Rev. Susan A. Haberkorn
July 23, 2012

Have you ever found yourself in what seemed like a battle of wills with your child? Are you stumped as to why their behavior is so different from what you expect and want?

As parents, we often expect our children to instantly obey every command; and indeed, one of the Ten Commandments is “Honor your father and mother.” Elsewhere we are instructed, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it,” and “do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” It is important to do our best as individuals and parents to follow these Godly commandments. Do we, therefore, only consider our own preferences and experiences in trying to carry out God’s commands? I would suggest to you there is another dimension you may not have considered.

According to Psalm 139:

13For You [God] formed my inward being; you covered me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.

God created each and every one of us with not just a unique physical body, but also with a soul and spirit. The soul consists of the mind, will, and emotions. Therefore, God also has created us each with a unique soul, so each of us thinks and feels in a manner unique from all other people. It is in this unique realm of the soul where interpersonal conflicts often arise, including those experienced between parent and child.

A school of Bible-based psychology arose in the 1980’s known as Temperament Analysis. While the study of human temperament was not new, the application of the scientific method to study temperament is relatively recent. After conducting exhaustive research in the 1980’s, Drs. Richard and Phyllis Arno introduced an updated Temperament Analysis to the Christian and scientific communities through their foundational work, Creation Therapy.* Their book describes the three areas of the soul (mind, will, and emotions) in terms of inborn “needs.” Through their research with thousands of people as young as 7 years old, the Arno’s identified five unique temperament types that differentiate the needs that an individual will express or want in each area of the soul. No individual will possess all five temperament types, but it is not uncommon to see four of the five temperaments present within a single individual. This sounds complicated, but there is actually a very simple psychometric evaluation tool available to assess individual temperament. It is called the “Arno Profile System, (APS).” Certified Temperament Counselors administer the APS, interpret the results, and educate individuals about their inborn temperament.

How can this information assist you as a parent struggling with disciplinary issues? It is possible you do not understand some of the inner needs of your child’s temperament! Let me illustrate.

Let’s say you, the parent, are a very serious-minded, somewhat introverted and no-nonsense kind of person, someone who demands truth, order, and reliability in your life. And let’s say you have a child who appears to you to be flighty and irresponsible, exaggerating to the point of lying, always getting into trouble, maybe even seems hyperactive. Your child’s behavior “problems” as you see them, could be the normal outworkings of a temperament type that just happens to be at the opposite spectrum from your own temperament. It could be that your approach to discipline actually causes your child to respond in a rebellious manner because, while your temperament needs are being met through your disciplinary style, your child’s temperament needs are not being met.

The above illustration is just one of dozens of possibilities. Understanding your inborn temperament and that of your child is the key to understanding behavior and bringing out the best in both of you! A Certified Temperament Counselor can identify the temperament needs of you and your child and help you develop a parenting style that will bring results with your child while honoring God’s commandments to “teach them the way they should go.” If this is your goal, I encourage you to contact a Certified Temperament Counselor today. You can search for a Temperament Counselor in your area without charge through the National Christian Counselors Association (NCCA), by visiting their website at

For more information , please contact Mercy Counseling and Coaching at 301-797-6645 or visit our webiste at

Copyright © 2012, Susan A. Haberkorn. All rights reserved.

Author's Bio: 

Rev. Susan Haberkorn has been an NCCA Licensed Clinical Pastoral Counselor and Certified Temperament Counselor since 2011. She was ordained by The National Conservative Christian Church in 2010 and received her master's degree in Christian Counseling from Pillsbury College and Seminary in 2011. She resides in Hagerstown, Maryland, with her husband Richard.