5 Struggles of the ISFJ Child and How You Can Help

an ISFJ child struggles

Although reserved and no-nonsense on the surface, ISFJs are incredibly empathetic, emotional individuals with great compassion for their fellow humans. This introverted Myers-Briggs personality tends to be responsible, practical, and committed, often going to great lengths to keep the people around them happy.

However, ISFJs aren’t immune to struggle. Throughout their lives, many people may try to take advantage of their good nature. And, being introverts who have little desire for the spotlight, ISFJs often feel underappreciated.

If you’re the parent of an ISFJ child or teen, here are five struggles he or she might face. Read on to learn how you can help them.

(What’s your personality type? We recommend this free personality assessment.)

5 Struggles of the ISFJ Child

1. Oversensitivity to criticism and emotions

ISFJs not only feel things deeply themselves, but they’re also intensely sensitive to the emotions of the people around them. Observant and perceptive, they can sense subtle changes in others’ moods, and they’ll try their best to put others at ease. Possessing a cognitive function known as Extroverted Feeling, they desire to bring harmony and goodwill to every social situation.

As a result, ISFJs may get extremely upset when exposed to negative behaviors such as bullying, manipulation, or conflict.

Parents who are advocates of tough love might inadvertently damage the self-esteem of their ISFJ child. Often perfectionistic, and with a strong people-pleasing streak, ISFJs will take harsh criticism personally and may beat themselves up so they can live up to others’ expectations. And this, of course, can hamper their natural development growing up.

If you’re the parent of an ISFJ, accept every part of them, strong emotions and all. Feeling intensely is one of the joys of being human. ISFJs can use their emotional and sensitive nature to their advantage, and as adults, make great teachers, counselors, activists, nurses, caregivers, and more.

Use words of praise and affirmation to let your child know they’re still loved, appreciated, and approved of, even when they make a mistake. Do simple, nice things for them to communicate your feelings. Even a single kind word will brighten up an ISFJ’s day.

2. Self-consciousness

ISFJs can be shy individuals, especially when they’re young. When presented with new surroundings and people, they may hesitate and hang back, prefering to watch for a while before joining in.

As the parent of an ISFJ, do not force your child out of their comfort zone too quickly. Help your child socialize by introducing them to new peers. The key to this is steady encouragement. Go slow, be positive, and tell your child that they can do it.

Since ISFJ children are very emotional, they may to cry easily. They may worry quite a bit about their peers’ opinions of them. If your child or teen suffers ridicule or criticism, listen to their experiences and always reassure them of their worth. Help them evaluate the source of the criticism and learn to separate constructive feedback from insults or toxicity.

Another thing about ISFJs is they usually don’t give themselves enough credit for a job well done. As perfectionists, they may hyper-focus on even the smallest mistakes. Even if your ISFJ child is too humble or shy to accept credit, acknowledge their good work. Simply telling them that they did well will make them feel appreciated.

3. Fear of change

ISFJs are fond of familiarity. As a result of their Introverted Sensing, they enjoy reminiscing about past events and making decisions based on past experiences.

Unfortunately, this trait can make it very difficult for them to go through change. In fact, ISFJs, in general, will resist change as much as they can, even as adults!

When going through a big change such as moving to a new home or school, your little ISFJ might become extremely distressed. Focus on lessening their emotional pain. Be kind to them, keep them as informed as possible, help them adapt by telling them how to face new situations, and above all, be patient with them.

You can also relate the present situation to a past event — helping them see how they eventually adapted to it — to bring comfort.

4. Dealing with intense emotions

ISFJs are reserved, especially when it comes to their emotions, although they feel these emotions intensely. Being unable to express them can thus be very frustrating for them.

When hurt, they may have strong emotional responses, such as throwing things, slamming doors, crying, etc. Because of their Extroverted Feeling, ISFJs are quite aware of and care greatly for other people’s emotions. As a result, they may bottle up or suppress their own negative feelings so they don’t hurt someone.

If your child is old enough to write, try giving them a journal where they can write about how they feel. This can help them sort out their strong feelings, gain perspective, and make rational decisions.

Always let them know that you are here if they want to talk. Because they tend to be good listeners, they often end up on the receiving end of everyone else’s venting — but they, too, need to vent! Having someone express genuine interest in what they have to say will make them appreciate you.

5. Self-sacrificing attitude

ISFJs are born givers. They love be generous to their family and friends. Natural caregivers, they draw immense satisfaction and joy from the act of giving. For example, Mother Teresa is thought to have been an ISFJ.

Being responsible and helpful are the core distinctive traits of an ISFJ. However, these virtues can sometimes overwhelm them, especially when they take on too many responsibilities.

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Some ISFJs have a hard time saying no. They may also be averse to asking for help from others, preferring instead to do things themselves — so they don’t inconvenience anyone! This can eventually lead to people taking advantage of their helpfulness.

As the parent, it’s important to teach your ISFJ child to say no to things they don’t want to or don’t have time to do. Encourage your child to make friends who give as much as they are given to. Help them identify and avoid people who might exploit their generosity.

There’s no doubt that having an ISFJ in your life is a delight, because they are immensely devoted, kind, and caring. Teach your ISFJ child how to respond to their unique struggles, and you will ensure that they grow up to be an emotionally healthy adult.

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