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The Enneagram of Parenting (Reviews)

The 9 Types of Children and How to Raise Them


Clarence Thomson in The Enneagram Educator:

“…Wagele knows the enneagram thoroughly (she co-authored the highly popular Enneagram Made Easy) and knows children from raising four and doing extensive interviewing. With cartoons, sophisticated psychology and good clear writing, she helps parents raise their children using the insights of the energies of the enneagram. Easy to read and understand, deceptively profound and thoroughly helpful. This [book] works.”


From The Enneagram Monthly, June 1997
Reviewed by Ginny Cusack

If you are a parent, or were a child, don’t miss reading the latest book by Elizabeth Wagele. Her book, The Enneagram of Parenting/ The 9 Types of Children and How to Raise Them, captures the essentials of the personality types as they relate to children. You’ll see your children and yourself, gain many new insights and have some good laughs. Wagele, a Five, understands the Enneagram, applies it to children, and makes it simple and to the point. The style and format of the book is similar to Wagele’s previous books, The Enneagram Made Easy and Are You My Type, Am I Yours?: Relationships Made Easy Through the Enneagram, which she co-authored with Renee Baron.

….Wagele says that “the Enneagram helps parents see children more in alignment with how the children experience themselves.” … The purpose is to show parents that all children are not the same. Parents know this intuitively, but the Enneagram gives us a way to describe and clarify it concretely and systematically.

Each of the nine chapters begins with a Personality Quiz in which the parent is asked…, “Does your child…?” followed by eight questions. …. For my Four daughter, the answers to, “Does your child want to be special, have a closet full of clothes, enjoy the arts or collect beautiful treasures, look at things in a creative or special way, seem depressed or melancholy at times?” were a definite “yes.” It was a “yes” also for my Eight son who I recall had “a great deal of energy and strength, showed anger and dissatisfaction freely, made his presence known, gave teachers and baby-sitters a hard time.

In the pages following, Wagele, a professional cartoonist, uses her talent, humor, and understanding of the Enneagram to describe characteristics of each Type using cartoons. The drawings accompanied by characteristics are right on target. If you have a sense of humor about yourself and your child, you will have some fun. In one cartoon there is an Eight child saying, “You’ll stay in the corner until I want my dinner!” while her parents, sucking their thumbs, are standing sheepishly together in the corner. The caption reads, “Sometimes they seize control of their parents.” So true for many parents who have an Eight child.

Another cartoon is the Seven cat who is thinking, “I deserve it,” as he looks at ten cans of cat food. A characteristic caption over the picture says, “Idealistic, love what the world has to offer and feel good about themselves”. The Three child is described as wanting to look good. This description is followed by a picture of two moms each pushing a child in a stroller. One child says to the other child, “Do you like traveling in a piece of junk?”

The cartoons that will get the most laughs and are the most pithy and to the point are The Enneagrams of Blankies, Embryos, Adolescence, and Nosebleeds. Be hind the cartoons, however, is the truth of it and a clear picture of how the differences in children ring loud and true. Here we can see most clearly that children are different. In The Enneagram of Embryos, the Nine is thinking, “Can’t I just stay in here? It’s so nice and warm.” Whereas the Six is asking, “What if they don’t like babies? What if my mattress is too hard? What if I don’t like their food?” In the Enneagram of Blankies the Five is sitting under the Blankie, while the Two is saying, “What you need is a blankie.” If you have or had children going through adolescence, be sure to read the Enneagram of Adolescence. What’s fun is sitting around with a group of adults and their adult children who know the Enneagram well and can laugh at themselves.

In the second half of each chapter is a section entitled “Approaching Ten Common Problems With a Child in a Particular Style.” The problems include:

      • getting to school on time
      • study habits
      • manners
      • getting along with others
      • sleeping and eating habits
      • standing up for him or herself
      • decision making
      • get-up and go
      • responsibility
      • emotional maturity

Wagele outlines potential problems and parenting suggestions for each type… Under “Study Habits” the author suggests to parents of the Six child to “ease the stress and anxiety of all children by teaching them to do their homework right after school and to start reports the day the assignment is given.” In “Getting Along with Others” a parent’s response to the rage exhibited by the Six child should be to “remain calm, and let your child’s anger wind down by itself instead of overreacting or fighting against it.” For “Decision Making,” parents can help a Two child who is “often out of touch with their desires” by “playing a game to help where all the members of the family present and defend their opinions about a chosen subject.” Under the area of “Responsibility,” parents may become too dependent on the One child’s goodness and helpfulness. One-ish children need to be “encouraged to be playful and silly and do things they really enjoy” rather than parents pressuring them “to get results that make parents feel they are doing a good job of parenting.”

Some types may have problems in areas where other types may not…. For example, the problem of “Emotional Maturity” can be more of an obvious problem for the Eight-ish child than for the Nine child. Wagele writes that “Eight-ish children are often immature when it comes to controlling their anger. They can go nuts if they accidentally get bumped, for instance, or if something doesn’t work right. They need firm, structured and patient parents who can teach them how to get their minds on something else when they’re angry.” Nine children are thought of as “really sweet.” Quite a contrast to the Eight. On the other hand when it comes to responsibility, Nine children “sometimes procrastinate, get side tracked.” The Eight is “usually good at taking care of a younger child or pet or protecting a loved one.”

The other half of the picture is the parent knowing his/her type and how that impacts the parent-child relationship. Wagele gives brief stories and descriptions of each type as it relates to a parenting style. Wagele captures the core of each type and how that type plays out the parenting role…. One parents, who can be firm and structured, which allows the young child to feel secure, may need to be more flexible as the children get older. Fives may find it difficult to be present to their children, so “perhaps they’d feel comfortable setting aside a chunk of time each day for being truly present with their child.”

At the end of the book, Wagele presents “Twenty Additional Problem Areas.” …. She begins the chapter with “now that you’ve been introduced to the nine styles of children and learned something about adult Enneagram Types, see how you can apply this knowledge to your family.”… what Wagele writes is accurate and well presented…..

As a parent educator and Enneagram instructor, I have great respect for combining the two disciplines, parenting and the Enneagram. ….Problems may originate because a parent is a certain type. For example, a Nine parent with an Eight child may be… in the wrong roles…. The Nine, who wants to keep peace, may not provide or follow through with limits for the Eight child who wants to be in control….

I enjoyed the book and recommend it not only to understand your children, but to understand yourself as a child. I have read Wagele’s other two books and found them to be pithy and to the point, and most of all enjoyable. As an Enneagram instructor, I have used the cartoons from The Enneagram Made Easy a number of times in my workshops to help participants “get the point” and have some fun. Wagele does a marvelous job in capturing the essence of the Enneagram and making it humorous. For this reason, I will use The Enneagram of Parenting many times in my parenting and Enneagram classes.

_______________Ginny Cusack is Director of Princeton Center for Teacher Education, a Parent Educator at the Princeton Montessori School, Princeton, NJ, and a certified Riso-Hudson Enneagram teacher.


I am a psychiatrist, but all of us who are trying to be good parents tend to try to treat our children like we wish we had been treated: in my case I have a natural tendency to try to provide my children with as many stimulating opportunities as possible. But I am a 7 in the Enneagram system and my children are not! So it is a constant reminder for me that my little 9 daughter would rather cuddle than go to theme parks, while my little 8 daughter wants more and more action! Elizaeth has written a fabulous, concise, book reminding us of the interactions between parents of one type and children of another. A book that is both essential and ahead of its time.
reviewed by alexis on November 28, 2006 11:06 PM.

Chiori Santiago in Diablo:

“A few years ago, East Bay therapist Renee Baron teamed up with illustrator Elizabeth Wagele to produce a lighthearted, simplified guide entitled The Enneagram Made Easy. The book was an immediate hit, and it’s still one of the best selling guides to the Enneagram. This month, HarperSanFrancisco issues Wagele’s book The Enneagram of Parenting. Filled with her witty cartoons, the book describes “nine styles of children,” gives tips to help parents determine your child’s personality style and suggests strategies for coping with each.”

“The Enneagram can show you whether you’re unconsciously expecting your child to be an imitation of you.”

“‘Parents need to examine themselves,’ Wagele says. ‘Sometimes they can be shocked by how different they are from their kids. The enneagram can open their eyes and allow them to see differences they knew were there but didn’t want to admit. For me, that made parenting more exciting because I changed from thinking I could do something to change my kids to watching them develop and getting to know them.'”

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