Born With Instructions

Carol M. Welsh

We finally seem to get parenting techniques that work with the first child only to find out that they don’t work with the next child. Why can kids be born with instructions Good news! When you understand your children’s perceptual styles, you’ll discover that they are born with an “instruction manual.”

Each of us is a unique combination of the Four Perceptions: Audio, Feeler, Visual, and Wholistic. When children are born, they are 100% Feelers. Although they will continue to have sensitive feelings during their formative years, their primary Perception will begin to reveal itself when they’re about six months old.

The following true story reveals how differently it unfolds based on the perceptual style of the child. Some of the mother’s actions led to discouraging results while others led to more encouraging results.

The principal desire for AUDIO Children is to maintain personal control and a sense of fairness.

I was sitting in the allergist’s office when a woman entered with her four-year-old, Aaron, and his two cousins, Carrie, 13, and Curt, 11. Immediately Aaron started acting silly. His mother told him to sit down and behave. “No!” he shouted and giggled.

He picked up magazines and threw them on the floor. “Pick them up and put them back,” his mother demanded. Aaron hurled them on the table and then noisily started rolling and kicking on the floor.

His mother glared, “Get up and sit down right now!” His seat barely touched the cushion before he was back on the floor again.

Aaron’s mother grabbed his arm and started to take him outside. Instantly he shouted, “No, no!” He had pushed the limits too far, something that Audios will always test.

They went to the toy room where Aaron grabbed a stuffed toy, raced back to the waiting room and threw it up in the air, giggling loudly. His mother was called for her allergy injection so she whispered to the cousins to ignore him.

Carrie said she’d read a book to Aaron. He plopped in a chair and soon started loudly hamming up the story. Carrie closed the book and refused to read.

Aaron turned to Curt who also refused to play with him. When his mother came out, it was time for Aaron’s shot and he impishly said, “No!”

His mother said in a firm voice, “When we get home, we’re having a cookout and then we’re going swimming. If you don’t behave, you will eat in your room and stay there for the rest of the night. The choice is yours.”

The change in Aaron was instantaneous. “I’ll be good.” Quietly, he went to get his allergy injection.

Aaron’s actions were motivated by his desire to maintain personal control. He wanted to show off to his cousins. When his control of the situation was threatened, his emotions drove his reactions and he became defiant.

Every technique his mother tried was appropriate. The one with the most encouraging results allowed Aaron to maintain personal control and he sensed the fairness.

The principal desire for FEELER Children is to please you or not make you angry.

For Feelers, their feelings drive both their actions and reactions. For comparison, here is a summary of the same scenario about Aaron, only this time he’s a Feeler.

Aaron was excited because his cousins were visiting. He started spinning around with his arms outstretched. “Whee-e-e!” he shouted happily. Suddenly he lost his balance and crashed into the corner of the end table. It hurt but he tried not to cry in front of his cousins.

“That’s enough!” his mother glared. “Come over here and sit down right now.”

With his eyes lowered and shoulders hunched, he crept over to the chair in the corner. He drew up his knees and pushed himself into the corner. He rested his head on his knees. Soon he quietly raise his head to wipe away a tear. Then he slid off his chair and walked with his head down over to his mother. As he pulled his shorts down to reveal his bruise, the tears flowed and he whimpered, “I hurt myself.”

“I’m sure it hurts, but it will get better,” she said matter-of-factly. She got up to go get her allergy shot.

Alarmed his mother would leave while still mad at him, Aaron threw his arms around her and said he was sorry. “It’s okay,” she said and smiled. Gratefully he reached for his mother’s hand and they went to get their shots. When they returned, Aaron showed his cousins where he received the allergy injection. “It only hurt a little,” he said proudly.

Carrie asked if he’d like her to read his book while they waited the required 30 minutes. He nodded. As she read, she had her arm around him. He glowed. Then he interrupted to tell her about something that happened in preschool. His face was animated as he enjoyed reliving the incident.

All was right with Aaron’s world. He was pleased with himself and he was pleasing those around him.

The principal desire for Visual Children is for everything to be perfect, just as they visualized it.

Visual children are usually obedient, unless they have to deal with an unexpected change. Then they might resist. Let’s revisit Aaron again but now he’s a Visual child.

Aaron skipped into the small waiting room. He was excited because his cousins were visiting. “Let’s play!” he thought. He leaned against his cousin, Curt, and started pushing on his knees. Curt playfully pushed back Aaron’s shoulders.

Aaron pushed harder. Curt returned the shove a little too hard and Aaron suddenly plopped on the floor. He giggled loudly and started pushing his cousin’s legs with his feet.

“Stop that,” Curt demanded. Aaron pushed again. This was fun!

“Aaron,” his mother said sternly, “Get up and sit down next to me.”

Aaron climbed on to the chair. With his shoulders hunched, he looked down at the floor. He wanedt to play and have fun but now he couldn’t. Humiliation engulfed him. What must his cousins think of him

When his mother’s name was called, she got up to leave. Aaron quickly slid out of his chair and tearfully ran toward her. She turned and said, “You can stay and Carrie can read to you.”

“But we always go together!” Aaron wailed. His mother stretched out her hand and he gratefully took it.

Aaron playfully tiptoed back into the waiting room. He smiled broadly when his cousins noticed. Carrie asked, “Shall we read your book while we wait” He nodded. As she read, he began to act out the parts he knew so well.

Visuals are natural actors. Their vivid imaginations expand on the stories, often in humorous ways. Aaron walked around the tiny room like an elephant. Soon he was another animal. Aaron was content in his imaginary world. He wasn’t rowdy and I enjoyed his amusing antics.

Although Aaron’s mother maintained firm discipline, she recognized his need for a creative outlet. When she started to leave without him and he protested, she realized he wanted to do what they usually do, get their shots together. Visuals like routine because they can visualize it.

The principal desire for Wholistic Children is to be treated like an adult.

Since Wholistic children see themselves as adults, usually they are well behaved unless they’re tired, bored or resentful. Then they will cry or whine or become testy.

They’re comfortable with adults and feel resentful when told they can’t do something because they’re not old enough.

How different is Aaron’s story as a Wholistic.

Aaron ran over to the chairs and sat down. He told Curt to sit on one side of him and Carrie on the other. This was something new and fun! He wasn’t just with his mother.

Aaron started talking about the allergy injection. He showed how the nurse squeezes his arm to make a “hill” and then gives him the shot. “That way,” he said boastfully, “it hurts only a little bit.”

Aaron pointed out the children’s books. “I know all of them,” he said. “Would you like one” he asked Carrie, hopefully. She nodded.

Carrie started reading but it was going too slowly. Aaron was quickly getting bored. “I’ll read,” he said. He took the book and started telling the story. He zipped through the book and ran for another one. He continued until all the books were finished.

Aaron’s mother got called to go for her injection. Aaron immediately asked if he could stay with his cousins. She agreed. When it was his turn, he asked Curt to join him.

When they came back, since the books were done, he started talking about whatever came to mind.

As the minutes ticked by, boredom struck. He got off the chair and crawled underneath. “I’m in my cave and if you get too close, I’ll eat you,” he squealed delightedly. He tickled the back of Carrie’s legs. She let out a yell and stood up. Aaron laughed uproariously.

He pushed his head against the back of Curt’s legs. “If you don’t open the door right now, I’ll bite you!” Curt parted his legs and Aaron squirmed through. The game was over.

Restlessness swept over Aaron again and he began to whimper. He heard thunder and perked up. “Can I go see the storm” he asked. Carrie volunteered to take him outside. The change was instantaneous. He went from looking completely wilted to a happy, bubbly boy, gleefully running to the door.

After a few minutes he burst into the room. “Mommy, you should see the rainbow. Hurry before it goes away!” Ah, the wonderful, exciting world of new things to explore and investigate.

Wholistics are creative and imaginative. At home they can play for a long time by themselves. Their fantasies carry them in many challenging directions and they’re content.

Can you identify your children’s primary perceptual styles from this story

About The Author

Carol Welsh, M.S. is the author of “Stop When You See Red.” She has over 25 years experience as a speaker and is a frequent guest on talk shows. Website is

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