Last month, I began a series that
deals with temperaments and
personalities, with a particular focus
on children. Just to review quickly,
our temperament is what we would
call our personality. We are born with
a temperament as part of our genetic
makeup. It influences all aspects of
our lives. Our actions and reactions
are wrapped up in our temperament,
and it is the driving force behind
everything we think and do.
Temperaments come in two basic
categories — introverts (quiet and
reserved) and extroverts (outgoing
and talkative). With every personality
there is a good side and a not-so-
The very strengths within our
personality also can become our
weaknesses. In fact, it is actually very
easy to be dominated by our
weaknesses. The key is to
understand a child’s temperament
early and then seek ways to develop
the child’s strengths.
Today, I want to talk about the
melancholy temperament because it
is by far the richest, most creative,
innovative and sensitive of the
personality types. The melancholy is
a beautiful and wonderful personality
at its best.
Melancholies are mildly introverted,
so they are somewhat quiet by
nature. Although they may have an
opinion or an answer for most
everything, they often do not share
Melancholies are highly intelligent
and very gifted. They love the arts.
Many of the greatest artists and
musicians of all time have been
melancholies. In fact, most
performers possess some melancholy
traits in their personality.
A melancholy typically makes very
good grades, has a retentive mind, is
analytical, neat and precise. They are
good spellers and precise
grammarians. They turn work in on
time and are very conscientious. They
enjoy studying difficult subjects and
appreciate the depth of the subject.
Melancholies are rarely ever lazy.
They are highly motivated and self-
disciplined and typically stay
physically fit. In fact, they are quite
active and tend to feel guilty when
they’re not working. Melancholies like
to follow rules and are very good at
Probably the two most prominent
traits of melancholies are that they
are very perfectionistic and very
sensitive. They are always looking for
the perfect mix in everything they do
and in themselves. Ironically, they are
the one personality who most likely
wants a different temperament.
They typically have only a few friends
because they internalize, are self-
occupied and prefer to be alone. They
are extremely loyal to the friends they
do have as long as you don’t betray
them or hurt them in some way.
Melancholy children are usually
model children. Because they seek
the approval of everyone around them
including parents and teachers, they
will need very little correction.
It is imperative that melancholy
children get involved in lots of arts for
their personality to thrive. Explore
musical instruments, art, theater,
creative writing and dance to find the
areas that are best. You may very
well have a genius on your hands
who will do something great one day
given the opportunity.
As melancholies become adults, they
are often artists, musicians and
performers, chefs, authors, interior
designers, fashion and costume
designers, set designers and
playwrights. They love jobs where
creativity and innovation abound.
Now here’s the key about
melancholies. Because of their very
sensitive nature, they need lots of
positive reinforcement. Parents must
be very careful not to overdiscipline a
melancholy. Their spirit is easily
broken, and they can quickly become
depressed, discouraged and moody.
Their overactive imagination can
think up all kinds of negative
thoughts, and they can easily get into
a blue funk. Because they are already
hard on themselves because of their
perfectionism, they don’t need
It is essential to provide constant
encouragement to a melancholy in
their creative endeavors. They need to
know you believe in them and support
As they grow into teens, their
creativity needs to be encouraged,
and they need activities which ensure
a level of success. Serious arts
studies are great for melancholies
because they will rise to the top level
if given a chance.
Lack of encouragement in a
melancholy teen can lead them into a
dark hole or down a destructive path.
Interestingly, Whitney Houston was a
beautiful and wonderful person with
one of the most amazing voices of all
time. However, she had periods in her
life in which her bad melancholy
traits overcame her and led her to
wrong decisions and wrong thinking,
causing her to feel that she didn’t
While family and friends cannot be
blamed for decisions melancholies
make, it is just good to know that we
can make a difference in the mind of
a young melancholy by giving them
lots of support and encouragement.
And we can open up a wonderful
world to these young people by
engaging them in the arts.
Last month, I began a series that