Ask Vicki: Relationship Advice Using the Five Elements

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.

Remember that the Five Elements model (see below) can be said to represent the predictable phases any whole experiences in the course of one cycle. This holds true for one seasonal cycle (winter, spring, summer, fall), one lifecycle (project or person), or even one celestial cycle. Basically, anything that exists across time can be seen to have a birth, growth, maximum expression, transition, and decline/death phase.

The Five Elements Model

During our lifetime, we are born and spend our infancy and early childhood in the energy of the Water element. We are full of ideas, inquisitive, and completely focused on our own needs. As adolescents, we enter a Wood element stage. We are growing, planning, reaching out to the world, and expressing our wants and needs in sometimes demanding ways. The Fire element corresponds to the time in life when, as young adults, we are always on the go. We think we can do it all and try to prove it. The Earth stage is a time of maturity when we (hopefully) learn to balance in a healthy way all that life has to offer. And finally, the Metal element represents old age, the time when we look back and ponder our life in an attempt to understand its lessons. The life stages of Water and Wood deal with children, so those are the ones we’ll cover here.

Let’s start with your son, Mickey. The fact that he prefers playing by himself does suggest he could be a primary Water personality. And at four years old, he’s between infancy and early childhood, which does put him in the Water stage of development. He’s a Water personality child in a Water stage, which will likely exaggerate his Water behaviors. That means he will enjoy being alone, but when engaging with others, will frequently demand that he get his way since, as any Water personality knows, the world revolves around them. This is characteristic of young children, but also Water people of any age.

On the other hand, if Jessica is a little Earth personality, which her enjoyment of cooking could indicate, her primary Earth energy will temper the Water aspect of early childhood. This is because in the Five Elements model, Earth relates to Water via the Controlling Cycle, which is the big star in the model above. This is expressed as Earth controlling Water and suggests that Jessica will probably be less narcissistic than normal for young children. Also, since her Earth personality will emphasize caring about others and time with family, she might be less happy playing alone.

As an aside, Wood, Fire, and Metal personality children will also be affected by the relationship of their primary elemental personality to the Water aspect of early childhood. In the model above, Wood is fed by Water (via the big circle), so a Wood personality child might express more of the unabashed willfulness of Wood energy during early childhood. The Fire personality youngster might be slightly less desirous of being involved in everything the way a Fire person normally is because of the damping down effect of the Water stage on their Fire (Water controls Fire via the big star). And the young Metal personality might be a bit more narcissistic than other young children because their Metal energy will feed the Water energy of this developmental stage (Metal feeds Water via the big circle).

In adolescence, we are in a Wood stage; our world is expanding, there are things to do, and we want to be acknowledged for our accomplishments. To understand how each elemental personality will be affected during adolescence, we look at the relationships each elemental personality has with Wood energy. In the Five Elements model, Water feeds Wood via the big circle, so Water personality children could be more productive and assertive than usual as adolescents. Wood personality adolescents will have a double dose of Wood, which could mean a bumpy time in the family for a few years. Fire personality adolescents will likely be more Fiery than other children because the Wood energy of their developmental stage will feed their Fire personality (Wood feeds Fire via the big circle). Earth personality adolescents could well be less Earthy than at other times in their lives because the Wood of this stage will have a controlling effect on their Earth energy (Wood controls Earth via the big star). And Metal personality adolescents might be expected to be better mannered than their counterparts because their Metal will keep the Wood energy of adolescence under control (Metal controls Wood via the big star).

Returning to the specifics of your children, the other relationship that will affect the way they express their elemental personalities is how they relate to the personalities of each family member. We have already identified your elemental personality and those of your children. And based on his low tolerance for interruption, and his temper, I suspect that your husband is probably a primary Wood personality (and likely a stressed one these days).

So, if Mickey is a primary Water personality, he and your Wood personality husband will relate to each other via the Nurturing Cycle (Water feeds Wood via the big circle), which will give an overall harmonious tone to their interactions. On the other hand, Mickey might find your Earth energy a bit challenging because you two relate via the Controlling Cycle (Earth controls Water via the big star).

This doesn’t mean that you and Mickey are destined to fight, or that your husband and Mickey will never fight. If Mickey gets too Watery, your husband could become frustrated or angry because too much Water rots Wood. And your gentle Earth guidance will probably feel loving and supportive to Mickey most of the time as you help him find boundaries. It’s just important to remember that the way your elemental personalities relate to each other can and will create a specific tone or tendency to your interactions.

With Jessica, your two Earth personalities will certainly understand each other. But you will need to be careful of the pitfalls regarding same-element relationships. For two Earth people, getting too wrapped up in each other can be a problem. And as the mother, you will need to remember to be a parent to Jessica, not a best friend. Your husband, however, will need to be mindful that his Wood energy will probably feel controlling to Jessica at times (Wood controls Earth via the big star) and act accordingly. He doesn’t need to step away from discipline, but being gentle with Jessica will be the best approach for him.

I hope this long answer has given you a sense of the ways your children will express their primary elemental personalities as they grow. Childhood is a wonderful and exciting phase of life, even during a pandemic. Blessings to you and your family! Stay safe and well.

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