Eeyore (Melancholy) Personality
Eeyore, also known as the melancholy personality type is our organizer. He is the careful thinker, the one who takes his time and looks at all the angles before making a decision. I don’t particular care for the term “melancholy” to describe this personality because of it’s negative associations, so we’ll just use Eeyore from here on out. Typically the word melancholy brings up images of sadness or depression. While Eeyores do tend toward pessimism, a more correct definition of melancholy is contemplative or pensive reflection. Eeyore is a thinker, a planner, a consider-er. Nothing flits through his brain. Every thought and fact is held up for careful consideration, it’s value weighed and measured, and then precisely cataloged in his orderly brain for future reference.
In the world of Winnie the Pooh and the Hundred Acre Woods, Eeyore is usually found alone, sitting quietly. Parents may worry about Eeyore’s propensity for solitude. It doesn’t seem normal for a child to be happiest alone. Yet, for Eeyore, alone time is what he needs most. Being around people, especially noisy, boisterous people, is disturbing for him. Because he is a deep thinker and a less energetic person physically, he is more apt to stop and notice what others miss and then take the time to reflect on what he’s seen. He quite often comes up with the most profound pronouncements about his observations on the world around him.
At the bottom right of our temperament chart, Eeyore is low on the physical enthusiasm scale and far to the right side where the need to complete tasks far outweighs any desire to socialize with people. Eeyores get great fulfillment out of bringing order to chaos. Their persistence allows them to soldier on where others quit in frustration. Rather than getting frustrated at a challenge, Eeyore puts his considerable intellect to work and takes pleasure in devising solutions to sticky problems. Eeyore is the polar opposite of Tigger. Being around groups of people, expected to chit chat and be cheery drains the energy out of Eeyore. Given time alone for reflection and introspection actually re-charges his battery. While their slow, methodical approach to life may frustrate more animated personalities, it is a gift that should not be ignored.
This is probably a good place to remind you this description is of a strong, 100% Eeyore type temperament. Most children will be a blend of two temperaments with a little of a third thrown in. You will most likely find characteristics that fit your child in at least 2 of the descriptions. Add in environmental influences, being overtired or plain old emotional fluctuations and some days it may seem a child goes from one extreme to another, never fitting neatly into any description. This is particularly true for children under about 6 years of age. Before that age, much of their character is still forming and it is very difficult to pinpoint their temperament. It is still useful to understand the different temperament types. When a child is being extremely perfectionist for example, you will know it is the need to order and understand a sometimes chaotic world coming out inappropriately. Guide and direct those traits into their positive uses instead of trying to stamp them out as “character flaws”
You can usually spot an Eeyore right from babyhood. They are more apt to be late walkers because they don’t like to learn by trial and error. They wait until they’ve got it all figured out, then they get up and go. An Eeyore baby isn’t terribly tolerant of discomfort or crooked diapers. When they grow older, tags have to be cut out of clothing and socks are worn inside out so the seam across the toe doesn’t irritate them. They really don’t like things that are out of order.
While most kids clean their room only when forced and usually with as little effort as they can get away with, Eeyore makes his bed every day, p e r f e c t l y. There are no wrinkles in the sheets or pillows out of place, it would disrupt his sense of order. In school he is conscientious about his work, completing assignments fully and taking seriously the teacher’s admonition to read a book every week during summer vacation. The world is very black and white to Eeyore, he takes everything very literally.
Eeyore’s can be the easiest children to homeschool. They like having all their assignments clearly written down, all the expectations explained. They will methodically work through each lesson, in the order they are listed in the lesson plan, neatly checking each one off as it is completed before moving on to the next. They often actually seem to like working through a workbook. It appeals to their sense of order when they can fill in all the blanks on a page with the correct answer.
Conversely, they can also be the hardest children in some ways. A very strong Eeyore temperament is deeply attached to the idea if something is worth doing, is worth doing not only right, but perfectly. I know one young Eeyore boy who will hand-write an entire essay, only to throw it away and start over because he was not happy with his penmanship. They will spend inordinate amounts of time getting whatever they are working on, done to their high standards.
Rational and Reliable
Both Tigger and Rabbit are quick, and sometimes rash, in their decisions. Eeyore, on the other hand, prides himself on the ability to weigh all the options, recognize potential obstacles, come up contingency plans and avoid emotional decisions. They can be easy to deal with because they can grasp and accept rational decisions more readily than other children.
My son is mostly an Eeyore and he can be a real delight when it comes to explaining things to him. One day when we were headed off to dinner at his favorite restaurant, we arrived to discover a tremendously long waiting line. The hostess informed us the wait would be as much as a hour and a half. Since it was already after 6:00 at night, we were not really excited about the idea of eating dinner so late. Despite having his heart set on eating at this particular restaurant, even at 9 years old he was able to readily understand the disadvantages of waiting around that long and the advantages of going somewhere else to feed our already grumbly tummys.
Unlike a more volatile Tigger, Eeyore is more like Pooh in his ability to take life as it comes. Because of his need for getting things right, though, Eeyore will get frustrated if he feels whatever he is working on, be it a school essay or painting his car for the cub scout pinewood derby, doesn’t come out as he expected. Tasks are more important to him than people and he takes his projects very seriously.
All temperaments can be creative. Tigger is expressively, and sometimes wildly creative, Eeyore is more practical in his creative endeavors. They could both be excellent painters, but it would be like VanGogh compared to a Gongbi painter. VanGogh was abstract and free form, the Gongbi painting style is very meticulous and detailed. Michelangelo is a great example of a creative Eeyore. When he was commissioned to do the David sculpture, he didn’t just take up his chisel and start to hack away at the marble. He spent months in detailed study of the human form, going so far as to frequent a morgue where he could study the inner structure of bones and the interplay between muscle and movement. He didn’t approach the piece of stone until he had formed in his mind a completely detailed image of every square inch that was to be his masterpiece.
When schooling an Eeyore, keep this trait in mind. They want to fully and completely understanding something until they are satisfied they have it right. For this reason, they are very uncomfortable jumping from one subject to the next or one topic to the next. If they are interested in something, like civil war battles or how beetles make homes in trees, let them explore it fully rather than rushing them on to the next lesson in their book. If pushed to drop something in favor of something else, they will end up not fully digesting the first lesson and resisting the second one. In that case, no learning will happen.
For fun, Eeyore boys will choose to play with one friend, designing and building a Lego city over joining the soccer team. Girls will have one or two close friends who will cooperate with her in setting up a doll house and find enjoyment in placing each piece of furniture in just the right place.
As parents, Eeyores can be a rock of stability. They never forget to pick their children up from a playdate. They make great homeschool parents. They set and follow consistent rules of behavior, and they monitor their child’s school progress carefully. Children always know what to expect from them. The rules are always clear and routines never change.
Eeyore is an island of predictability in an often crazy world. They are geniuses of structure and order. In fact, most people who are classified as “genius” are also Eeyores. If academic excellence is the yardstick for high intelligence, Eeyore will win the day. Fortunately for everyone else, high IQ is not the only way to be intelligent, but that’s a story for another day. Eeyore does well in school, well in college and performs his job with excellence and reliability. He is never late and never goofs off. He can use his creative intelligence to imagine things that have never existed and use his analytic and engineering skills to make his vision come to life.
Get it Right
Eeyore likes everything to be done right and he usually knows exactly what “right” is, sometimes to the frustration of those around him. He can be uncompromising in his quest for perfection and it spills over into his expectations of how others should live. My Eeyore friend Tony was at the house one day when my son asked me to cut the bruised end off the banana he was eating. I grabbed a knife, dropped the banana on the counter and “chop” no more icky black spot. My friend was horrified. “You can’t cut things right on the counter! Aren’t you going to use a cutting board?”
I looked at him, puzzled “why? It’s just a banana.”
“Because you’ll mark up the counter top” was his confident reply.
“oh well,” I answered, “it won’t be too bad.”
I’m afraid my reputation is forever stained in his eyes. Anyone who would cut a banana without using a cutting board is clearly not playing with a full deck in his view. While this encounter was humorous, in a marriage or work partnership it can be disastrous, if Eeyore is not willing to flex a little.
Eeyores would do well to recognize that life is not always perfect and they can’t control everything to their satisfaction, no matter how much preparation and forethought goes into it. If an Eeyore is lucky enough to have the calming influence of a Pooh in his life, take advantage of it and listen to their insights occasionally.
Another area where Eeyores might take a lesson from others is in recreation. Eeyores live for the practical. They are hard workers, dedicated and thorough, as long as the work has purpose. Doing something “just because” is unimaginable. There is an old saying “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” Jack was definitely an Eeyore and in danger of becoming dull. Eeyore will typically not join the neighbor kids for a game of soccer, but he would be drawn to something that takes as much intelligence as it does physical effort, like rock climbing.
Eeyore kids are low energy kids. You won’t generally find one with an ADHD diagnosis. Obsessive Compulsive behaviors, definitely; but they are not hyperactive. For this reason, parents who are very active and sports minded, may tend to push little Eeyore into group sports. After all, Dad was a football star in school, or mom just loved team sports when she was in college, shouldn’t their child enjoy it too? Eeyore’s will be active, but they are much more interested in solitary activities or things they can do with just one or two other people. Biking, hiking, swimming, skateboarding, anything that doesn’t require a whole team to play will be more attractive.
One of Eeyore’s most prominent weaknesses is his tendency to depression. The flip side of their drive to get things right, is their tendency to get very down on themselves when things don’t go exactly as expected. Because they are slow to move, slow to speak, slow to change their ways, slow to make decisions, they are also slow to move out of the blues. They can sink very deeply into a negative mindset and instead of moving past their disappointment, they will nurture it, mulling it over and over in their mind. They will even looking for other evidence of their past failings to add to the current one until they’ve created an enormous tangled web of “proof” about how dismal a failure their life is. He’ll spend days trudging around, moping and generally being miserable to everyone because of some offense against him, real or imagined.