ENTP: Everything's Negotiable
'If charm were money, he'd be a billionaire.'
ENTP children are energetic, creative, adventurous, and fun. But they can be exhausting to have around, both physically and intellectually. The most important part of all ENTPs is their highly developed sense of what could be. They see possibilities everywhere and are energized by talking about them and sharing them with the people around them. They are also driven to understand why the world is as it is and are motivated to try to change things to be better, or at least in the way they think they might be improved! ENTPs are logical and analytical children, eager to learn new things and explore with as few restraints on them as possible. Having an ENTP in your house is usually a fascinating, exciting, and challenging proposition.
The examples that follow are drawn from stories of real children. But since all people are unique, your ENTP may not demonstrate all of the characteristics described or may not demonstrate them with the same degree of intensity. But if your child really is an ENTP, most of what you read should sound strikingly familiar.Preschool ENTPs
Birth to Age 4
Nearly all ENTP babies are described as alert, active, and ready to reach out to interact with their environment, especially with the people near them. From their first hours and days, they are eager to make eye contact and hunger for human interaction. They may or may not be early walkers or talkers but they seem to have an urgency to push forward and grow up quickly – a tendency that follows them throughout their lives. They are very energized by being around others, usually the more the merrier. Eager to elicit reactions from adults, they will often perform with increasing enthusiasm. They are often squirmy, active babies who quickly become busy little monkeys, ready to climb on or off anything, and are eager to try to do things for themselves. Easily bored and always in search of a new challenge or source of stimulation, they especially like experiencing things that are new or out of the ordinary.
- Donald's mother taped the many congratulatory greeting cards they received upon his birth around the wall near the baby's changing table. Donald was fascinated with all the colors and patterns on the cards. But after looking at them for a few days, he grew bored and busy. So his mother switched them around and replaced some with photographs of family members or colorful ads pulled from magazines. Anything new immediately got and kept Donald's attention during clothes or diaper changes.
ENTPs are typically very active and excitable children. They become more and more wound up when people come to visit, and they appear to get an adrenaline rush from being with others, even people they do not know. ENTPs enjoy being the center of attention and are rarely hesitant about playing with children they barely know or talking to adults. Most will eagerly initiate contact and come across as very outgoing, confident, and friendly. They love to delight others with their long and engaging stories.
The early language of most ENTPs reflects their vivid imaginations and their innate love of learning. They particularly enjoy adding new words to their remarkable vocabularies and are constantly listening to adult conversations and asking the meaning of unfamiliar words or expressions. They sometimes make up their own language, inventing silly expressions that are most fun when they have the intended effect of charming or amusing adults. ENTPs often use adult or complex speech patterns, sounding more grown-up or sophisticated than their years. Word games, puns, and plays on words are a great delight to most ENTPs. One young ENTP girl decided that she needed to add the phrase 'whole world' to her middle name, just to give the act of telling her name greater impact.
Most ENTP toddlers love being read to and are often early readers while still in preschool. When four-year-old Denise discovered that she had taught herself, her mother remembers, she ran around in circles shouting for joy. ENTPs especially like fantasy or dramatic stories with high drama and adventure. They usually like to act things out and may ask to hear the same story, or particularly dramatic portions of their favorite stories, again and again.
- There is a pivotal scene in the popular Disney movie Beauty and the Beast in which Belle nearly destroys an important rose, which is normally kept protected in a glass case. The Beast catches her just as her hand is reaching for the rose. He roars at her, 'Don't you know what you could have done?' It is a moment of high tension, and it was four-year-old Tory's favorite part. He loved to hear it read, watch it again and again on video, or act it out with great emotion and energy.
- Leslie and her father had a nightly story telling time. They began their continuing story of 'Never Island' and each night added new adventures for the characters, with wonderful details. Even though they pretended that it was her father telling the story, Leslie was an eager and active participant, full of ideas and opinions about how to make the story better or more outrageous.
Preschool ENTPs are also great fans of dramatic play. They often enjoy dressing up and pretending they are action heroes, animals, or characters of fantasy. They are generally quite adept at improvising and pulling costumes, sets, and props together and can readily persuade other children (or adults) to participate in their fantastic productions. They enjoy building toys and using all sorts of materials to express their creativity. They usually love Legos and working with clay or paint, often preferring to make big and elaborate art.
ENTPs are curious and spontaneous children. They like surprises and are usually able to deal with unexpected changes in plans without resistance or hesitation. They may vocalize an initial strong opinion, but they are usually pretty adaptable. They like being busy and outdoors and are rarely afraid of getting dirty or reluctant to try new things. They may have a strong interest in nature and great curiosity about the workings of the human body. Rarely squeamish, they will press their parents for more and more information until they fully understand how and why the body works as it does. Many are particularly fascinated with human sexuality and they are not satisfied with answers that are unclear or indirect. Also, they have an uncanny ability to sense when adults are trying to skirt sensitive topics. Their antennae pick up on the discomfort of the adult, which intrigues them all the more, and so they persist. They ask an enormous number of 'why' questions and can leave their parents reeling as they try to satisfy their child's unquenchable thirst for knowledge.
Socially, ENTPs are usually well liked by their peers and tend to have a large group of friends. They typically enjoy group activities in preschool and are eager to volunteer to be the leader or to demonstrate their knowledge or physical prowess. They like games of all kinds, especially challenging ones, and are fairly competitive by nature. Young female ENTPs are just as happy to play with boys as with girls and are not as interested in playing with stereotypically girl toys like Barbies as their friends may be.The Joys and Challenges of Raising Preschool ENTPs
While ENTPs are exciting and stimulating children, they need a variety of different ways to channel their energy. Because they grow bored so quickly, they are rarely happy to play alone for any extended period of time. When they're awake, they seek constant interaction and engagement. They may talk so talk, and so loudly, that it can sometimes feel like just too much of a good thing. Because ENTPs think out loud, they can't help but interrupt adults to ask the many questions or make the numerous comments that just pop into their heads. They learn by experience and gentle guidance the subtleties of polite conversation. Their minds work so quickly that being asked or forced to wait their turn to speak often makes them forget what they were going to say. This can make them very frustrated, angry, and tearful. Patience is definitely a learned skill for most ENTPs.
ENTPs usually need to be moving, running, climbing, and jumping at all times. Most would be happy to have a continuous stream of friends and may be happiest with several children around at once. A rainy day can be a nightmare for parents and ENTPs who live in more rural places. Parents may find they need to plan ahead and have plenty of new and unusual tricks up their sleeves at all times.
In addition to their inquisitiveness, ENTPs are also very strong-willed and independent children. They are highly motivated by challenge and are always looking for ways to do things for themselves.
- As early as six months old, Claire was dressing and undressing herself in her crib. Her mother would go in after her naps and find her naked – with even her diaper off. Claire's parents eliminated this obvious problem at night by putting her pajamas on backward so that the zipper or snaps would be in the back, out of Claire's reach. Claire also wanted to hold the spoon at mealtimes, and hold her bottle; later she cried when her parents insisted on brushing her teeth. They finally resolved to let Claire do for herself as much as possible, so when they finally did have to take over a task, it would be the exception rather than the rule.
Claire's parents were wise to resist the pressure many parents feel to control or rein in their independent child. Because ENTPs are so proud, they really hate feeling helpless. They value their competence so highly that parents may need to hold themselves back from trying to do too much for these children. ENTPs who are allowed to try to do things for themselves not only learn how to do them properly, but they also get a strong message of approval and respect from their parents. And usually, children rise to meet the level of expectation their parents have for them. Insisting that you do things for them not only causes unnecessary battles, but also undermines their belief in your confidence in them.
Emotionally, ENTP preschoolers tend to get angry more often than they get their feelings hurt. They are very direct and bold children and can make their friends mad when they insist on doing things their way. Because most ENTPs have such good ideas and such confidence in the quality of those ideas, they can have trouble compromising or giving up their vision. IF a disagreement about which way the play ought to go ensues, they may choose to play alone, but more typically, they will try to convince or charm their friends into adopting their plan. When things go too far and a friend is hurt or crying, the ENTP may seem confused or unsure how to handle it.
- A simple argument over whose turn it was to play with a toy provided a learning experience for Bryan's mom. ENTP Bryan and his play-group friend Jeffrey struggled over the toy drum. The boys' mothers intervened and insisted that since Bryan had the drum first, he got to play with it and Jeffrey would have it next. Jeffrey was upset by the decision and began to cry. His mother comforted him, but Bryan seemed not to notice. Bryan's mother explained to him that Jeffrey was crying because he was angry and suggested that Bryan go comfort him. Bryan looked at his mother and asked, 'Why? His mommy is helping him.' The incident was unsettling for Bryan's mother for several reasons. She was embarrassed by her son's apparent lack of sensitivity. And she was also surprised because she was used to seeing tremendous empathy from Bryan for a hurt or endangered animal, but saw he had very little concern for his crying friend.
Becoming gentle and nurturing is a learned skill for young ENTPs. Parents need to patiently and logically explain the reason behind another child's tears or feelings, helping their young ENTP to understand why the child feels as he does. As ENTPs begin to learn that feelings are the logical and natural effect of actions, they will better understand and even be able to predict what effect their behavior will have on others. Not understanding what they did to cause emotional outbursts makes them feel stupid and incompetent. With time, knowledge breeds understanding, which can eventually become genuine empathy.
Because most ENTPs are such brave explorers, they are just not very interested in rules or structure that seek to limit or restrict them. Many times they simply do not pay attention when rules are stated, or because they are so easily distracted, they may genuinely forget the rules. But most times, their insatiable curiosity combined with their driving need to understand the rationale behind the rule results in a constant testing of boundaries. Most parents of ENTPs admit that their child is often in trouble for pushing limits.
ENTPs are also not as motivated as children of other types to comply with orders simply because they are told to or in order to please their parents or other adults. Even as small children, they have the courage to stand up to adults and will challenge their parents whenever they see fit. Since young ENTPs actually enjoy and derive great energy from arguing, it is usually better for parents to decide on what their position is, state the reasons behind their limits or choices clearly and logically, and then stick to it. It's fine and even advisable to entertain a certain amount of debate, but the ENTP needs to know where the bottom line is. Making a lot of exceptions to the rule will only fan the flames of the child's natural desire to find alternatives. Save it for times when the child makes a really well thought out and convincing argument.
Since ENTPs have little or no naturally embedded sense of time or order, they may have trouble understanding your need to keep their rooms tidy or to get someplace on time. Their style is casual and relaxed, and they are more likely to view frantic, rushing parents as ridiculous rather than alarming or inspiring. As with so many of the conflicts of child rearing, we parents sometimes get ourselves locked into a certain mind-set and demand that the child adapt to our way. It usually helps to save the confrontations for the really big issues and let the little stuff go. After all, will it really spoil some vast, eternal plan if we are five minutes late to the dentist? Consider the cost our children pay for being rushed and pushed to meet the expectations of others.