The Child Archetype

Is Your Child Archetype Causing You to be a Brat?

Key Point: Your child archetype is the part of you still trapped in the feelings from childhood (it's not about being childish!)

Before reading about the Child archetype, you may wish to read the introductory article on archetypes.

Have you ever worked with a bunch of Children dressed up in big people's clothes? Welcome to yet another of the universal archetypes ... the Child.

We see the Child a lot in organizations, but we aren't talking about being Childish.

Rather, we are talking about a conversation, that goes on in your mind, that is trapped in the thoughts and feelings of your Childhood. Your Child archetype is the part of you that learned the concept of cause and effect.

The Child within you expects a protected life, a perfect life ... expects life to be very nurturing and safe. The Child believes that nothing happens to you unless you deserve it. If ever you catch yourself saying, "I don't deserve that" recognize this is your Child archetype speaking.

Your Child looks for whether life is fair or not. Whether you deserve something or not. For example:

  • "I've been working long, hard hours, I expect to get a promotion"
  • "I got the project in on time and it saved the company $50,000, I expect a raise."

When you hear people complaining, "We aren't recognized enough for the hard work we do", you are witnessing the Child in action.

Are you a good boy/girl?

Your Child wants someone to tell you, "You are a good boy/good girl".

Why is that?

Because you don't have enough genuine self-approval.

Each person deeply thirsts for their own self-approval. And, it is important that you come to grips with the reality that, the opinions of others will never satisfy your deep-seated need to like, love and approve of yourself.

Once you have found the path to successfully liking yourself ... strongly approving of yourself ... then the need for the approval of others will fall away. Sure, when the approval of others comes your way, you are unlikely to reject it. But you are no longer a slave to it.

When you consciously work with your Child archetype you will discover your path to self-approval.

Just as the Judge can protect you with its safe rules AND it can hold you back with its limiting, restrictive rules, so too the Child archetype can hold you back when it is underdeveloped.

How the underdeveloped Child shows up

An underdeveloped Child archetype can be expressed in many ways, (Wounded, Brat, Orphan, Magical) but there are two, that seem to provide leaders with challenges, when they appear in the workplace.

The Wounded Child

The Wounded Child is stuck in the pain of its Childhood - for example, "I am no good socially, because my parent's didn't care about me" etc.

Subconsciously, people who have a strong wounded Child archetype, are drawn to people who can provide them with the parental figure they often believe they never had, particularly when they are faced with difficult circumstances.

If you, as their leader, are providing this parental type figure, there's almost one thing that can be guaranteed. At some point together you are going to hit a brick wall. The person who has a wounded Child archetype is looking for you to make their world safe, and it is not your job to do that.

It is their job.

When you are over-protecting them you are taking away their power, to learn to stand on their own two feet.

Unfortunately, like magnets the Nurturing Parent and the Wounded Child seem to find each other.

So, if you feel that you are inclined to use a lot of Nurturing Parent in your leadership, you need to be very aware of this. Your job, as a high performance leader, is to empower others. In the training Understanding Difficult People, we explore more the challenges with Nurturing Parent leadership and what you can do to bee a more empowering leader.

The Brat

The Brat is given to obnoxious behavior, temper tantrums, fits of jealousy, and a chronic need to always be the center of attention, even if it is bad attention.

Any time you find yourself stamping your foot (either literally or figuratively), saying "That's not fair" ... basically having a hissy fit ...that's your Brat Child showing up.

The union delegate or the person who is constantly unhappy with the work conditions, no matter how good they are, often times has a strong Brat archetype.

Hot Tip

If ever you find yourself acting irrationally about something realize that you are possibly looking at the situation through the eyes of your Child Archetype.

This is not an adult thinking.

You become powerful when you can recognize that your Child has taken over.  AND, ask yourself, "Is this the right part of you to be taking action in this moment?"  Take advantage of the moment of choice.

Generally the best thing you can do is to take yourself out of the situation, until you are thinking straight, calmly and rationally.

The Brat at work

Recently, I met a woman at a lunch and she shared with me an experience she had with one of her team members, that morning. A fellow who seems to have a very extreme Brat.

She had asked him to do something for her, and the next thing he was picking up things and throwing them across the room, swearing and shouting, huffing and puffing. Of course, his Brat within, got exactly what it wanted, the attention of everyone in the facility.

What precipitated this episode?

This woman, had recently been brought in to run this particular department. This team member felt that he should have been offered the job, rather than it going to an external person. And of all things a woman! It seemed it had been only a matter of time before his Brat had to show up.

When someone is in a full flight Child moment, do you think there is anything you can say or do to stop them?

Certainly it is very difficult, if not dangerous, to say to them "Now listen your Child has taken over here", particularly when they don't understand this concept of archetypes. At best the Wounded Child will go off in a huff and at worst the Brat might hit you!

Help yourself and your people to become your own coaches. Share this information, about Archetypes, in a personal development training session, to help them better understand why they behave the way they do. When you help your people to better understand themselves, the better your team will perform.

The Natural Child

On a positive note. Your fully developed Natural Child Archetype is the part of you that is light-hearted, innocent and expectant of the wonders of tomorrow - regardless of your age. 

Fully developed, your Natural Child Archetype brings playfulness, balancing the seriousness of the Judge; it allows you to spread optimism, magic, spontaneity and enthusiasm to everyone around you. 

This part of your personality is positively infectious and brings out the best in others, as well as in yourself.

Haven't you had those days that felt like a Disney day? The birds were chirping, butterflies fluttering and all was right with the world! You bounced into work with a spring in your step and nothing, but nothing could stop you from feeling good.

Well, that was a day when you were feeling into your Natural Child archetype energy. The most delicious part of you and just how life should feel all the time!

People who have a strong Judge often try to squash Natural Child energy in the business setting - business is serious stuff! And yet, look at companies like Virgin and Southwest Airlines, where people have a great time and still deliver great business results.

Read the book "Fish! A Proven Way To Boost Morale and Improve Results" by Stephen Lundin, Harry Paul, and John Christensen, if you want to explore how you can bring some of the Natural Child into the workplace.

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