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How can an extrovert raise an introvert?


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#1 Kylie Orr

Posted 12 February 2015 - 04:55 PM

My husband is an introvert and it seems we are raising a diffidence of miniature introverts. As a self-diagnosed extrovert, my ability to understand and accept my children’s introverted traits as personality features rather than blights on their social abilities has been treacherous.

My four-year-old daughter is publicly mute. She chooses not to speak to other people, on purpose. She’s learned to say “I’m shy” because that’s how I’ve always excused her non-compliance, her ignorance of people’s hellos and her inability to even look at an adult. I’ve been asked if she speaks at all. At home she is a motor mouth extraordinaire. I find the transition from one to the other exhausting but I know when I need a break from her constant commentary, I simply need to step out the front door and there will be silence. There may be a leech permanently suctioned to my leg but it’ll be noiseless.

When my third son was at kindergarten, he spoke so quietly the teacher could barely hear him. He enthusiastically played with his peers but was also content in his solo bubble.

What he found difficult was speaking to adults. He barely made eye contact, which at first I found rude and reminded him to use his “manners” until one day he said, “talking to adults is embarrassing”. The pressure to perform in an acceptable way in the presence of an adult was overwhelming.

Fast-forward a couple of years and although still as quiet as a school playground in the holidays, he is performing well in class and interacting with kids his own age as well as older children and teachers. He still loves his bubble though.

At a recent family birthday bash with a gaggle of friends and family, he asked midway through the party if he could have a rest on his bed. I cocked an eyebrow and wondered what was going on in the head of this young man. I agreed to his request but not before I pursued the line of questioning to assess whether something had happened – an altercation with another child perhaps? No. There were just too many people, he said.

My eldest son is a deep thinker, a limelight avoider, and sometimes becomes apprehensive in new situations. Recently he played in a winning grand final sports team and I assumed he’d be elated. Instead, when we arrived home he went straight into his room and closed the door. I followed and proceeded to cross examine the poor chap, wondering why he was not shouting with joy and cartwheeling his way through the house, with medal hanging around his neck for all to see. He assured me he was fine, nothing was wrong, yes he was happy they won, no he wasn’t worried about how he played.

I pressured my husband into checking on him. He returned and said:
“He’s fine. Here’s a book on introverts.”

The book is called Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. I was instantly speechless.

If the quiz on author, Susan Cain’s, websiteis anything to go by, I’m actually an “Ambivert”, that is, someone who has qualities of both extroversion and introversion.

I thrive on social interaction, although I also like my quiet time at home. I’m energised being with other people. However I do have moments of introspection, and it is these times which prompt my friends and family to ask if I’m okay. They are more comfortable with my louder, opinionated side.

Introverts are often misunderstood as shy, and sometimes even rude. I had someone ask me if I'd had my son "tested for autism". A timid child can be difficult to build rapport with but it is important as parents to nurture their sensitive natures.

Susan Cain suggests gradual exposure for a child who is reluctant to try new things or meet new people. “Don’t let him opt out, but do respect his limits, even when they seem extreme. Inch together toward the thing he’s wary of.”

And one of her recommendations (which would have been great if I read the book before I embarked on the label) is not to call your child shy. They will learn that it is a stigmatised term in our society, which will only compound nervousness. Instead, Cain says, “when others call [your child] shy in front of her (which they will), reframe it lightly. “Sophie is great at sussing out new situations.”

Finally, Cain says we need to “respect [our children’s] desire for time and space to play alone.”

Next time my son departs a party early for some alone time, I'll celebrate his self-imposed timeout, commending him for knowing his own limits and acting when he sees things spiralling into a world of noise.

When the big match is all done and dusted and the trophy winning child retreats to his bed, I’ll allow him the space to process the day without a motherly inquisition.

Finally, when the daughter attaches herself to my leg trying to climb inside my skin when an adult says hello, I won’t automatically chastise her for being rude. She'll warm in her own sweet time.

With the right guidance, I’m confident this extrovert (or more accurately, “ambivert”) can raise gorgeous, sensitive, kind introverts.

Are you raising an introvert? Are you an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert?

Kylie.

#2 blimkybill

Posted 12 February 2015 - 05:15 PM

Are you me? You could be, except that I only have daughters, no sons. 3 introverted daughters with a highly introverted father. I do have to confess to at times feeling there must be something wrong with them when I didn't understand them, when they were younger.

Some moments which stick in my memory include one DD hiding in the pantry when visitors came, and another going for a lie down in her room alone when she had a friend over for a play date. Or 13 years of school reports exhorting each one to "speak up more in class because they have good ideas but don't share them  enough".

My life in more recent years often involves coming home looking forward to catching up on the day and finding all 3 in their rooms alone... Where they stay happily for hours until dragged out for dinner.

As a plus, the house is usually pretty peaceful.

#3 JRA

Posted 12 February 2015 - 05:32 PM

DH and I are introverts. This surprises people as in a work crowd for instance doing work, I don't "act that way", but we truly get our energy from being alone, and being with people is draining.

DS is exactly the same.

Quote

At a recent family birthday bash with a gaggle of friends and family, he asked midway through the party if he could have a rest on his bed. I cocked an eyebrow and wondered what was going on in the head of this young man. I agreed to his request but not before I pursued the line of questioning to assess whether something had happened – an altercation with another child perhaps? No. There were just too many people, he said.

Ds (now 12) finds school camps draining, absolutely draining. 5 days with people all around him nearly kills him. I must admit my biggest nervousness about him doing well in his hockey is perhaps the need to go away with a team for 10 days, it will kill him with people around him all the time.

#4 girlfrompdx

Posted 16 February 2015 - 11:24 AM

Having read your post I can imagine being an extrovert with introverted kids would be hard. But on the flip side, I also find being an introvert mum to my very introverted 8yo DS can be pretty challenging at times.

I think I've spent a lifetime trying to overcome (overcompensate for?) my own introversion and so sometimes I find his introverted ways a bit confronting... I probably go between extreme empathy & patience and major frustration. Sometimes he does things (such as excusing himself to take a nap at a party) that make me cringe, and then I feel bad. He likes going to parties but rarely seems to enjoy himself when he's there-- it's much the same with play dates, unless they're with his best friend.

I'm trying to just accept him on his own terms more, and not force him to do the "done thing" all the time. It's hard though, because I don't want him to think he can opt out of everything either, as life doesn't work that way! I try to cultivate his social resilience in various ways, but sometimes it seems to backfire. :(

Edited by girlfrompdx, 16 February 2015 - 11:28 AM.


#5 Wahwah

Posted 16 February 2015 - 11:32 AM

I read Susan Cain's book a few years ago on a whim and found it illuminating. I can't recommend it highly enough to people who worry they are introverted, or have a introverted child.

I think my husband and I are ambiverts (although I've only just heard this term). I'm quietly confident, happy to be social, but equally need time away from others to re-energise and get some balance. I can talk to anyone in a small group but tend to lose my self in large social settings. (Have been known to hide with the kids because it's easier than endless small talk) At work my confidence in my own ability means I cope with any situation. I can easily stand up in front of 30 people and run a meeting, but don't really want to have lunch with them after.

I bought the book because our son is introverted and this bothered my husband because he didn't want him to be overlooked in life.  What was liberating for me in reading Quiet, was the notion that this is completely 100% ok. He's not the life of the party, but he's got great friends who like him a lot. He's thoughtful and intelligent, so while you might not hear his voice a lot in class, when he does speak it's meaningful.  He's not socially anxious and he doesn't care for attention.

I also avoid using 'shy', and I don't even say quiet or introverted. I like to think he's thoughtful and reserved rather than impulsive. He's got substance. He's perfect the way he is.

#6 newmumandexcited

Posted 16 February 2015 - 11:34 AM

I'm an introvert with an extrovert mother. She was always trying to make me socialise which I hated. It felt like she did not fully accept my nature.

#7 ImpatientAnna

Posted 16 February 2015 - 11:42 AM

This is really interesting to read. I never thought of it being difficult for the parent.

I am about as introverted as it gets, but my mum is about as extroverted as it gets.  It was always very difficult for me because she thought of my introversion as a character flaw (as many in society seem to), that I needed to work on. I just didn't understand why it was so difficult to understand and accept the way I was, and did damage my self confidence.

Now that I look back, at the time I don't think many people really valued introverts. It was seen as a social deficiency. She probably just thought pushing me was best.

I am now raising an introvert (not shy though) and it's tricky because my mother swears he is autistic. We tried to have him assessed at two but the paed felt it was just a speech delay. I still think this is the case but keeping in touch with the paed in case. Everything that my mum believes is an autistic trait is also a trait of introversion, plus he is different at home with just dad and mum.

#8 lizzzard

Posted 16 February 2015 - 11:56 AM

I am an introvert surrounded by introverts (DH, DS and DD). I understand my two kids really well in this particular domain. I don't necessarily know how to help them face the challenges that come from society, school, other people etc, but I can empathise with their natural responses.

#9 EmAyEm

Posted 16 February 2015 - 12:04 PM

View Postgirlfrompdx, on 16 February 2015 - 11:24 AM, said:

Having read your post I can imagine being an extrovert with introverted kids would be hard. But on the flip side, I also find being an introvert mum to my very introverted 8yo DS can be pretty challenging at times.

I think I've spent a lifetime trying to overcome (overcompensate for?) my own introversion and so sometimes I find his introverted ways a bit confronting... I probably go between extreme empathy & patience and major frustration. Sometimes he does things (such as excusing himself to take a nap at a party) that make me cringe, and then I feel bad. He likes going to parties but rarely seems to enjoy himself when he's there-- it's much the same with play dates, unless they're with his best friend.

I'm trying to just accept him on his own terms more, and not force him to do the "done thing" all the time. It's hard though, because I don't want him to think he can opt out of everything either, as life doesn't work that way! I try to cultivate his social resilience in various ways, but sometimes it seems to backfire. :(

Yep this is me as well. I try very hard to overcome my own introversion to model good social skills in front of my own introverted children.

It's hard, because I can totally empathise with them, but I don't want them to go through what I did. (Being known as the shy one who doesn't talk, people thinking I didn't like them because I didn't have enough to say to them, getting a job and then having anxiety about having to make phone calls, and small talk to clients etc.)

#10 Clever Clogs

Posted 16 February 2015 - 12:43 PM

Very interesting! My DD and I are both introverts so we don't really have any trouble. I do worry that I might have an extroverted child and I won't cope! We do a half hour or hour activity most mornings and then we are happy to be home the rest of the day.

#11 gabbigirl

Posted 16 February 2015 - 12:56 PM

How do you think my husband feels....he is a classic introvert surrounded by three extroverts...myself, and our two daughters.    The house is generally full of people...he came home e other night to 4 adults, 6 children and four dogs.  I think he wanted to drive back out the minute he saw us :)



#12 possumbaby

Posted 16 February 2015 - 01:13 PM

Very interesting thread - thanks for your stories. My husband is an introvert, and although I'm an introvert 'on paper' (according to a Myers Briggs personality test done years ago) - I'm much more social and outgoing than him.  

We have 2 kids, a boy and a girl - my dilemma is that I think we have 1 introvert and 1 extrovert - and I've got to stop myself from favouring the extrovert.   The likely extrovert is only 2 - but is just much more gregarious and outgoing - he is a bit of an entertainer.

My daughter is 4 and a half and needs lots and lots of encouragement to speak when she is spoken to etc.  I am going to go and by that book though - because I don't want her to feel that her quietness is something we don't value. The world would be a horrendous place if it was full of extroverts - but I do think I need some more insight into the workings of introverts.

#13 Tinsilitis

Posted 16 February 2015 - 01:32 PM

Two introvert parents here. DD1 is an extravert, DD2 is an introvert, DD3 is too young to be known yet.

We are very aware of what makes an extravert tick, so we understand our DD and try to give her what she needs. She needs people around constantly, and hates being on her own.

We make a point of talking to both the older kids, highlighting how we are all different, and how we should be tolerant of each other's needs. As DD1 gets older, we would expect her to respect our need for time alone and time to think - she is too young to do that as yet.

#14 lazycritter

Posted 16 February 2015 - 01:42 PM

I hated being told I was shy when I was Growing up. I hate the word now.  Yes I scored an I.

#15 Kylie Orr

Posted 03 March 2015 - 10:02 AM

Thanks for all your insights - introverts and parents of introverts.

I'm very saddened by any introvert who feels society doesn't accept them because they are not gregarious or outgoing. To think a parent would ruin their child's self esteem because of introverted traits is devastating! I hope to never do that!

I have to admit, I have become very accustomed to the quiet and now find life a little noisy :huh: .

#16 Fennel Salad

Posted 03 March 2015 - 10:19 AM

Our kids are sent to test us :-)

DH and I are both introverts (ie bookish and sciencey) and both our boys are LOUD extroverts. They:

(1) say hello and love talking to strangers in the street
(2) just started understanding why they *can't* just walk into neighbours/random people's houses and play with them
(3) organise playdates at pre school and I get told at pick up.
(4) make friends easily (scarily so)

Im bracing myself for difficult teenage years (I reckon were going to be *that family* with the house trashed by a teenage party when we're out of town).



#17 Puzzles

Posted 03 March 2015 - 10:31 AM

Well, you can't expect your kids to be carbon copies of yourself.

#18 Zeppelina

Posted 03 March 2015 - 10:37 AM

I am the introverted child of an extrovert. Please please don't label your children as 'shy' or any other such label. My mother (the extrovert) has spent my whole life telling people I'm shy, and speaking for me without giving me a chance to speak for myself.

I have had years of working through feeling bad about myself, always feeling like there was something wrong with me because I wasn't like my mum.

It has taken me 34 years to realise that actually, I'm not shy - I'm just an introvert. In fact, the only time I behave in a 'shy' way, is around my mother, and other extroverts.

I am much more comfortable in my own skin now, and will happily take myself off for some breathing space if I'm at a party or even if I'm hosting a party.

Edited by Feralina, 03 March 2015 - 10:38 AM.


#19 lazycritter

Posted 06 March 2015 - 06:49 PM

Another terminology I dislike hearing is


"It's great that you've really come out of your shell."

and they seem to pat themselves on the back because they think they made us better than before.

PS No I was just observing you all this time and working out how shallow you all are.

Edited to add middle sentence

Edited by lazycritterisferal, 06 March 2015 - 06:50 PM.


#20 sarahec

Posted 19 September 2018 - 04:25 PM

I’m an introvert raising two extroverts. It’s very exhausting and I don’t understand why my son would want to socialise everyday.

#21 seayork2002

Posted 19 September 2018 - 04:35 PM

I geuininley feel  I am a mix of the two, I think DS is a bit like me but DH is probably more introvert.

I am not sure if you can be a mix of both if a definition is required it is just what I feel.

I am not sure if this specific point is relevant to overall discussion but what stood out for me was the need for kids to be outgoing. We try and have DS be polite to people and not ignore them or be rude but we don't make him talk to them (ie usually adults I mean) as such.

An example is DS seems to know every parent at his school, this started in FYOS we could not leave the house (we have always lived close to the school even though we move a lot) without an adult saying to him 'Hi! DS', he seemed a bit taken aback so  we say to him 'it is nice and polite to say hello back but you don't have to stand there all day chatting'

So we are trying to reach a balance of what society expects but accepting he is his own person too and does not have to be like us or anyone else

#22 MissMilla

Posted 19 September 2018 - 06:58 PM

We have the opposite. 2 introverted adults with 2 extroverted children.
They literally walk up to complete strangers in the shop and start conversations: 'Hi my name is xxx, whats your name? Wow you bought so many chips! Are you having a party? Who did you invite to the party? This is my mum, look! Her name is xxx.'
And he doesnt stop until i get him or they walk away from him 🙄😂

Im glad they are very outgoing and and all especially since it was difficult for me to grow up with that anxiety around people. Im glad they wont experience this.

But at the same time my kids are exhausting to me! I know all children are exhausting, but when we wake up at 7am i wanna just go hide somewhere by 7.30 because the constant noise and chatter is driving me crazy. DS is in kindy now, so theres a lot more peace and quiet, but even one child can be draining.

#23 Nobodyelse

Posted 19 September 2018 - 07:18 PM

Introverts often struggle to get employed too. Job ads calling for 'people person' or 'bubbly personality' are automatically off the table. How a 'bubbly personality' helps someone fix a computer, is beyond me but it is one of the reasons DH missed out on a job as an Apple Genius. Forget that he can pull the silly machines apart and put them back together with "nothing more" twenty years experience. He wasn't 'bubbly' enough.

It makes me quite angry at how extrovert is considered the default and introverts have to somehow fit into that world.

Edited by Nobodyelse, 19 September 2018 - 07:19 PM.


#24 Ozquoll

Posted 19 September 2018 - 08:19 PM

View PostNobodyelse, on 19 September 2018 - 07:18 PM, said:

Introverts often struggle to get employed too. Job ads calling for 'people person' or 'bubbly personality' are automatically off the table. How a 'bubbly personality' helps someone fix a computer, is beyond me but it is one of the reasons DH missed out on a job as an Apple Genius. Forget that he can pull the silly machines apart and put them back together with "nothing more" twenty years experience. He wasn't 'bubbly' enough.

It makes me quite angry at how extrovert is considered the default and introverts have to somehow fit into that world.
Tell me about it! I got quite good at bodgying those Myer-Briggs type tests that some workplaces make you take. Not much you can do about the extroversion-bias in the interview though 😠

#25 Dianalynch

Posted 19 September 2018 - 08:34 PM

Zombie thread - just in case a poster doesn't notice the dates -  surprised I did as I usually don't. :)




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