The Five Elements for Children

By Titanya Dahlin

Children have their own unique personalities, upbringings, and environmental influences; even within one family, children can be very different from one another. One way to understand who they are and to meet their needs is by understanding their unique personalities in the context of the Five Elements. Once you tune into children’s Elements, you can begin to predict their behaviors and create new techniques to help balance stressful moments.

The Five Elements in children look different than they do in adults. Children are exploring the world for the first time. They really have no emotional filters, social concept, or norms of how to behave. Little kids especially can experience a roller coaster of emotions in a single day, so the Elements may appear exaggerated at times. Helping your children to understand their own Elements can help them notice when their energy is imbalanced or when someone else’s is.

The Water Child

Fear is water’s ruling emotion. Water children can be very shy. They keep to themselves and sometimes have very few friends, although they will be deeply connected to the friends they do have. Water children will have incredible imaginations and will tend to make up entertaining stories. Time and deadlines like homework can be difficult for them.

If you allow them to their own processes, they will eventually meander into the perfect rhythm for themselves. Positive encouragement will bring out their own best work. Don’t force your own plans on them.

How to Help Your Water Child

Motivate them by inspiring their own creativity

Give them a quiet place where they can create their own sanctuary

Swimming lessons or waters sports will do wonders for their energy

Help them find their own voice by creating safety for them to talk

The Wood Child

Wood children burst forth with an attitude that says, “I’m here! Pay attention to me. They want parents and teachers to listen to their authority but they will also challenge authority and push boundaries. Woods like to take risks, such as climbing trees and jumping off of things.

Parents, caretakers and teachers must understand that saying no to Wood children without a good reason will not gain their respect. They will get angrier and throw a fit. Try to communicate more, rather than just yelling and repeating yourself.

How to Help Your Wood Child

Give them responsibilities so they can be leaders but with guidelines so they don’t go overboard

Introduce them to other cultures and social differences to broaden their horizons and help them be more tolerant toward others

Harness their anger by giving them a physical outlet such as playing a drum kit or practicing martial arts

Reward good behavior and accomplishments. This is much more effective than punishment for bad behavior.

The Fire Child

Fire children express outwardly, love to play outdoors in the playground or at the beach, and hate being cooped up inside. They love to laugh and are naturally funny themselves. They usually have a giggle in their speech and they talk with their hands. Fire kids love to be the center of attention and may appear self-centered wanting all of your attention at the worst possible moments.

During stressful times, there is so much going on inside a Fire child that tuning in to an adult while she’s in tears is very difficult. Wait until the acute situation has subsided before speaking with Fire children. When you do, make sure to use a calm and soothing manner.

How to Help Your Fire Child

Keep your promises as they will remember broken promises

Make sure they get enough rest to balance in their love of high energy activities

Wind them down early before bedtime because they can be so wound up from the day’s excitement that sleep doesn’t come easily

Enroll them in drama class. Fire kids have a knack for drama and being onstage can be empowering.

The Earth Child

Earth children make friends easily and love being part of a group. They befriend kids whom no one else will talk to; the ones who are either picked on or bullied. They will genuinely be concerned if someone is hurt, sick or feeling bad and they will try to take away the pain even if they are too young or small to do so.

Home and family are the most important things to Earth children. When their households are harmonious, they too will be content. When their households are stressful, however, Earth children reflect this in their behaviors, schoolwork and especially their health and digestive systems.

How to Help Your Earth Child

Give them important jobs around the house because they love and want to help out.

Encourage them to take more risks and stretch beyond their boundaries while staying safe.

Give them time to process change and tell them about the day’s activities ahead of time to keep the drama out of your day

Empower them to develop self-love so they don’t practice pleasing others before themselves.

The Metal Child

Metal kids are perfectionists from lining up their toys and putting them into categories to diligently working on homework assignments. They are little scientists always concentrating seriously on their work. Detail is part of their language. They will tell you, in great detail, what they observe, what is needed and how to make it better.

Metal kids don’t like messy activities, like finger painting or splashing in puddles. They are usually interested in outer space and deciphering theory, patterns and codes, so telescopes and models of the solar system are great gifts for Metals, as are science kits, magic trick sets and puzzles.

How to Help Your Metal Child

Give them structure with consistency so they can enjoy a sense of safety and support

Encourage them to play more and use humor and silliness to help them laugh at themselves

Specific compliments will go further in helping them improve than giving general praise. Especially do not point out their faults in public as this can be devastating.

Enroll them in stretch, yoga or swimming classes so they move more and don’t miss out on the normal aspects of childhood by spending too much time in their heads.

Special note: This article is an excerpt from Titanya’s Afterword in Dondi’s book -- The Five Elements: Understand Yourself and Enhance Your Relationships with the Wisdom of the World’s Oldest Personality Type System. Find out more and get the book here.