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I have an 11 year old (self tested) intj sister.

Some background information:


  • She's in her first year of highschool (we're in Australia, so the 'highschool' culture is different, than say the American culture).
  • She's a self identified enneatype 5.
  • She's very sensitive to criticism by 'older people' and she gets very distressed at the things our other sister constantly brings up. See below;
  • She's a twin with an esfp (need I say more? yes, I think I will. The esfp at her worst is; emotionally manipulative, controlling, a bully, offensive, will find out your 'weak point' and use it against you, often loud and obnoxious, shifts from over aggressive to passive aggressive).
Some things I'm concerned about

  • My parents don't attempt to understand her. Even though both my parents are withdrawn (my father is an intp.. I at first thought he was an intj but he self identified as an intp, and my mother is a very withdrawn esfj), they will make a big deal of my sister not wanting to 'go out'. We don't go out much as a family, but when we do and she doesn't want to go out, they alienate her, and seem to shame her. My mother also often asks me about whether there is something wrong with her, because she's so reclusive. My intj sister and I often joke about my mother. She is.. slow, and it's endearing to me, but of great annoyance to my sister. I'm often the mediator when my sister has said something quite bluntly, and my mother has misconstrued it to mean something else and ended up getting upset.
  • She is constantly pushed to stress mode by our other sister. Her more natural stoic self is turned to severe anger on a daily basis. If our esfp sister really pushes her buttons, she will not step down and ignore it. I hear her tell the esfp she hates her on a daily basis. And by god, she means it.
  • Although my sisters don't get along, as twins, their identities are intrinsically linked. They hang out with the same friends, they go where each other goes, they have to do the same things. For example, the intj wont try anything new, without the esfp being there. Some problems are arising with the type of people who the esfp has friended, who the intj doesn't like at all. But she hasn't made her own separate friends (something the esfp constantly brings up >:|). The esfp also turns everything into a competition, including everything from grades to "popularity".
  • Her one good friend from primary school (elementary school) has gone to a different school. They talk on facebook, but I know she misses her. She really truly loved this friend. And they got on very very well.
  • She has had self esteem issues since she was about 7. I remember when she was a a young child, and she was very smiley, playful, confident, laid back etc. Then an uncle and her sister made fun of her weight (she was never 'fat'), and then she became very withdrawn, refused to try anything new, or anything that left her vulnerable to criticism. It kills me, because she has a lot of dormant talents. I can honestly tell you, that she writes like a 20 year old, and has excellent control over language. Always has. Even as an 8 year old, she was gifted in writing and was always an above average reader. She is incredibly witty and funny. She's a beautiful singer, and has an excellent memory and attention to detail. She has amazing physical strength, and would've made an excellent swimmer. She has great hand-eye co ordination.
  • The esfp's strength was ordinarily maths, and the intj's english and writing. Suddenly, the esfp started wanting to focus on the skills that I and the intj were best at, and began winning awards and praise. The intj has become taken aback at this. She has mentioned to the esfp has "taken" what she "was good at". I imagine that she feels a little a little inferior, I guess. Especially when the esfp rubs it in. The esfp knows the intj’s weak point is to be made to feel intellectually inferior, and the esfp wont hold back on it.
How I have tried to make her life easier

  • Talk to my parents and get them to understand her (I think they are slowly getting it :\).
  • Giving her one on one time without drawing to much attention (We stay up until the early hours of the morning just talking nonsense (her silly switch gets turned on at night) and I let her talk about whatever she wants.. even if it is about a cynical comment about humanity and how stupid humans are (especially our mum) :crazy:
  • To help her with her 'identity': She doesn't like opening up, but she likes doing self tests, so I point her in the direction of self tests, or I interview her and ask her everything from her favourite colour, to her favourite day of the week, without being awkward about it (she likes doing this, and reading it back to herself).
  • I'm slowly making a profile of her interests so I can talk about things she likes to talk about (luckily she's into science, and i'm a science nerd :cool:) and give her 'things' to chew on. I.e. she's into comedy, so I buy her live comedy shows, or I take her to see a comedian (they have to be g rated comedians of course, because she's under 18 :\ but she loves dark, cynical, not politically correct humour. Oh and she loves when I make fun of myself, and also when I get physically hurt ^.^)
  • I defend her when the esfp is being a bitch, and I mediate when the intj doesn't know how to deal with the irrationality.
  • Earlier this year I debriefed her on highschool... and said it may be tough. I suggested that she may not meet people who are anything like her, but all you can do is make the most of it. Without meaning for it to be a compliment... (I just tell people things that I notice) ... I told her that I think her linguistic skills and all round aptitude are much superior to what I have experienced within her age group.. (her response almost made me cry. She looked at me very intently, like I had never seen before, and said definately "You know what? I think that is the greatest compliment anyone has ever given to me" :sad:)
  • I try to get her engaged in activities to do with her interests, but she doesn't react well. I think it's either a. my approach (which can be quite persistent) or b. suggestions

So I have some questions (I just want to get a general impression, I realise every person is an individual);

  • What do you think about what I'm doing? am I approaching this in the right way? I'm not an intj so I'm trying to assess what might be going through her head when i'm interacting with her... but I don't know what kind of feedback to look for, to get an idea if I'm doing the right thing. She will tell me if i'm pissing her off, I know. But whether what I’m doing is helping is a different story.
  • From your perspective, what kind of other things do you think I can do to make her life easier? specifically;
  1. How (and should?) I encourage her to develop her talents and get engaged with trying new things without seeming pushy?
  2. How should I approach her when she's pushed to the edge by our other sister (angry, withdrawn in her room, visibly upset and distraught)? and should I approach at all? or just let her sort it out?
  3. How can I talk to her about highschool and making new friends? I know it's not my business... should I talk to her about this at all? (or indirectly about social skills?) I don't want to be patronizing, but she has mentioned not meeting many new people. I know she doesn't need a lot of friends, but I've seen the way she talks about the thought of having to sit by herself at lunchtimes... and it does concern me.
  • What was early adolescence/adolescence like for you, as an intj? so I can get an idea of what may be going through her mind?

I know this is really long, so thank you kindly if you read this.
 

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1) Don't worry about that. That's her job.
2) Honestly, I'd leave her alone.
3) Not really your arena. I think that you're already doing a very good job. Speaking on personal experience, I cycle through about 1 extremely good friend every three years or so, so don't worry it much.

It's awesome that you're putting all this effort into helping her.

Also, for the bullet point: Everything went awesome at first. At age 8 I moved to a different state, on a completely different side of the country, and the culture was very different. I became extremely neurotic and withdrawn. I started to grow out of that with homeschooling, and joined the Civil Air Patrol at age 12, which was really perfect for me. Using that, I managed to develop my social and leadership skills while still remaining in homeschooling. I had about two very good friends during this period, but I grew apart from the first and the latter moved away. I ended up accepting that I idealize interpersonal relationships, and that I was bound to be a bit of a loner.
 

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I read the whole thing. I honestly have little to say. What I would suggest is to talk about the future with her. Ask her what she plans to do and why. Try to figure out what her goals are and help develop her skills toward such goals.



I mostly just wanted to post to let you know that you're a really good sister. Seriously.
 

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1. My best friend has always been the best at this with me. I tend to shrug things off as unimportant, but she will always give me books, or suggest movies, or other things she intuits that might be my kind of thing (or even if it isn't my kind of thing, but she wants my reaction to it), because I tend to absorb things, even if I wouldn't normally be drawn to them. She doesn't come at me with an expectation, but just offers it up if I want, and doesn't get offended if I don't give a shit about it at all. The best thing to do is plant the seed, and let it grow or die... and don't get offended if it dies. Conversations are always good, too. If you say something that sparks her interest... she'll explore it.

2. This is a hard one, because if you interfere, and she doesn't want you to interfere, it may make her angry that you're butting in. If she is at the point where she's over the situation, and wanting to get away, focus on the other sister and keep her occupied so the INTJ can be alone. If you want, after it's all passed, come back at the INTJ about an unrelated topic. She likely doesn't want to talk about the stuff that is bothering her unless she initiates it.

3. I honestly don't think there's anything you can do about this situation. I dealt with the same issues. I can't think of anything someone could have done for me here. If there's some way for her to find a place she can go for lunch every day consistently, it's the best bet. I always found an adult who was willing to allow me to hang around them and shoot the breeze during lunchtimes. Being alone at lunch times isn't so much of a problem if there's somewhere to be or something to do. It's when you're stuck in the loud crowded area where you can't escape to drown out the extroversion at work that is the worst.


I generally think you just don't need to worry much about her. Be a friend and advocate like you're doing, and just compliment her on her mind. She'll be fine. I was always able to adapt, no matter what was going on around me. (Although, I was a little bit of a sociopath)
 

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Discussion Starter #5
1) Don't worry about that. That's her job.
2) Honestly, I'd leave her alone.
3) Not really your arena. I think that you're already doing a very good job. Speaking on personal experience, I cycle through about 1 extremely good friend every three years or so, so don't worry it much.

It's awesome that you're putting all this effort into helping her.

Also, for the bullet point: Everything went awesome at first. At age 8 I moved to a different state, on a completely different side of the country, and the culture was very different. I became extremely neurotic and withdrawn. I started to grow out of that with homeschooling, and joined the Civil Air Patrol at age 12, which was really perfect for me. Using that, I managed to develop my social and leadership skills while still remaining in homeschooling. I had about two very good friends during this period, but I grew apart from the first and the latter moved away. I ended up accepting that I idealize interpersonal relationships, and that I was bound to be a bit of a loner.
Thanks a lot. I often need a bit of re assurance when I'm interacting with people.. even if I know them well. Because I tend to worry if they seem like they aren't coping :\ I know that she has her own ways of dealing with things, and I respect that. She's getting older, so her boundaries are changing rapidly in this period. It's good to hear some second opinions as to how they might be shifting.

Your last paragraph was really interesting, thanks for sharing.

I read the whole thing. I honestly have little to say. What I would suggest is to talk about the future with her. Ask her what she plans to do and why. Try to figure out what her goals are and help develop her skills toward such goals.



I mostly just wanted to post to let you know that you're a really good sister. Seriously.
That's actually a really good idea. She's in a bit of a slump at the moment, one might say. Completely disenfranchised by the schooling system... (well, mainly by her peers). I think she'll really enjoy talking over long term goals, because in the past she has expressed desires that haven't really fluctuated over the years. She has specific interests that are becoming more refined... and will only pursue things that have some sort of longevity or relevance to her future self.

And aw, @ the last part. What can I say? I consider her one of my closest friends and I love her dearly. Intj's really are beautiful people... (not sucking up here, k? they can be right asses too :crazy:).

Disclaimer: I also must say that sometimes I'm not such a good sister... I have a bad habit of not knocking on her bedroom door and entering rather dramatically i.e. "I hath arriiiiiiiiived!!!" at random intervals in the day. And obviously, this is rule number 1. on the "what not to do around intj's" charter :unsure: She gives me a look of disapproval that could make a grown man cry... heh.

edit:

1. My best friend has always been the best at this with me. I tend to shrug things off as unimportant, but she will always give me books, or suggest movies, or other things she intuits that might be my kind of thing (or even if it isn't my kind of thing, but she wants my reaction to it), because I tend to absorb things, even if I wouldn't normally be drawn to them. She doesn't come at me with an expectation, but just offers it up if I want, and doesn't get offended if I don't give a shit about it at all. The best thing to do is plant the seed, and let it grow or die... and don't get offended if it dies. Conversations are always good, too. If you say something that sparks her interest... she'll explore it.

2. This is a hard one, because if you interfere, and she doesn't want you to interfere, it may make her angry that you're butting in. If she is at the point where she's over the situation, and wanting to get away, focus on the other sister and keep her occupied so the INTJ can be alone. If you want, after it's all passed, come back at the INTJ about an unrelated topic. She likely doesn't want to talk about the stuff that is bothering her unless she initiates it.

3. I honestly don't think there's anything you can do about this situation. I dealt with the same issues. I can't think of anything someone could have done for me here. If there's some way for her to find a place she can go for lunch every day consistently, it's the best bet. I always found an adult who was willing to allow me to hang around them and shoot the breeze during lunchtimes. Being alone at lunch times isn't so much of a problem if there's somewhere to be or something to do. It's when you're stuck in the loud crowded area where you can't escape to drown out the extroversion at work that is the worst.


I generally think you just don't need to worry much about her. Be a friend and advocate like you're doing, and just compliment her on her mind. She'll be fine. I was always able to adapt, no matter what was going on around me. (Although, I was a little bit of a sociopath)
This is awesome. Thank you so much. Especially; "The best thing to do is plant the seed, and let it grow or die... and don't get offended if it dies".

Your second point is dead on. Our other sister has a habit of continuing to push when the intj wants to get away. She will bang on her door and carry on. Distracting her is an excellent idea. She also needs a lock on her door too, which I will get around to doing.

Your third point really illuminated some things I didn't think of/know too.

Cheers mate.
 

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How (and should?) I encourage her to develop her talents and get engaged with trying new things without seeming pushy?
  1. How should I approach her when she's pushed to the edge by our other sister (angry, withdrawn in her room, visibly upset and distraught)? and should I approach at all? or just let her sort it out?
  2. How can I talk to her about highschool and making new friends? I know it's not my business... should I talk to her about this at all? (or indirectly about social skills?) I don't want to be patronizing, but she has mentioned not meeting many new people. I know she doesn't need a lot of friends, but I've seen the way she talks about the thought of having to sit by herself at lunchtimes... and it does concern me.
  • What was early adolescence/adolescence like for you, as an intj? so I can get an idea of what may be going through her mind?
shoot i messed up your good formatting but im not gunna bother to fix it

1. i think your doing fine. just don't try to force her into anything, she has to explore at her own pace but it is fine to introduce new things she hasn't noticed yet
2. when shes on the edge your going to have to give her alone time to cool off then you can discuss it if she wants to.
3. she'll make new friends if she wants to. when she finds things worth getting involved i she will meet people. tell her what youve seen and heard in high school. less opinion and more fact. you can discuss the facts and reason them out to a 'if that were me i would ...'.

grade school sucked for me. i was picked on and did not belong to any group and my parents were workaholics except for the part where my mother had a breakdown and was consumed with her own problems. grade school would have been better for me if i had had some sort of personal guidance in education. Someone to put better books in my hands and show me architecture and art and science, etc. i wish someone had told me that getting good grades could mean going to college early and not having to stay in high school the full 4 years. i always thought there was only the 1 system.
 
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i wish someone had told me that getting good grades could mean going to college early and not having to stay in high school the full 4 years. i always thought there was only the 1 system.
That is also a good point. I went to university instead of the last two years of high school. I never cared one tiny bit about the social nature of high school, so leaving those losers behind was wonderful.
 

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Wow! I would like to congratulate you on your thoroughness in wanting to care for your little sister and perhaps offer an awkward INTJ hug for effort. I think that just trying to understand her is massively helpful.

I was going to offer this page http://personalitycafe.com/intj-articles/14613-development-intj-children.html but I see you have already been there.

Growing up with an ESFP father I can only imagine the lack of privacy when on outings with ESFP sister. Dad would say things about me which would be cringe-worthy from how different I am down to the amount of nappies he changed for me and their contents....GAH!!

I agree that she probably needs to be left alone in some areas to find her own pursuits. What wealldie said about planting seeds is a good way to approach.

The bullying aspect is a bit of a worry. The anger issues she seems to have are another. Perhaps talk through with her the reasons why she is angry (when she is angry) so she can understand her anger better. I know that may sound obvious but emotions are something we aren't likely to have a full grasp on until after it passes. It may give her some of her own insights on how to strategically defend herself as they come.....we like figuring stuff out for ouselves.

With my INTP daughter whenever she would get angry I would ask her about the person who was pissing her off and what she could see them go through (throwing a few sneaky devil's advocate questions without swaying too far from her "side".....kind of like teaching her to look outside of herself. By the end of it she would feel sorry for the individual for they weren't nearly as empowered or sensible as her. Then she would shrug it off. *post edit* I would always ask her first who I had to murder always really out there and absurd....and why she thought the person behaved that way....as soon as she got past the "because he/she is a $#@@!" She would get onto the reasons why she thought they did. Humour helps sometimes....we would plan poisoning the town water, killing the persons family etc etc ....yeah I know....

My adolescence was probably similar in some respects and vastly different in others. As I said I had ESFP dad who was controlling. I had a step sister (my age) who was always in competition with me. At a guess I would say her type was ESFJ and she seemed to just want more attention than me. She would undermine me at every turn she could. I did withdraw but that was a good thing because it gave her less ammunition against me. It wasn't until I left to live with my mother (INTP) that I really could de-stress and finally stay at the same school. I think maybe I was hampered by not having stability and space away from stepsister but it also gave me a lot of insight on how to grow, so none of the time was wasted.....INTJ's are adaptive. I would sit alone at lunch a lot in my new schools growing up. I could say that I was horribly damaged but I don't think I was really. People eventually found me and I made good friends.

If your sister finds one friend then rest assured that she will be fine. We really don't need many.
 

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  1. How (and should?) I encourage her to develop her talents and get engaged with trying new things without seeming pushy?
  2. How should I approach her when she's pushed to the edge by our other sister (angry, withdrawn in her room, visibly upset and distraught)? and should I approach at all? or just let her sort it out?
  3. How can I talk to her about highschool and making new friends? I know it's not my business... should I talk to her about this at all? (or indirectly about social skills?) I don't want to be patronizing, but she has mentioned not meeting many new people. I know she doesn't need a lot of friends, but I've seen the way she talks about the thought of having to sit by herself at lunchtimes... and it does concern me.
Hi Natalie, a very thorough post, I will likely return to post in more depth later.


  1. Difficult, usually what we prefer is if we pick what we want to do and someone promises to go with us that we are comfortable with.
  2. It is usually best to allow us to blow off some steam and then approach and talk to us calmly, don't go overbearingly emotional or physically touchy feely. This allow us to learn to calmly control our emotions and what they are telling us.
  3. This is concerning but the last thing you want to do is to encourage her to socialise with people who will offer further disruption. I recommend encouraging her to try making friends with people who have similar interests to her; for example chess/book clubs (if such things exist).
 

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Wow NatalieAnne, you are a great sister! That is very caring of you to look out for your little sister like that.

I read your post, all of it, and it struck me how similar the relationship is to my own esfp brother. I always joked that he dropped me on my head at the hospital and the relationship never really recovered from there. Growing up, we fought like cats and dogs and he wouldn't stop until he got a rise out of me. Problem was, as an intj it takes a lot to get me angry but when I am then it is far more angry than an esfp would be in the same situation. So things were more intense than they needed to be.

I would suggest talking to your esfp sister, try to find out what makes her tick and why she feels the need to push her twin to the edge. Perhaps it is a misunderstanding, i.e. she interprets her sister's introversion as rejection.

I would also continue to encourage your parents to be more involved. It is great that you are looking out and defending your little sister but I'm guessing she would want her parents to do the same. If they aren't protecting her from the situation in the house, then the parental gap will be noticed by her no matter how much you try to fill it yourself.

I wish you all the best. I haven't talked to my brother for over five years now. He thinks I'm a calculating biatch, I think he is an idiot. It's sad but family doesn't always mean you have to be close, especially if too much water has passed under the bridge. Given that your sister already expresses hatred at her twin on a daily basis, I hope this doesn't end up to be the case in your family too.

Good luck.
 

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This is odd for me, reading mentions of ESFP in a negative light through unhealthy characteristics- all of which I've seen manifested by ESFJ and ESTJ relatives of mine whom I've known during their varying ages between toddler-hood to retirement, but never from my ESFP relatives whom I've known all my life. Perplexing...

I agree, you are doing a great job of fostering your sister's growth. This thread is reminding me very much of my many older siblings in how they've cared for me and shared their interests with me to see if/when that metaphorical seed would grow into something personally fulfilling for me. I've actually appreciated my siblings far more than I ever did any of my social acquaintances / school mates and that's despite all of (sometimes thanks to) the conflicts we got ourselves into and out of between each other and together. I always cared more for my siblings' opinions than I did for the opinions of my peers, anyway.
 
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