I get many letters from individuals asking about their temperaments. This letter comes from a mother with a Melancholy child. Remember that a Melancholy temperament is very organized but can be overly analytical and critical. Here’s the letter:
“Good Day, I have looked at your website and found many interesting facts about the various personalities. I have a 10 year old very COMPLEX boy. He is most definitely a Melancholy child. Please advise me as to how I can get the most out of him, for him to eventually WANT to do things for himself, e.g. school work, sports, etc. It seems as if he goes through cycles of really not liking himself. He accepts compliments very skeptically. Thank you, Michelle.”
My answer: Michelle, you didn’t indicate whether you know his secondary temperament type — Phlegmatic, Sanguine or Choleric. His age tends to magnify the problem as he is about to enter adolescence which is a difficult time for the happiest of children.
A Melancholy is usually analytical and critical of others but not of themselves. If he is not naturally outgoing (possibly a Phlegmatic secondary) he needs to have some sort of peer group where he receives positive attention, activity and feedback. It probably seems like a cliche but activites such as Tae Kwon Do or other martial arts seem to excel in this type of activity.
If he’s musically inclined, get him a guitar and some lessons. Again the point being to give him feelings of accomplishment and to focus his attention more outwardly.
Whatever you can come up with to give him a feeling of success and divert his attention from himself should have the effect of gradually raising his self-concept. At the same time I would avoid competitive groups wehre he will have the tendency to be self-critical (sport teams for example).
Don’t expect this to be an overnight change — realize his temperament is inborn and that his personality is temperament plus his life experience and circumstances. The only part you can influence directly are the latater two.