Friday, January 29, 2016

Parenting An Extrovert When You’re an Introvert

Parenting An Extrovert When You're An Introvert

One of our kids is an extrovert or rather he’s an extrovert’s extrovert. No kidding, daily he chats with the mailman, our neighbors over the fence, and his classmates at school.

From the moment he wakes up to the moment he goes to sleep, he’s got something to say, usually loudly. He’s also been known to talk in his sleep and while he should he asleep. One morning, I got called into his room at 3 AM. Naturally, I assumed that this summons meant that someone was either bleeding or throwing up. Instead he told me he could spell the word “idea” and wanted to know if I would like to hear him do so. (I did not.)

I’m an introvert. I like books. I like my close friends. Loud, crowded places make me cranky. Running too many errands has a similar effect on me.

I’ve known that both Mr. Outgoing and I are temperamentally opposite since almost the moment we met. But I haven’t realized that I need to take that into account when I interact with him until recently. I was re-reading Raising Your Spirited Child and in it she talked about how extroverts talk by talking. It’s how they sort through their thoughts and emotions.

She explained that extroverts may ask questions with obvious answers not because they want an answer but because they’re processing their thoughts aloud. The example she gave was a classic “me and him” moment. She talked about how an extroverted child might ask things like: “Where’s my pen?” or “Where are the scissors?”

Reading this was a light bulb moment for me. Every day when it’s homework time I’m asked “Where are the pencils?” or “I can’t find the erasers.” These things make me want to bang my head on the wall because the pencils are in the same place today that they were yesterday (and the day before that too!!!).

But now I realize, he’s not asking me to ask me. He’s just talking out loud. The favor of my reply is neither expected nor wanted. Instead of responding in frustration, I can just zip it. By talking, he’s already figuring it out.

The difference between being an extrovert and an introvert is often described like a bag of marbles. An introvert starts the day with a bag full of marbles. As she goes about her day interacting with other people and situations, those marbles are taken out of the bag. An extrovert starts the day with an empty bag. As he goes about his day, each time he interacts with someone or does some new activity, it adds a marble to his bag. Even though introverts and extroverts fill and deplete their bags differently, the goal is the same: a full bag of marbles at the end of the day.

One of the ways to “fill” an extrovert’s bag is to give immediate feedback or approval. I’m going to try doing this from now on, maybe this way I’ll be able to keep more of my marbles.


  1. Replies
    1. I'm relying on you - you're an extrovert!

  2. I had to chuckle at the 3am call to spell for you. As much as he is like Matt, I will say Matt never called me in the middle of the night to do that. Instead, I was always welcomed to the room with vomiting. I think back and would much rather have an invitation to a spelled word, even if I was annoyed by it. :)