Have you ever looked back on your teenage years and felt confused by the way you behaved or by different problems that plagued you? Perhaps you’re in the midst of your teenage years and you feel overwhelmed by all the decisions, stressors, pressures, and expectations weighed upon you. Each Myers-Briggs® personality type has a different set of struggles during the teenage years. We’re going to go into those and we’re also going to cover a little bit of the science behind the teenage brain. Hopefully, this can help you (if you’re a teenager) feel a little more understanding of yourself, and if you’re a parent of a teenager this can help you to get a glimpse of the challenges each teen faces and why they face different struggles differently depending on their type.
The Neuroscience of the Teenage Years
Did you know the brain is the last organ to fully develop? That’s right. The teenage brain is still under a great deal of development. In fact, the prefrontal and frontal cortex, the parts of the brain which are responsible for executive decision making and judgment, aren’t fully developed until one is in their mid to late 20’s.
Frances Jensen, author of The Teenage Brain, explains that we have a natural insulation called myelin that covers the connecting regions inside the brain. In order for one section of the brain to send quick signals to other sections of the brain, these connections have to be insulated. This insulation process starts in the back of the brain, and completes in the front of the brain, around the prefrontal and frontal cortex. This process doesn’t complete until the mid to late 20’s or even later. What this means is that when teenagers are struggling with impulse control, empathy, decision-making, and risk-taking behavior, a lot of that struggle is related to the lack of insulation around the connections in the front of the brain.
Once an individual reaches his 30’s, he’s able to access this area rapidly. At this point the brain is fully insulated and so connections take place at an incredibly quick speed. But teenagers have to deal with much slower signals in the frontal and prefrontal cortex, which results in impulsive decisions being made and a struggle to make long-term decisions effectively.
On the plus side, teenagers can learn faster and their memories last longer than adults! So it’s not all bad news for teens. They have what’s called “enhanced synaptic plasticity”, which means that they can learn faster and absorb more information than adults can.
The teenage brain is also more prone to addiction and is more negatively impacted by the effects of alcohol. Jensen said in an interview with NPR, “Yes, so the alcohol actually – because it’s affecting critical machinery in the brain that is actually at higher levels in the teenager than the adult, there is more target material for alcohol in the developing brain than later in life. And hence, it can have a more toxic effect…..binge drinking can actually kill brain cells in the adolescent brain where it does not to the same extent in the adult brain…So for the same amount of alcohol, you actually get – you can actually have brain damage, permanent brain damage, in an adolescent for the same blood alcohol level that may cause bad sedation in the adult but not actual brain damage.”
You can read more about the teenage brain in Frances Jensen’s book The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults.
So now that we’ve gone over some of the scientific changes happening in the teenage brain, let’s get into personality type and the teenage brain. How does your personality type impact your teenage years, and what struggles are you likely to face as a result?
The Teenage Struggles of Each Myers-Briggs® Personality Type
The ISTJ Teenager
ISTJ teenagers are generally one of the most responsible and practical of the teenage personality types. They usually are good with their money, consistent in their studies, and they’ve also become more at ease in the social realm. Tactfulness and sensitivity have been learned more fully, and although they still don’t see any point in “sugarcoating” things or opening up emotionally, they’ve seen the logic of being tactful through life experience. They usually like to have one or two good friends as opposed to a large group of friends, and they will usually be loyal to those friends.
Where ISTJs struggle is in accepting new ideas or possibilities. Because they have inferior Extraverted Intuition (Ne), they may feel suspicious of novel ideas or non-traditional ways of doing things. They may feel especially insecure about taking risks or stepping outside of their personal experience or the expectations they’ve built up their whole lives. ISTJs can be risk-takers and innovators (there are many great ISTJ entrepreneurs like Jeff Bezos or Ingvar Kamprad), but in the teen years when personal experience is so relied upon, venturing into unknown territory can be a special challenge for the ISTJ.
Alternatively, the inferior function tends to grow in power towards the end of the teen years. This can cause a simultaneous push-and-pull in the ISTJ to experience the inferior function and look down on it. One week the ISTJ may go from following his favorite “tried and true” techniques and the next week he might be considering a far-off theoretical perspective. During times of extreme or chronic stress, he may feel overwhelmed by negative theoretical possibilities and preoccupied with concerns of the unknown.
Lastly, ISTJs may struggle with the wishy-washy nature of other teens. They prefer consistency and loyalty in their friends; other teenagers may feel tossed and pulled in ever-changing directions. Friends who “switch gears” every two weeks or can’t make up their minds can be increasingly irritating for the ISTJ to deal with. ISTJs tend to be more stable and focused as teenagers than many other types.
Related: Getting to Know the ISTJ
The ISFJ Teenager
ISFJ teenagers are usually responsible and hard-working. They tend to be careful with money and interested in earning and saving it. They often have their homework done on time and they usually like to present themselves well and dress well. They are hard workers, kind and generous with their friends, and responsible with their obligations in the home. They aren’t usually fond of huge social gatherings, but they like to have one or two close friends and often enjoy helping out in community events.
Where ISFJs struggle is with accepting new experiences and taking risks. While this can be a very good thing and can keep them away from many unsafe activities, it can also mean that they shut down opportunities that could be very beneficial for them. As they grow through adolescence and into adulthood they become more open to new experiences and more willing to try out new things and innovate. During the teenage years, their innovation tends to be exhibited in crafts, hobbies, and style choices.
Another struggle ISFJ teens deal with is peer pressure. ISFJs naturally want to maintain harmony in their relationships, and they don’t really like to raise conflict or feel isolated or odd. Even though they tend to be on the responsible side, they may feel pressure from other teens to do things they don’t feel comfortable with. They may also feel unsure about how to say no while maintaining harmony. Being ridiculed for being different or being “a goody-two-shoes” is extremely aggravating for them. They may feel that they can’t share their true selves because their friends have changed and no longer respect their goals and beliefs. This pressure may make them increasingly irritable at home, but it’s important for parents to not grow impatient with them during this time. It’s relatively normal for teenagers to go through a confusing phase as they try to figure out who they are and what their independent beliefs and goals are.
With adolescence comes the emergence of the inferior function for ISFJs. Because they have inferior Extraverted Intuition, this may result in them going from sticking to the rules one day and thinking outside the box the next. During stress, the ISFJ may become increasingly concerned about unforeseen possibilities. They may struggle with anxiety about unknowns and seek to secure a path for their life that seems safe and risk-free. It’s important for parents to assure ISFJs that they have their support regardless of where life takes them and that they don’t have to be afraid of the future.
The ESTJ Teenager
ESTJ teenagers tend to be hard-working, ambitious, and goal-oriented. They are usually responsible and mature for their age, enjoying the freedom and job opportunities that adolescence provides. They are usually drawn to making money; whether that be through their own entrepreneurial efforts or through taking on a part-time job. They also tend to enjoy the increasing social activities abundant in teen life. They are often drawn to team sports, community events, or positions in student government. They take to leadership naturally and enjoy the camaraderie and fellowship of high school life.
Where ESTJs struggle is with overworking themselves or taking on far too many responsibilities. They are drawn to action and projects and can wind up signing up for every extra-curricular activity and team event there is! As a result, they may feel overwhelmed once the reality of all their responsibilities hits them and they run out of time to meet deadlines. They may become irritable, overwhelmed, and increasingly withdrawn as the pressure from their mounting to-do list cages them in.
Another area that can be a struggle for ESTJs is a desire for security and a simultaneous desire for independence. ESTJs tend to be very attached to their families and communities, but at the same time feel a pull towards finding their own independent pathway and purpose in life. They may grow restless with trying to be “the responsible one” at home while navigating the confusing waters of adolescence with other teens who are experimenting or being rebellious. They may go through a rebellious phase as many teens do, but feel awkward about the push and pull between forming their independent sense of identity and maintaining security and upholding their relationships with family.
ESTJs can also struggle with being inflexible. Their dominant function, Extraverted Thinking (Te) is strengthening greatly at this age, and they may form hard, fast opinions about things without looking at all the data in-depth or reviewing alternate perspectives to get a thorough knowledge before deciding. Te likes to decide quickly, and Te-dominants may form opinions rapidly without taking the time to think things through. As a result, they may seem stubborn and close-minded to other people and this may hurt their relationships as a result.
The ESFJ Teenager
ESFJ teenagers are usually very responsible, active, and involved in their communities. They tend to enjoy Jr. and Sr. high with all the flurry of activities, academics, social events, and plans. They enjoy being part of community and school events, whether it means planning out prom decorations or participating in student government. The ESFJ is usually a caring, loyal, and devoted teenager. They take their friendships extremely seriously and will do just about anything for their friends. At the same time, they can be quickly turned off by disloyalty and bullying from their own friends and they may rapidly cut someone out of their life who violates their values or betrays their friendship.
ESFJs tend to struggle with conflicting goals and desires in adolescence. They may over-commit themselves to projects and activities only to become overwhelmed by deadlines. They hate to be rushed to finish anything at the last minute, and usually are very concerned with being on time. This can result in an enormous amount of stress for the ESFJ who has taken on more than they can handle. It can also mean they miss out on the carefree joys of adolescence because they are so busy. They tend to want to be everywhere all at once; with their friends, with their family, or working on their projects. They often feel pulled in a hundred different directions.
Another struggle that ESFJs often face is peer pressure. They greatly desire approval from their friends and may have a hard time making up their own mind about things. If they don’t get enough alone time to process their own individual desires and goals, they may feel pulled in different directions by their different friends and be unsure about what their unique hopes and dreams are. They may also struggle with sticking to their values when it comes at the cost of appearing like a “goody goody”. ESFJ teens tend to care greatly about their appearance to others, and may find themselves struggling to know how to handle pressure to participate in activities that conflict with their values. As they get further into adolescence and then their 20’s, ESFJs usually are able to define their core values and maintain stronger resistance against peer pressure. Parents can be of great help during the teen years by encouraging the ESFJ to take time to consider their hopes and dreams and unique perspectives. They can let them know that it’s okay to be different and to not be “all things to all people”. ESFJs generally have a strong set of values, but they just need to feel safe and secure in sticking to them against opposition.
ESFJs also may struggle with jumping to conclusions. Because their dominant function, Extraverted Feeling (Fe) is progressing at such a rapid pace without mature support from sensing and intuition, they may form conclusions quickly without taking the time to consider alternate perspectives and facts. As a result, they may stubbornly hold to ideas or conclusions that are incorrect or damaging to themselves and/or others. It’s important for them to get regular alone time so that they can access their auxiliary sensing function and recall facts, details and truths that will balance their decisions.
Related: The Top 7 Gift Ideas for ESFJs
The ISTP Teenager
ISTPs are extremely independent, analytical, and resourceful teenagers. They often enjoy extracurricular activities like sports or individual interests like rock climbing, video games, or learning a musical instrument. Their passions and interests are varied, so it’s hard to pin them down to one particular hobby. They are usually passionate about things that involve clever thinking and some kind of hands-on involvement. They tend to have a natural dexterity because of their auxiliary Se, and they enjoy rolling up their sleeves and engaging directly with objects and challenges in the outer world. ISTP teens tend to be on the quiet side; they think carefully and observe rather than speak whatever is on their mind. They also tend to be very blunt when they do speak. This can be both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, they tend to be very direct and honest. On the other hand, they can also inadvertently turn people off with their frank approach. This can be frustrating for them, especially female ISTPs who are in environments where a more traditional feeling role is expected.
ISTPs often struggle with the growing theoretical nature of academics in high school. While they are certainly gifted with a clever and logical mind; the conceptual nature of calculus or the emphasis on creative writing can bore them. They would much rather master a skill that interests them personally or is hands-on in its application.
ISTPs are not generally concerned with pleasing authorities, teachers, or getting a good grade on a report card. It’s more important for them to prove to themselves what they know and to master their own independent interests. They may get frustrated with parental disapproval if their grades falter. They don’t see why an institution’s perspective of their competence is so important when they are more than competent at the practical and technical pursuits they tend to enjoy. ISTPs tend to be quick-thinking, logical, and clever individuals but their disinterest in proving it to the outer world can limit their prospects if they desire to get into a good college. Parents who have exceedingly high expectations or expect a more traditional roadmap for their ISTP child may frustrate them and cause them to withdraw from family.
Lastly, boredom is a particular problem for ISTP teens. The never-ending flurry of homework, and the pressure to make long-term decisions can stress them out and leave them feeling stifled and under-stimulated. As a response, they may seek stimulation or engage in impulsive risks to add excitement to their lives. They may feel lured towards the thrill of physical risks whether it be extreme sports or even drugs and alcohol. According to the MBTI® Manual, ISTPs are overrepresented among males in substance abuse programs. They are also frequent among high school students in remedial at-risk programs. That said, from my interactions with ISTPs I’ve seen two sets of people. One set indulged in drugs or alcohol early on, and another set were too focused on the logical long-term effects of drugs that they didn’t feel a pull towards experimenting with them. ISTPs greatly desire physical control over their own bodies and many weren’t interested in drugs simply because it took this control away. These individuals often engaged in healthier thrilling activities like snowboarding, racing, or backpacking across the country.
Related: Understanding ISTP Thinking
The ISFP Teenager
ISFP teenagers are usually very caring, empathetic, and independent. They enjoy exploring their freedom in the teenage years and embracing their strengths. Many times they are attracted to creative or hands-on fields; whether it be acting, designing, athletics, or hairstyling. They are also drawn to areas that combine their empathy with their skill at maneuvering in the physical world and understanding kinesthetic problems. Many ISFPs develop an early interest in health care or working in animal shelters or with disadvantaged groups of people. They are driven by their values, by their compassion, and by their desire for self-expression and freedom. One day they may be diligently pursuing their academic responsibilities, and the next day they may be planning a solo backpacking adventure through Southeast Asia. They are adventurous and hate to feel tied down to a pre-ordained set of rules or roadmap for their life.
ISFPs often struggle with the pressure in adolescence to make far-reaching, long-term decisions. They may struggle with seeing all the options before them and settling on something. Parents who push them to decide before they’re ready are especially frustrating for young ISFPs. They like to keep their options open and hate to feel tied down to a decision that has been forced before they’re ready.
Young ISFPs also struggle with the sometimes shallow relationships in high school. In childhood, children were more honest and more transparent. Now there are more bullies, there is more pressure to compromise their values, and there is more backstabbing and fakery. ISFPs tend to feel torn between sticking their neck out for their beliefs or saying nothing and staying in the background. This is very confusing and frustrating for them because they are so driven by their values and morals yet they greatly desire to find companionship and acceptance by their peers. This whole experience can be a torment for them and they may need extra reassurance from parents and good friends that it’s okay to just “be themselves” or to walk away from damaging relationships.
Lastly, ISFPs can struggle with keeping up with deadlines or managing money. Se-users tend to thrive on impulse, and as a result ISFPs can splurge all their allowance or earnings as soon as they get it. They may also get frustrated with the increasingly abstract nature of the academic world. ISFPs are extremely realistic and enjoy practical studies and their own creative interests. Studying conceptual math like calculus can be draining and boring to them. They would much rather focus on learning something that has a direct, practical application or correlates with their values in some way.
As always, each individual is unique so for every 8 ISFPs who hated calculus there are probably 2 who loved it. Keep this in mind as you read any type description!
Related: 5 Ways to Annoy an ISFP
The ESTP Teenager
ESTP teenagers are driven by experience, adventure, and thrills. They live to absorb every bit of joy and pleasure that can be had in the moment. They are friendly and charismatic, with a natural charm that makes them easily liked by all types of people. Their natural gift for physical grace often gives them a leg-up in athletics. According to the MBTI® Manual, ESTPs voted as their favorite leisure activity “Playing sports”. ESTPs are usually friendly, non-judgmental, and clever. They are drawn to action and they usually give off a physical intensity and restlessness that pushes them towards challenging physical feats. Weekends will find them gathering with friends to play baseball, go rock climbing, party, or have video game marathons. ESTPs are generally very fun-loving and optimistic. Carl Jung said of the Se-dominant type that “his lively capacity for enjoyment makes him very good company; he is usually a jolly fellow, and sometimes a refined aesthete.”
ESTPs tend to struggle with the more abstract and conceptual aspects of high school academics. While they are indeed clever, they tend to put their wits where there is a practical application. Abstract learning is of little interest because they don’t see a direct application to their daily life. They may underperform in school, preferring to focus on exploring the world around them, mastering physical or technical fields of their interest, or socializing with friends. This can frustrate achievement-oriented parents who wish for their ESTP child to get good grades or get into a good college. ESTPs tend to not be swayed by authority or more traditional life paths and usually excel better when they’re allowed to deeply pursue their own interests. Some ESTPs choose to get through high school academics so that they can get careers as surgeons or doctors. They are drawn to the practical application and quick, on-the-spot thinking that is needed for these careers. These students who apply themselves usually get excellent grades. For the ESTP it’s not a matter of lack of intelligence as much of a lack of interest that holds them back in school.
ESTPs may also struggle with making impulsive or reckless decisions. They tend to live in the moment and prefer not to project about theoretical possibilities or what “may” happen. They thrive on impulse and can sometimes be fascinated by dangerous pursuits like street racing, excessive drinking, or drugs. According to the MBTI® Manual, ESTPs are frequent among college students referred for substance abuse training. That said, many ESTPs find healthy outlets for their adventurous side. They may learn snowboarding, start their own businesses, or go backpacking across the country! Adventure is never far from their heart.
Related: 5 Ways to Annoy an ESTP
The ESFP Teenager
ESFP teenagers are adventurous, compassionate, and outgoing. They usually have a wide circle of friendships and are very loyal to the people they care about. ESFPs thrive on experience and love to immerse themselves in every opportunity and thrill that high school can provide. They know how to enjoy the moment and tend to make the most of it with gusto and enthusiasm. They can feel increasing stress during the teen years as pressure from adults to choose a life path presses in. Trying to project about their long-term goals can be frustrating and they may feel increasingly overwhelmed as they try to make up their mind about what they want to do. It’s important to remember that ESFPs have inferior Introverted Intuition (Ni). As a result, making far-reaching decisions and focusing on big-picture goals can cause them great stress. They may need help, reassurance, and patience from their parents as they try to figure out what they want for their life.
As teenagers, ESFPs tend to struggle with the increasingly abstract nature of academics. They like to focus their skills on areas that have a realistic, practical application and subjects like calculus or algebra can be frustrating for them. They are certainly not lacking in intelligence, but their cleverness is often ignored in traditional high school environments. They are usually skilled at hands-on fields or areas that require a deep understanding of people. Abstract or theoretical concepts tend to bore them. They may need extra guidance and patience from parents and are usually able to absorb information better if they are given a hands-on way to recreate the concepts they’re learning.
Many ESFPs are interested in psychology or making a difference in the world of people. Others are greatly affected by the plight of animals and enjoy pursuing a hands-on career field like veterinary medicine. What the ESFP needs is a parent and education system that believes in them and notices their unique gifts instead of forcing a cookie-cutter education onto them that doesn’t play to their strengths.
Another issue that ESFPs face is with spending money. Se-dominant types thrive on impulse and tend to enjoy spending their money just as soon as they get it. They long to make each moment count and so if they have the money to do it they will almost always try! Whether it’s buying gifts for their friends or family members, buying a keepsake to commemorate an event, or splurging on clothes or concerts, ESFPs often struggle with holding onto their money or saving it for the future. Some ESFPs find that putting half their weekly or monthly earnings in a savings account they can’t touch helps them to save. If the money’s in their pocket and readily available they’ll have a much easier time spending it when the mood strikes.
Lastly, ESFPs are gentle and often emotional individuals. They can be hurt by the bullying and backstabbing that is very prevalent in high school circles. Thoughtless or cruel comments can wound them deeply and if they don’t have any truly sincere or caring friends around they can become depressed and anxious. ESFPs have auxiliary Introverted Feeling (Fi) which means authenticity and loyal friendship are essential components to a happy teenage life.
Related: 5 Ways to Annoy an ESFP
The INTJ Teenager
INTJ teenagers are known for their independence, love of learning, and intellectual mindset. They think beyond current circumstances to far-reaching future implications and are usually concerned with the theoretical and abstract. High school academics often appeal to the INTJ with their focus on conceptual math or creative writing. They learn and absorb interesting information like a sponge; that is, unless their teacher doesn’t have their respect. If they dislike a teacher or feel that the subject is being taught poorly they may show zero interest in participating or proving themselves in that particular class. For the most part, however, INTJs are able to keep their eye on their long-term goals and study hard in school and get good grades. They are usually eager to learn as much as possible, but they aren’t afraid to challenge rules or teachings that seem illogical or based on traditional norms.
INTJs tend to struggle in adolescence with feeling disconnected from their peers. While they face a growing desire to connect socially with other individuals, they often feel that the ever-changing interests and sometimes shallow focus of other teens is disappointing. Instead of letting this depress them, usually INTJs seek to differentiate themselves from the crowd. They often embrace what makes them different and try to find ways to express it; some dye their hair an unusual color, others get unusual tattoos, but the main focus is to express that they are not mainstream. This is usually enhanced by the growing, yet still immature, development of Introverted Feeling (Fi) which craves authenticity and self-expression and Extraverted Sensing (Se) which wants to experience and take risks.
The inferior function of the INTJ, Se, starts to become more powerful in the teenage years. This can be a good thing; certain INTJs will use this increased awareness to take up a sport or enjoy healthy sensory experiences. Some INTJs will also embrace their inferior Se in an unhealthy way; by experimenting with drugs or alcohol. It’s important for parents to let teen INTJs know how to handle situations that involve drugs or sex. While INTJs are often incredibly book smart and intellectual, sometime “street smarts” aren’t attained till much later in life, which brings us to our next point…
INTJs are often very mature for their age, and they usually have a wide breadth of intellectual knowledge and understanding. However, like most people in their teens, they still have a lot to learn and experience. They are often unwilling to admit this, however, and INTJs as young as 12 or 13 may think they have the ability to live on their own and make their own decisions without any guidance. Many begin to think that they are more mature, intelligent, or superior than everyone else their age (or older). They have great belief in their opinions and can be unwavering in their assurance. In some ways this is good; they thrive on spreading their wings and gaining their own independent experiences and proving their competence. Many leave home early, enjoy internships, or travel overseas. At the same time, it’s important for them to learn to respect other people and be willing to learn from them, even if they are far different from themselves. Some INTJs who go through life continuously thinking they know everything have difficulties in relationships and friendships later on. All types need to remember that they can learn great things from people who are very different from themselves.
Related: The Childhood Struggles of INTJs
The INFJ Teenager
Teenage INFJs are known for their empathy, creativity, and desire to find a focus or vision for their life. They are usually more social in the teenage years, trying to find their place and discover where they fit in. They often enjoy the creative opportunities that arise in high school; from creative writing to even performing in drama class or playing in band. Some INFJs become very social and really enjoy connecting with their friends and participating in school events. Other INFJs find it difficult to find someone to really connect with who understands them. These INFJs may become more reclusive and private and even disillusioned with high school politics and the social atmosphere.
At home, INFJ teens tend to draw inward to focus on who they are as a person outside of their environment and upbringing. They may question the values they were brought up with or question beliefs that they’ve had their whole life. The teen years can be a time of introspection and self-evaluation, a confusing time where they’re trying to find out who they are and what they believe in independently. Some INFJs become increasingly moody during this phase, while others just need to be able to express their questions (even if they’re challenging questions) without worrying about offending anyone.
INFJ teens often struggle with ceaseless perfectionism. They have a hard time saying no to people and often wind up with too many responsibilities and tasks and not enough alone time to process and synthesize information. Because they are so driven to complete each task on time and to a perfect standard they can run the risk of burnout and anxiety. It’s important for them to get alone time every single day or they won’t be able to access their intuition fully. This can eventually lead to a Fe-Se loop (where feeling and sensing loop together, bypassing intuition and thinking). When this happens, the INFJ will become overly-concerned with the opinions of others and impulsive and reckless in their decision-making, losing sight of their long-term focus.
Another struggle teen INFJs face is with the notoriously shallow nature of high school social life. They tend to want to discuss philosophical interests and big-picture plans and visions and they may feel bored with the focus on boys, style, and popularity. At the same time they greatly desire acceptance so they may “play a part” to fit in in high school. This inevitably leaves them worn out and can increase their desire for alone time at home. Parents may feel frustrated that their once affectionate and doting INFJ child is now more and more reclusive and isolated at home.
Empathy can also be a blessing and a curse for the young INFJ. They are extremely concerned with the emotions and moods of the people around them and tend to pick up on emotional atmospheres easily. If there is conflict in their friendships or family relationships it can be extremely stressful for them. They also tend to give emotionally to their friends to a very extreme degree. They will listen, understand, and connect with their emotions so strongly that it can exhaust them. When they finally get home they may find themselves quickly retreating to the comfort of their bedroom so they can recharge. If they can’t access this alone time often enough it’s normal for them to become burned out, anxious, and irritable.
Finally, with the growing power of inferior Se (extraverted sensing) INFJs may become more impulsive and focused on sensory thrills as teens. This often comes as a surprise to the people who know them. The INFJ may go from being a bookworm one week to getting piercings and going bungee jumping the next. This can be confusing for INFJs themselves; as they find themselves simultaneously pushed and pulled between craving solitude and tranquility and craving high-adrenaline activity. Some INFJs find healthy Se outlets like exercising, cooking, or engaging in a sport. Other INFJs fall prey to unhealthy Se outlets like drugs and alcohol use. Parents of INFJs should try to encourage them to find healthy sensing outlets and should also teach them about how to be safe in their life choices.
Want a comprehensive guide to the INFJ personality type? Check out my eBook, The INFJ – Understanding the Mystic.
The ENTJ Teenager
ENTJ teenagers are extremely independent, ambitious, and visionary. They tend to have strong, memorable personalities and are often admired by their classmates or envied for their confidence. They usually do well in school as long as they are challenged. If they aren’t challenged, or if they don’t respect the process, they may give little effort to their studies and instead focus on advancing their independent goals. Young ENTJs are natural entrepreneurs and leaders and have no problem standing out from the crowd and defying traditional beliefs or norms. They tend to be drawn to misfits or else people with vision and ambition. With their varied group of friends, they seek to reach some kind of future master-plan for their lives or a destiny that they believe needs to be achieved.
As a rule, ENTJs are extremely blunt and straightforward in their speech. This can be both a blessing and a curse in the teenage years. On one hand, it can give them an unquenchable confidence in their beliefs and an honesty that is admirable. On the other hand, it can hurt relationships if they don’t think of the emotional consequences of their words. They may find themselves making enemies or losing friendships that they valued if they aren’t able to learn how to re-phrase comments tactfully. Female ENTJs especially tend to struggle here because society still tends to pressure females to fit into more of a feeling or nurturing role.
Another struggle that ENTJs face is that of feeling stifled by traditional rules or still being considered a “kid”. ENTJs crave independence and opportunities to prove their competence. They need challenges, but if their teachers or parents try to stifle their independent nature or control them, they can feel increasingly irritated and vindictive towards them. They may lash out at people who talk down to them or try to treat them like children. This challenge can, at times, be a good thing! Some ENTJs become so determined to prove themselves and show their authorities that they can meet their goals that they go above and beyond even their own expectations for themselves and end up surprising everyone they know. Other ENTJs become rebellious and indulge in risk-taking behavior just to get back at their parents or society for trying to control them.
Lastly, ENTJs may struggle with making decisions too quickly without considering alternatives or different perspectives. Because their dominant function is Extraverted Thinking (Te), ENTJs like to decide fast and they don’t tend to enjoy mulling over the possibilities for very long. As they enter their 20’s and 30’s this tendency usually becomes more balanced and they give more weight to their auxiliary intuition. However, in the teen years, Te tends to take the wheel and young ENTJs may jump to conclusions or make decisions without considering all the details, facts, or alternate perspectives.
Related: Understanding ENTJ Thinking
The ENFJ Teenager
ENFJ teenagers are known for their generosity, warmth, and outgoing, empathetic nature. They usually have a wide variety of friends and enjoy the busy social atmosphere of high school. They often enjoy the tremendous variety of extracurricular activities that school provides and tend to excel in drama, class government, or even writing the school newspaper. ENFJs are usually expressive, friendly, and eager to understand the people around them and help with problems. They easily take on a mediator role when their friends have disagreements and are skilled at maintaining harmony in their environment. They also enjoy greater access to their intuition when they are alone at home. This can be a refreshing time for them and they may find themselves daydreaming about all the possibilities their life could have or all the dreams and adventures they can’t wait to realize.
ENFJ teens tend to struggle with knowing where their friend’s hopes and dreams end and their own identity begins. They empathize and care so greatly for their friends and they become so involved in listening to their problems and concerns that they may forget what they want for themselves. They may have difficulty forming their own independent goals or settling on what they want for their lives. They also may struggle with peer pressure. Because they desire harmony to such a great degree they may have a hard time sticking their neck out when they disagree with something. At the same time, if one of their core values is violated they can become extremely outspoken in defense of their belief. This comes at a cost, however, and many ENFJs feel exhausted, anxious, and overwhelmed when they’ve been directly involved in a conflict or confrontation with another person.
ENFJs very much need good familial relationships during the teen years. Parental support and guidance are paramount in helping them to figure out who they are and avoid giving themselves away to their friends. Many young ENFJs give so much and care so deeply about others that they lose themselves in the process, and that’s where the parents job becomes incredibly important. Parents need to assure ENFJs that it’s okay to figure out their own independent path in life. They need to tell them that it’s okay to ask challenging questions, take time for themselves, and do things they want to do instead of bending over backward for others. Teaching young ENFJs to put up safe and healthy boundaries and to employ self-care is extremely important for parents. Teens who have been raised with supportive parents in this way are often extremely independent, goal-oriented, and visionary in their life path.
Related: Are ENFJs and ESFJs “Fake”?
The INTP Teenager
INTP teens are known for being private, analytical, and independent. They have an intensely logical state of mind and usually will excel in school if they have any interest in their classes. If they find themselves bored or their interests lie elsewhere they may put very little effort into getting good grades or study. That said, they tend to have a natural mind for abstract concepts and they are constantly creating a vast internal framework of how the world works and systems are put together. This gives them a leg-up in advanced math and many of the more abstract topics that become prevalent in high school. Many INTPs remark that they got good grades with very little effort.
INTP teens tend to struggle with the often shallow and showy nature of high school social life. They are not usually victims of peer pressure, but they tend feel bored and disillusioned with their peers when they start caring about appearances, popularity, and other areas which seem meaningless to the INTP. I’ve spoken with countless INTPs who were victims of bullying in high school or who were ostracized because they refused to make attempts to “fit in” with the norm. They often keep their ingenuity and creativity to themselves in such atmospheres, feeling their efforts would be wasted on people they have no respect for. It’s important for parents to keep an eye on their INTP teens during this stage to make sure that they are not being physically bullied or emotionally abused by other teens. Let them know that you appreciate the way they are and praise them for their unique strengths.
INTPs often struggle with conflict among their parents and teachers because they don’t particularly care about impressing outsiders. While they are quite driven to reach their own independent standards, what the outside world thinks of them is far less important. They can argue quite logically in defense of their choices, and when they do argue it’s almost impossible to win. They’ve mastered the art of hairsplitting to an extent that is infuriating to many authorities who feel they should just “do as they’re told”. The trouble is that INTPs aren’t usually looking to be difficult, in fact they tend to dislike conflict. They merely see so many perspectives and angles to a problem that they cannot rest till they’ve sorted it out logically in every possible way. They must know the core truth of a rule or expectation and that truth must make sense to them logically before they will adhere to it. INTPs who are simply forced to buckle down and obey authority without question can feel frustrated, depressed, and misunderstood.
Parents who don’t know how to handle these arguments would do well to come up with a set of agreed-upon rules, preferably when everyone is calm and not in the middle of a heated argument. Each person should have a chance to express their needs, expectations, and the logical basis for the rule or plan. Try to refrain from making rules that have no logical basis or are steeped in mere tradition. Try to think through the rules you have and discern which ones are mandatory and which ones aren’t especially important.
Lastly, INTPs may struggle with the growing power of their inferior Extraverted Feeling (Fe) function. They may feel a push and pull between desiring approval from their parents or peers and a desire to stay independent and free from the concerns of others. Because the inferior function is one that all of us tend to feel ill-equipped to use in adolescence, INTPs may feel nervous and uncomfortable when people try to talk to them about their feelings and emotions or when they try to discuss their own feelings and emotions.
The INFP Teenager
INFP teenagers are known for their creativity, imagination, and depth of emotion. These individuals desire to make a real difference in the world and crave meaning in everything that they do. In the teen years, they feel burdened to find their calling in life and may feel overwhelmed with the many big decisions that are pressed upon them from all sides. INFPs tend to be hesitant when making long-term decisions because they see so many possibilities and ideas and they don’t want to limit themselves or cut off any opportunities that could be important in their journey. Parents who pressure them to “make up their minds” quickly can cause them great stress and disillusionment. It’s important for them to have parents who are willing to come alongside them, listen to their concerns, and help them come up with ways to combine their interests. It’s also good for parents to let them know that they can change their minds and that they don’t necessarily have to have a whole plan for their life figured out at such a young age. Validating their feelings is also vital.
Another struggle that INFP teens face is that of the growing need for independence from family, but the simultaneous desire to be close emotionally with them. INFPs care deeply about their family relationships, but at the same time, teenagers naturally seek to figure out who they are outside of their family role. It’s healthy and normal for them to seek independence and separation from their family, but this transition can be harder on the INFP than many other personality types. They may greatly mourn the process of growing up and separating themselves from their family, even from beliefs that they realize no longer make sense to them. Because they are so private about their feelings, they may simply look moody and pessimistic from the outside while on the inside they are experiencing a great deal of pain.
Another issue that INFPs often face as teenagers is that of not accepting or tolerating the increasingly shallow nature of high school social life. The young INFP must stay true to herself (or himself) and will feel a strong pull to express their individuality and stand against any kind of inequality among their peers. They have strong values and morals and their peers might taunt them as a result, mocking them for their emotions, their beliefs, or their inability to just “go with the flow”. Even though INFPs aren’t willing to bend their values, they still desire harmony, and they may suffer great stress, anxiety, and sadness as a result of these conflicts. What they greatly desire is one true friend who accepts them for who they are and will stick with them through thick and thin. If they can have this their teen years will go much easier for them.
Lastly, INFPs tend to have an emotional depth that is often misunderstood or belittled. They feel things so strongly, but at the same time wish to handle their feelings privately. The problem is that the intensity of their feelings is so strong that they may break into tears or become incredibly embarrassed if they are humiliated or offended. This is extremely frustrating for them because they’d prefer to keep their emotions private, but they can’t help the intensity of their feelings showing. Peers or parents who call them “crybabies” or mock them only make things worse.
Unfortunately, the teen life is not always easy for INFPs. It’s important that they have regular assurance and affection from their parents and true friends. They also need to be reminded that who they are is appreciated and valued. They need their sensitivity and convictions to be prized instead of mocked. Unfortunately, many INFPs do not receive this in younger life and it can have devastating results. According to the MBTI® Manual, INFPs are the most likely of all the types to report suicidal thoughts in college. They also are overrepresented among substance abusers. If you’re parenting an INFP try to be the stable, loyal and devoted confidante that they can turn to at any point in their life, no matter how hard times are. Make sure that they know that you value who they are and that you will always be there for them.
The ENTP Teenager
ENTP teenagers are known for their ingenuity, passion, and their knack for innovation and enterprise. They are generally very quick thinkers with a strong internal sense of logic that gives them a leg up in the debates they naturally tend to instigate. They are driven by their inspiration and vision of what “could be”, and are constantly scanning for possibilities and potential in the outer world. ENTPs are innovators, intellectuals, and inspirers; able to see opportunity and potential anywhere. They may be so drawn to new and ever-changing ideas that they struggle with maintaining a focus on one project at a time and completing tasks. They also may show little interest in getting good grades if a class doesn’t hold any particular interest to them or they don’t feel challenged. That said, the conceptual nature of certain high school subjects tends to appeal to them, and since they have such an innate sense of logic they usually don’t struggle too much with getting good grades in math.
ENTPs tend to be on the optimistic side as teenagers. They are full of ideas and genuinely look forward to the future where they anticipate meeting many of their dreams and fulfilling their potential. Because of this, they don’t tend to get caught up in peer pressure or many other teenage struggles as easily as other types do. That said, they can struggle with friendships because they are inherently blunt and enjoy challenging pre-conceived notions. They have no issue calling out a friend when their argument seems illogical or lacks enough perspective, and the ease with which they do this can be off-putting to some friends. They enjoy challenging other people, and while they usually don’t do this with any sense of malice, their motives are often misconstrued by authorities who see them as being troublemakers or instigators. The truth is that ENTPs truly love the art of debate and enjoy posing alternate theories and competing evidence to see what happens or if a real truth can be found.
The most common struggle that ENTPs tend to have as teens is the struggle of committing to goals or buckling down and completing tasks. They have an innate sense that they “could” do anything they wanted, and for many of them that knowledge is enough. They don’t really mind drifting and enjoy taking their time to experiment and toy with various ideas and projects. Because they are so future-focused they can lose sight of what needs to be done today to reach a future goal 5 or 10 years from now. That said, for as many ENTPs who remain drifting an unproductive, there are just as many ENTPs who ride a burst of energy to complete tasks on time, make their dreams a reality, and change the world. Motivation and encouragement from parents can really help in this respect. Ideally, they can walk a fine line between accepting their ENTP’s open-minded, easy attitude about life and giving them the encouragement to finish their projects and actually implement their ideas.
Related: 10 Surprising Truths About ENTPs
The ENFP Teenager
ENFP teenagers are passionate, individualistic, and visionary. They see a multitude of ideas and potential everywhere and are anxious to get involved with every possibility or theoretical avenue that presents itself. They are enthusiastic friends who are usually loyal and open-minded. They are genuinely curious about people and they prefer to get to know others on a deep and meaningful level. Small talk and surface-level interactions generally bore them, and they will quickly tire of the shallow social politics involved in high school. They are just as curious about the psychology of the cheerleader as they are the psychology of the misfit; although in general ENFPs are attracted to misfits and people who think outside the box.
ENFPs can struggle in school with indecision. In high school, there is pressure from all sides to stick with choices, make life-altering decisions, decide where you want to go to college, etc,. This pressure to “decide now” can infuriate them because they see so many options and alternatives that are enticing. They don’t want to feel pressured and they don’t like it when parents or teachers feel they know what’s best for them. They are quite individualistic and eager to remain in the driver’s seat and decide what they will do and when. Parents who want to help them narrow down their options can work as a sounding board by simply listening, repeating back their thoughts, and making a list of their ideas with them and an alternate set of pros and cons. Sometimes just having their ideas put into writing helps them to find a better focus or perspective for all the thoughts that are channeling through their active minds.
Another struggle that ENFPs face is taking on too many responsibilities and projects. They care deeply about the welfare of people and enjoy helping out in volunteer projects. They can be passionate spokespersons for a cause and they can work endlessly to promote ideas they believe in. The problem with this is that they tend to take on more than they have time to handle. ENFPs naturally tend to give ideas precedence over physical well-being (due to dominant intuition and inferior sensing) and can end up working themselves into a state of exhaustion or sickness over time. They may forget to eat, sleep, or drink enough water as they rush after their ideas and vision with breathless enthusiasm. It’s important for them to remember to take care of themselves and make sure they aren’t over-extending themselves.
Finally, ENFPs like to challenge and raise questions that can be considered “irreverent” by many other types. They like to question, shock, and discuss topics that many other types prefer to leave swept under the rug. They are excellent at arguing and renegotiating rules and standing up for a cause that isn’t popular or doesn’t fit in with traditional values. This can cause conflict between ENFPs and their parents and peers if they subscribe to a more traditional mindset or if they want to be obeyed “because they said so”. Growing up in environments that stifle their natural curiosity and skepticism can drive young ENFPs crazy and can cause them to feel misunderstood and unable to be their true selves. It’s important for parents to listen to their children’s ideas, even if they don’t necessarily agree, and be honest about why they believe what they do. ENFPs crave honesty and authenticity, and they are open to hearing perspectives from all types of people, but they just hate to be shut down and dismissed before they’ve had a chance to say what’s on their mind.
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