revert to the comfort of childhood. Developing bodies often let them down in embarrassing situations with unexpected erections, pimples, growth spurts, menstrual leaks, and urges that arise seemingly out of the blue. For One teenagers, trying to suppress their natural urges and control their bodies can feel like a hopeless task. As a result, the body can easily become something to feel ashamed about--something that lets them down. Some may even try to correct what they see as faults in their bodies, in extreme cases through eating disorders.

The desire to feel part of their social group and the role that social media plays to enhance or detract from this need can be hugely stressful. Doing the right and expected thing when we interact socially can prove to be a veritable emotional minefield as they both try to abide by and create rules for themselves and their peers.

They may resent siblings or classmates who seem so carefree and uninhibited and angry with parents who don’t seem to be conforming to the very rules they established. “You shouldn’t drink underage,” yet the same parents think nothing of having a few drinks every night. Resentment and hormones build and churn and get expressed as sarcastic retorts followed by penance and self-recrimination. The self-criticism of our childhood days can swing into becoming sharp criticism towards a parent. “You never raised me the way I should have been raised!”

One kids can often assume the role of parenting siblings; instilling in them the rules and values they believe their parents lack. “My much One brother was forever trying to discipline me. He was merciless in his quest. If I dared have my elbows on the table, he’d hit them out from under me; if I didn’t wash-up immediately, he’d bring the dirty plates and leave them on my bed. Deep down I know he felt he was doing it for my good--to save me from being an uneducated, lazy slob, but as a child, it was extremely taxing and would invariably end up in a fight. He was more of a parent than my parents.” One kids don’t take kindly to criticism this can spark outrage.

Often the teenager who tries to do the moral and correct thing can become the targets of attack of the more rebellious types. The “good” child versus the “bad” child.

At school, there was a very One prefect who would always call me out over the length of my skirt, untidy hair, etc. After I left school, we lost contact until 40 years later I received a message on my cellular from her telling me there was a spelling error in one of my books. She was 100% correct, but it made me smile. 40 years later, in her eyes, I was still messing up!

Helping Your One Child to Emotional Health
  • How can you as a parent no matter what your type, help your child to be the healthiest emotionally that they can be?
  • Gently let your child understand that the world or others are not there to be fixed or corrected.
  • Let them see that letting go and having fun is a good thing. They don’t always have to assume the role of a rule enforcer. Allow them to grasp that between black and white there are many shades of grey.
  • Teach your child to focus on what is good or right in the world, rather than what is “bad” or “wrong.”
  • Allow them the opportunity to do a task only half-well. Doing so frees them up from the belief that perfection is the only option.
  • One children need to know that you’re happy for them to try new things, even if they don’t succeed. To try itself is to win. Help them understand that failure is the road to success and not a disaster.
  • Let them see that they don’t always need to be controlling themselves or others and that sometimes relaxing into the flow of things reduces stress and the need to force a particular outcome.
  • Teach them that acceptance is a higher value than who is wrong or right. People are different. One children need to understand that being different isn’t necessarily wrong and that they don’t always have all the answers. Best of all teach them to accept themselves and to be less self-critical. They are loveable and good as they are.
  • Show compassion to yourself and others, so your child learns to have compassion for themselves as well. One children beat themselves up if they believe they have done wrong.

Ann Gadd is a writer, holistic practitioner, workshop facilitator, and journalist. An avid, long-term student of the Enneagram, she offers Enneagram workshops for beginners and advanced students. The author of several books, including The Girl Who Bites Her Nails, The A-Z of Common Habits, and Finding Your Feet, Ann lives in Cape Town, South Africa.

“Ann Gadd has written a concise and accessible guide for parenting based on the Enneagram. It can be enjoyed by beginning Enneagram enthusiasts and still provides depth for experienced practitioners. Better Parenting with the Enneagram focuses on the positive characteristics of each type and gently challenges us to recognize the places we go to under the specific stresses of parenting. As a child of a Type Four mother, I was blown away by the book’s accuracy. Ann was able to capture my experience growing up and articulate what I needed as a little child. As a psychotherapist and a parent of two small children this book has become my go-to guide to help the little people and parents in my life!”

– LYNDSEY FRASER, MA, LMFT, CST, marriage and family therapist and certified sex therapist

Better Parenting with the Enneagram is yet another incredibly valuable contribution by Ann Gadd to the rapidly expanding list of Enneagram literature. Ann is proving again that the Enneagram is not just an abstract spiritual tool but that our passions show up in every aspect of our daily life. Parenting can be extremely challenging, and Ann explains in her enviably eloquent and humorous style how we tend to make things needlessly worse for ourselves and our kids. This book will help any parent to worry less and actually enjoy some of the weird behaviour of our kids.”

– FREDERIK COENE, Ph.D., Enneagram researcher and member of the International Enneagram Association

“Ann’s book Better Parenting with the Enneagram is a clear, accessible read for those of us who want to parent with awareness, understanding, and acceptance. Her simple yet detailed presentation of the information makes it enjoyable and easy to digest (coming from a Type Seven parent with two small children!).”

– CHARLOTTE HAGGIE, health and well-being coach

“A gem of a read! As a soon-to-be parent, this book helped me acknowledge the natural strengths that I am already bringing to the table and also provided insight on where to be mindful of how my own stress/fixation can impact the parent-child relationship.”

– VALERIE WANAMAKER, LCSW, sex and relationship psychotherapist

“Ann Gadd has made an engaging introduction to the Enneagram, focusing on the most important relationship we might ever have--the parent-child relationship. We are all someone’s child, which makes the book relevant to everyone. Gadd allows us to reflect both on ourselves as parents and as children. You don’t need to know about the Enneagram to benefit from this book; you are handed the Enneagram’s view on the important aspects of the parent–child relationship and can immediately start using it. With this tool, you can be closer to having a conscious relationship, not only to your children, but also to your parents. Using the lost childhood messages (in the back of the book) is like adding magic dust to your relationships; try it, and you will most probably find that your child sinks into a peaceful, loving state immediately!”

– PATRICK HOUGAARD SIMONSEN, Enneagram coach and NLP trainer & ANNABELLA AL-NAFUSI, stress release the

“This book is pure magic. An essential and practical resource for any parent interested in their own self-development journey of growth alongside their child. Ann uses clear, easy to digest language with examples and descriptions that accurately reflect the uniqueness of each style of parent and child.”

– MARY J. FOURIE, millennial mother and Enneagram coach

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