Can SDI Help Me Parent My Children More Effectively?

Can SDI Help Me Parent My Children More Effectively?

The insights one gains about people through SDI is powerful and can be life changing.  Immediately after a training event I will get the question about whether it is possible to apply SDI to parenting.  There is no research on this topic nor have there been any articles written on the subject to my knowledge which I could refer you to read.  However, I think it is worth having a conversation and processing together.

As a parent, I have thought many times about whether my parenting style would have been different if I had received SDI training before I had children.  My three kids are all grown, and they have families of their own.  But I do think back about what I would have done differently as a result of greater wisdom gained from the SDI.

My first reflection is that I would have been a different parent.  What I mean is that SDI has changed me.  It has given me self-awareness about how I am perceived by others and what motivates me.  I have learned about my strengths and overdone strengths and the impact that they have on others.  I would have been more aware about how I deal with conflict and the sequence I go through when I got frustrated with my kids.  If I had this self-awareness much earlier in life, I could have learned to apply it to my personal life and I would have been a different person.  My motivations would have been the same, but my ability to control my emotions and work with others would have been impacted positively.

One of the greatest things we can do for our kids is to mature as adults in the way we relate with others.  Children learn from watching and then copying our behaviors.  Living out relational awareness with our spouses and others will have a lasting impact on our children.  The greatest gift we can give our children is a healthy model of relating with other people.  Teaching concepts is powerful but living out the concepts in the heat of life is golden.

Also, as I reflect on our parenting of our children, I do believe that understanding the differences in our children early on and their MVS would have helped us parent more effectively.  Psychologists tell us that personality is set for life by the age of 7.  Some will say that it is set as early as 3.  Studies have been conducted that look at personality traits at age 3 and how they predict personality at age 30.  These studies show a high correlation of these traits.  However, more recently more studies have shown that personality is constantly developing.  When you look more closely at these later studies, the focus is more on behavioral traits.  SDI teaches us that behavior is constantly shifting (buoy), while the motivation of a person stays constant (anchor).  I think it is fair to say that a child’s anchor is set early in life.

My oldest son is a RED/GREEN.  This was fairly obvious at a young age when we saw his curiosity and preciseness in taking apart a cassette recorder piece by piece and then putting it completely back together so that it worked.  This was at age 3!  He loved a technical challenge and was A+ Certified by Microsoft by the age of 14.  He was a logical kind of kid that was determined in everything he did.  If I had more knowledge about SDI before he was born, we would have been able to parent him more effectively by avoiding directly challenging him as we often did.  Our approach for discipline did shift over time because we discovered by trial and error that reasoning with him and giving him options was more effective than “do as I say.”

My second son is a BLUE/GREEN close to the HUB.  He was always cautious and cared deeply for other kids.  He was much more sensitive to our tone of voice and was fairly compliant.  We thought we were getting better at parenting with our second son, but we just had a very different child the second time around.  His struggle growing up was with options.  When he had options, he didn’t know what to do or what to choose.  We were frustrated with his lack of direction, but he was simply being HUB like in keeping his options open.  We didn’t understand and we kept applying pressure on him.  That pressure wasn’t helpful and caused a fair amount anxiety for him.  He eventually found his place in the corporate world doing what he loves and is excelling.  His ability to see things from every angle and being cautious helps him to manage millions of dollars in a controlling function at a fortune five hundred company.

Now we have grandchildren (5).  We can see the differences much earlier and we apply our SDI knowledge almost intuitively.  They are each unique, created by God by His design.  How we relate to them requires unique approaches, especially in discipline.

If you are a parent, you are probably thinking about your own children and their uniqueness.  Recognizing this early on will be useful in your role as a parent.  Giving them the SDI assessment is not appropriate nor necessary when they are children.  The language of the SDI and self-awareness required in reflection to answer the questions shouldn’t be administered until after puberty.  I wouldn’t recommend it being used until age 14-16.

Parents have an awesome responsibility to shepherd a child’s heart.  The more you understand about what is in their heart and soul, the better you are able to parent them.  Effective parents do not focus on a child’s behavior alone.  They focus on the what is going on in their soul – why they are doing what they do.  SDI knowledge will give you clues to discover those motivations as you observe your children (or grandchildren).

Children are just like us in that they were created in the image of God.  They are created for relationship.  They are looking to be loved in the way that God loves – which is perfectly.  Even with our sin and sinful nature, he sent his Son to die on the cross for our sin.  His love demonstrates perfect love of acceptance, security, and significance.  These are the three passions of the soul that can only be met perfectly in God himself.  As parents, we get to show them God’s perfect love.  These passions drive the three SDI main motivations of People, Process, and Performance.  Discipleship of the souls of little children can begin early as we recognize what a child really wants and is looking for in relating to others.

You can learn more about discipleship and the three passions in the book, Three Passions of the Soul, by Bruce Terpstra.  By understanding how the passions of the soul relate to the SDI MVS’s you will gain insight in how to disciple the heart of your children.

How are you applying SDI to parenting?  Share your thoughts so others can learn.  Your posts are appreciated.

Bruce Terpstra

Our President, Dr. Bruce Terpstra, has 36 years of pastoral ministry experience. He is a veteran of 17 years in denominational leadership and developed more than 70 new churches in the New York metro area and has given oversight to almost 400 pastors. He holds a doctorate in Leadership Development and is also the founder of 3KeyCoaching and the author of Three Passions of the Soul.