Labeled “The Investigator,” Enneagram Fives seek understanding and knowledge in a world that seems run by volatile emotions, noise, and power-grabs. The Five child may seem reclusive and obsessive to some, but there’s more to this information-hungry type than meets the eye. Let’s take a look!
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Table of contents
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
An Overview of the Five Enneatype:
- Part of the Head triad (along with Sixes and Sevens)
- Can have a 4 wing or a 6 wing
- Vice: Avarice
- Virtue: Non-Attachment
- Integrates to the Eight (The Challenger) under growth
- Disintegrates to the Seven (The Enthusiast) under stress
- Basic Fear: To be incompetent, incapable, or useless
- Basic Desire: To achieve mastery and understanding
Signs That Your Child Might Be a Five Enneatype:
- They seem quiet and withdrawn
- They frequently get lost in their interests and hate being interrupted
- They want to understand how things work
- They often have philosophical or existential questions
- They stay on the edge of groups instead of at the center
- They have an offbeat sense of humor
- They dislike it when people pry into their lives
- They dislike a lot of attention
- They appear low-energy or tired when around people
- They are highly observant
- They are deeply curious
- They have no problem coming up with independent sources of activity
- They don’t see the importance of social conventions
Strengths of the Enneagram Five Child:
Fives have the potential to be some of the most intuitive, capable, and original people in the world. Their perceptiveness and curiosity can lead them to make powerful discoveries about everything under the sun. In a world that seems increasingly loud, power-hungry, and attention-seeking, Fives take a step back and observe. They see things that other people don’t, explore topics that others find too esoteric, and independently occupy their time instead of needing constant attention. To the introverted parent, the Five might seem like a welcome relief. They dislike a lot of noise, interruptions, or chaos. They have an ability to focus intently on their area of interest for long periods of time without needing a lot of input. But that doesn’t mean these children don’t need affection, play, conversations, or social interactions! Taking action and being able to interact with the outside world is a crucial component of being a healthy Five.
The Five often has strong powers of concentration. They are likely to get to school on time in order to avoid being noticed. They also have a genuine love of learning and will spend countless hours exploring niche subjects that fascinate them.
I have a daughter who is a Five, and she spent a year researching fig trees and learning everything she could about the different varieties of figs. There’s nothing about fig trees she couldn’t tell you!
Struggles of the Enneagram Five Child:
Fives are such deep thinkers, even as children, that they can forget or delay to take action. Their core fear, to be incompetent or useless, can keep them hidden away, forever learning, never doing. They often see the world outside themselves as unpredictable and threatening, so they try to acquire skills and mastery in specific areas so they can forge their way comfortably in their environment.
Another difficulty that young Fives face is struggling to connect emotionally with people. They often fear being influenced by others and worry about being overwhelmed by them. Even simple tasks can seem overwhelming to them and they may frequently complain about simple chores, social engagements, or obligations. Their fear of being overwhelmed by others can lead to a life of loneliness, eccentricity, and anxiety.
Extroverted parents may pressure young Fives to be more expressive, spend more time with people, or take action. In healthy doses, this can be a good thing. If this is a constant pressure than it will cause a great deal of stress and frustration for the Five. They will begin to feel that they are a failure in their parent’s eyes and retreat more or obsess more over a topic that might give them some expertise or feelings of competence.
Healthy Five children won’t detach from their environment because they feel confident and safe in it. They test themselves and their theories. They learn, observe, and experiment.
Unhealthy Fives detach from their environment and may develop obsessions with things they find scary or dark. They hope that if they face the darkness they will realize they are strong enough to cope with it. The only problem is, they tend to only frighten themselves and project those fears on the outside world. As a coping mechanism, they retreat more into their inner worlds and become more detached from the world outside themselves.
Tips for Parenting an Enneagram Five Child:
- Realize that there’s nothing wrong with them when they want to spend time alone. Don’t give them the impression that they are inadequate because they are independently driven and occupied.
- Change can be frightening for the Five. Walk them through changes step-by-step and help them get comfortable with new things.
- Fives don’t like being the center of attention. If they have done something wrong, don’t publicly correct or criticize them. Take them aside and deal with the matter quietly so they don’t feel overwhelmed. It’s best to avoid both parents critiquing them at the same time as well.
- Try not to barge into a Five’s room during their alone time. Realize that they may lash out when they are interrupted.
- Realize that Fives want rational reasons for rules and guidelines. While they may dislike making waves, they also want to know that their actions make sense. Realize that saying “Because I told you so” might only invite arguments and disdain.
- Show confidence in your child. Praise them for their accomplishments and knowledge. Notice their interests and help them bring those interests into the world outside. For example, if they are interested in gardening, take them outside and start a garden with them or take them to a class where they can learn more about gardening.
- Try to balance alone time for your child with interaction. Take note of their interests and encourage them to experiment with those interests through classes, activities, and friendships.
- Let your child know that you enjoy spending time with them. Listen to them when they talk about their interests, even if it seems like too much detail to you.
- Respect your child’s alone time. Understand that if they want to be alone it isn’t an insinuation that they don’t need or like you.
- Validate your child’s feelings and opinions whenever you can.
- Make time to do things your child enjoys with them. Fives often feel like outsiders, especially if their parents are always busy or distracted. Show an interest in their music, movies, books, and projects. Connect with them one-on-one.
Other Articles You Might Enjoy:
Personality Types – Using the Enneagram for Self Discovery by Don Richard Riso with Russ Hudson
The Enneagram of Parenting by Elizabeth Wagele