This month I am continuing with more from the book, Raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka. In this segment I’ll share another tool to help you better understand your child. Using your observations you can make adjustments to reduce the amount of friction in your family.
This month’s discussion is about Introvert and Extrovert. You may want to take a look at this survey. After you have used the tool for evaluating yourself and your spouse, come back to read some more so you may be better able to identify your child’s energy source.
“Traditionally the term introvert has been used to describe someone who is shy and socially unskilled. It’s important to remember that in psychological terms, introversion and extroversion do not describe social skills. They explain how we get our energy. Both introverts and extroverts can be very savvy interacting with people. Your child can be a very social extrovert, or a very social introvert. The key is what happens afterward. The introvert will be drained and ready for a nap or a quiet, solitary activity, whereas the extrovert will be wound up and ready for more action.”
Energy Sources for Introverts:
- Time alone– introverts are drained in groups and energized by private time. They need time alone in order to be able to socialize well.
- Physical space– introverts are drained when their physical space is invaded. Feeling crowded and hemmed in leads to introverts misbehaving.
- Time for reflection– introverts need time to think before talking.
- Uninterrupted work time– interruptions rob an introvert’s energy. Allowing time for your introvert to complete tasks restores his energy level.
Energy Sources for Extroverts:
- Time with people– extroverts collect energy from being with other people. Allowing your extrovert to talk, share experiences, and air feelings energizes them.
- Feedback– extroverts collect energy from the feedback of others. They are drained when they feel they are working in a vacuum.
- People to help them think– extroverts think by talking. An extroverts may not even need a response, but just need someone there to listen while he talks himself to the solution of a problem.
Knowing your own preferences and your child’s preferences can help your family plan ways for everyone to get their energy needs met. After you see how each one gets their energy bank filled, you can talk to your child. You can help her feel more positive about the way she responds to other people and in groups. You can help her learn to communicate her needs in a socially acceptable way.
For the introvert
What you can say that will help your introvert:
- You think before you talk.
- You enjoy spending time by yourself.
- You need time alone and quiet to recharge.
- You form deep and lasting relationships.
- Make sure your introverted child has an opportunity to pull out of the action and refuel by taking time alone.
- Help your child to understand that he needs space and can ask for it without pushing others away.
- Allow your introverted child time to think before you expect a response.
- Avoid interrupting her when he is working.
If you are an introvert too:
- Recognize your need for time alone in order to refuel.
- Let others know you need time to think before you can respond.
- Appreciate your own observation skills.
For the extrovert
What you can say that will help your extrovert:
- You enjoy being with people.
- You share your thoughts and feelings easily.
- You like to be busy.
- You make others feel comfortable.
- Your extroverted child needs other people to help her recharge.
- Provide her with lots of feedback.
- Spend time talking with her to help her think through problems.
- Understand that her need for people and feedback is not a reflection of low self-esteem.
If you too are an extrovert:
- Avoid isolating yourself at home with small children. Include outings with other parents and children in your plans each day.
- Recognize that you need time with other adults in order to refuel.
- Take time to talk through problems and issues with others before making a decision.
- Let others know you need feedback; you are not nagging.
There is so much more information and examples in Raising Your Spirited Child on this topic. When I read the list of statements for introverts and extroverts, my husband and I are almost purely opposites. Over the years we have learned to adapt to each other’s styles, but I’m sure life would have been easier while we were raising our kids if we had understood this topic.
I continue to send First Steps monthly bulletins to moms around the world who have asked to be on the list. There is room for lots more to enjoy this information. A number of the moms receiving the bulletins have children nearing three years of age. At three, they no longer receive monthly bulletins, but do continue to receive this letter. I’d love to add many more moms with babies or toddlers to the mailing list. If you have friends who are pregnant or have a young baby or child, please recommend them to me and I’ll send them an introductory letter. Thanks for spreading the word.