Episode #37: Archetypes of Survival – Child & Responsibility

We are sure most people would agree that it’s absolutely horrifying when competent and accomplished adults resort to childish behavior, like having temper tantrums, sulking, pretending nothing is their fault, or shifting the blame to others for their mistakes, to name a few. Yet we all do it – and don’t think for a moment you don’t!

All of us can abdicate responsibility or blame others in situations that make us feel insecure or embarrass us. When we see leaders fly into a rage because they are confronted or insist defensively that it isn’t their fault when employees miss deadlines, it’s hard to know what to do. Or when parents complain about their children’s behavior, yelling and arguing with them, calling them bad and shaming them for who they are, it’s not just dysfunctional… it’s destructive.

In today’s episode, we explore the Child Archetype, its skewed relationship to responsibility and constant need for approval – be it from their families, friends or managers. We’ll also recount numerous Child Archetype stories (our own and of our clients’) and share tips and tricks we use to stop making ourselves safe and small and so that we regain the driver’s seat in our lives. Tune in to make sure you don’t miss out on the gems we share this week!

If you want to know more about Anne & Heather’s work with dismantling dysfunctions in organizations and leadership behavior at Caliber Leadership Systems, check out:




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  • [01:33] Episode Introduction and Overview
  • [02:45] What is the Child Archetype?
  • [13:25] Relationship to Responsibility
  • [05:34] Importance of Integrity
  • [16:30]  The Child Leadership Persona
  • [27:44] Episode Gem
  • [30:10] Episode Wrap Up



  • When we shift to what we call the Child Shield, we start using the behaviors and characteristics of the Persona we need to shield us from the perceived psychological threat. When we use the Child Archetype as a survival mechanism, we act as though we have no power and remain dependent on others to decide for us.
  • The Child Archetype has to do with our relationship to responsibility. Based on whether we take responsibility for ourselves, our beliefs, our ideas, and advocate for them, or we silence ourselves and go along with the status quo giving our responsibility to others and remain dependent on them. We can also take excessive responsibility for things that aren’t ours.
  • The Child Leadership Persona has both a dominant and submissive aspect to it. As with children, this Persona can be bossy or bratty (dominant and autocratic) and insist on things being done their way or they can be submissive (permissive) and go along because they are afraid of the extra responsibility.
  • Do you feel like the folks in your personal or work life live from the Child Archetype? Listen to the full episode to learn how to start living from your Authentic Self!




"Deciding to compensate for poor performance instead of managing it is an act of self- disempowerment."
episode 18 quote tile 2 - "When acting from the Victim Leadership Persona, our power and sense of personal agency is taken away by seeing situations through a  lens of helplessness."
episode 18 quote tile 3 - "Self-disempowerment starts from within. Leaders need to recognize when they are keeping their self-esteem low."
episode 18 - quote tile 4 - "Leaders need to watch that they aren't being pulled into the position  of rescuer when interacting with employees."

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