March 06, 2006

What Animal Are You?

At MOPS a week ago we had a speaker who is a certified personality trainer. (I never knew there was such a thing!) She spoke about understanding our children's personalities, and it was very fascinating. For me, anyway--I can't speak for the others in the audience--but I have always been intrigued by personality analyses. In college I took the Meiers-Briggs assessment, probably the first personality "test" that I ever took. It was fascinating for me to look somewhat objectively at my personality, and then to apply the blurbs to my family and close friends to understand them a bit better.

Over the years I have since been exposed to other assessments like this--you're likewise probably familiar with the terms choleric, melancholy, sanguine, etc. I even vaguely remember reading something about animals, possibly in a book I read in college. So the information our MOPS speaker presented wasn't totally new, but it was definitely interesting to view in light of the fact that I am now a mother of three children! During the presentation, she mentioned that likely we will find at least 2 of the 4 animals that represent to some degree our children's personalities. In other words, we are unique individuals, and we can't be defined by X number of parameters. Still, it's interesting to see the overall trends and think, yup, that's my child! I know some people shudder at the thought of "categorizing" or "labeling" ourselves and other people, but I have no problem doing so. It's part of my Beaver personality. ;-)

The four animals are Lion, Otter, Beaver, and Golden Retriever. Their basic desires are control, fun, peace, and perfection, respectively. For the more visual learners, it looks like this--

Lion--Powerful--Desires control
Otter--Popular--Desires fun
Beaver--Perfect--Desires Perfection
Golden Retriever--Peaceful--Desires Peace

Now for a partial list of attributes for each one (when I hear you laughing, I'll know you've identified either yourself or a person very close to you!):

organizes and delegates well
problem solver
likes to be in control

In children, this personality expresses itself by being demanding, loud, manipulative, not sleeping much, and throwing tantrums. These children need choices so they can feel they have control over something. For example: "Which of these two outfits would you like to wear today?"

love people
love attention
life of the party
fun loving
hate isolation
love to entertain
love to talk

There weren't as many adjectives for this personality type, but she did talk about how a child who is an Otter is best disciplined by being in time out or isolation. It kills them to miss out on something!

like to research
good student
high standards
hard on themselves
can get depressed easily
avoid noise and confusion

A point I thought was interesting (especially given that I have the majority of these characteristics!) is that Beavers can tend to avoid being cheered up. They get depressed easily (probably because of our high standards that we can never seem to maintain!) but don't seek out ways to lift themselves out of their funk. I never thought of that as being true of me--I'm generally a glass half-full kind of person--but I can definitely see how this is sometimes true. Wallowing in misery is never fun, but sometimes it is mildly satisfying to throw oneself a pity party. :-)

laid back
avoid conflict
avoid responsibility
crushed by getting yelled at
can be selfish and lazy
go along with the crowd
hard time saying no

An interesting point about the Golden Retriever is that last characteristic. Golden Retrievers will be whatever they need to be. If no one is taking charge, they'll be a Lion. If everyone just wants to have fun, they'll be an Otter. If work needs to be done in an orderly fashion, they'll be a Beaver. This bit of information made it a little easier to figure out what my children are.

So...what are we? If you've read this far, you probably don't mind reading to find out what animals I think our family of 5 is made of! I picked two animals for each of us quite easily. I listed the more dominant side first.

Ted: Golden Retriever/Beaver
Me: Beaver/Lion
Charis: Beaver/Golden Retriever
Tobin: Lion/Otter
Arden: Golden Retriever/Otter

Just this brief exercise of "classifying" my family helped me understand them so much better. Tobin really does need control. At the same time, he loves people and attention! Charis is definitely a serious, creative student with high standards (except when it comes to keeping her room clean...this is where the Golden Retriever kicks in about being selfish and lazy!). Arden is my little people pleaser, happy and undemanding MOST of the time, and when he's not, it is usually due to A) he is the youngest child and getting picked on or B) he is a toddler!

I found it interesting that Arden shares characteristics of both Charis and Tobin. Perhaps this is one reason Charis and Tobin fight so much--they truly are opposites!

So, which animal are you? I'd love it if you left a comment! (And by the way, quite awhile ago I changed my settings so that anyone can comment, not just those who have a blog, so it's much easier. You just have to do a word verification so that Blogger knows it's not spam comments!)

Edited to add this comment: I just got a link with the lion-otter-beaver-golden retriever assessment that some of you may want to check out! It has a lot more characteristics than I had written down in my notes--and trust me, I wrote down everything she said, 'cuz I'm a beaver. :-) Especially check out the personality skit--very hilarious! Especially if you imagine people you know as those personalities!


Bob & Claire said...

Definitely Beaver/Golden Retriever here--maybe Charis will grow up to be like me! LOL! I am also fascinated by personality analyses. They can explain so much. A book you might be interested in is one called "Different Children, Different Needs" by Charles Boyd. It also really goes into detail about knowing your child's individual personalities (from a Christian perspective), as well as yours, and how you can best parent, encourage, and enjoy each child. It's interesting, and it has been helpful for me.

Anonymous said...

I'm a Beaver/Golden Retriever, just like Charis! I've studied personalities so much in the last few years, and it has helped me understand myself and others so much better.
I'll try to email you a really interesting one called "DISC" personality assessment. It's probably my favorite one!
I like the fact that you mentioned labeling is not always a good thing because once people realize that they fit into a particular category, they tend to think that's the way they must act or always will act.
I usually say that the person is not limited to these characteristics; however, if given a choice, they do PREFER one over the other. And of course, you recognized that in your blog!!
Like you, though, I love categories and organization...a demonstration of our BEAVER characteristics!

Megan said...

Hubby would be a Lion/Beaver.
I would be a Beaver/Golden Retriever.
Daughter would be a Lion/Otter.

Ski said...

I think I am Golden Retriever/Beaver. Clint is Golden Retriever/otter. Meghan I believe is also Golden Rebriever/beaver. Tabitha is a bit young yet I see Otter in her and some beaver. Very interesting.

Sarah said...

Funny, I've taken two versions of the test (the sanquine, etc and the animal) and both, for me, are overwhelmingly otter! My hubby is a mix of lion/beaver. I don't know about my kids. I'll have to mull that one over!

Tina said...

Very interesting! I am Golden Retriever & Otter. Husband is Lion & Otter. We're thinking Will is the same as me. It'll be interesting to see where the baby ends up! (Both James and I were VERY low on the Bever...that would explain why our house is unorganized--but that's not an excuse!)

Stephanie P said...

I have taken the DISC test also and I love it. I am a high C=Beaver and a High S=Golden Retriever.

Ski said...

For Ted as a toddler I saw him as lion/otter, a lot like Tobin. :)

Lizzle said...

I once took this on paper. I got a 4-way tie.

Is something wrong with me? Just kidding. I find it funny.

sccrabbler said...

Does anyone else find Lion/otters hard to deal with? I'm a Beaver too.

Anonymous said...

hehe wow Otter/lion otter was 34 and lion 18 lol yupyup suits me fine~

Anonymous said...

*i meant my otter score was 34 XD

hankandkaren said...

We have created an interactive adventure for kids using the animals so kids can discover their God given strengths.
Here's a
Special Note from Dr. John Trent, Creator of the
Lion, Otter, Retriever and Beaver way of looking at Strengths!

Welcome to Incredible Creatures and to an incredibly powerful way of teaching students and families about their own unique strengths, and how to value and blend differences with others!

More then twenty years ago, I began helping children and parents recognize and value their strengths, using “four best friends” -- a Lion, Otter, Golden Retriever and Beaver. As part of this Incredible Creatures kit, you’ve received a copy of The Treasure Tree which first told the story of four friends who learn to recognize and value each other’s unique, God-given strengths – and in doing so, make their way to The Treasure Tree. While individual teachers have used this book in classrooms of all types over the years, it’s been a dream of mine to see an entire curriculum created to help Lance, Giggles, Honey and Chewy’s story get their positive message of strengths and acceptance into classrooms and homes, world-wide.

It’s my honor to get to introduce, endorse, approve and applaud the incredible work that Betty Good and Karen Van Riesen have done in creating this Incredible Creatures Kit! Here for the first time, these two outstanding educators have created a curriculum and system for teaching strengths using the four animals that is simply outstanding.

Get ready for your students to rave about the creative, colorful and life-changing exercises and activities you’ll find here. Even more, get ready for classrooms, children and their families to change for the better, as each child sees more clearly their own unique strengths, and how to better value, accept and appreciate the strengths of others.

John Trent, Ph.D.
Creator of the Lion, Otter, Retriever and Beaver in Strengths Assessments
(Visit to learn more about a powerful online strengths assessment for adults and teams as well)
Karen Van Riesen