10 Tips for Parenting Introvert Kids in an Extrovert World
Below is an overview of my interview with Joanne Jarret. A family physician turned to stay-at-home mom with two teenage daughters, one who she describes as an introvert and another as an extrovert. An introvert herself, Joanne discusses the different types of personalities our children have versus what we have as parents. For the complete interview, listen to episode .#32 of Grace for Single Parents podcast.
What Does it Mean to Be an Introvert?
- There’s a common misunderstanding about introverts and extroverts. For one thing, there’s a spectrum. So you can be extremely introverted or you can be extremely extroverted or you can be right in the middle and that would be considered ambivert.
- Not that I suggest putting people in boxes, but looking at whether someone’s an introvert or an extrovert but earning more about ourselves and our loved ones helps us not only to tolerate each other but also understand each other.
- If we can just understand each other and come alongside each other and help each other face the world with what our inborn nature is and the more we can understand our kids, the better we can parent them and we can help them understand each other.
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Is Our World Extroverted?
- It does seem more like an extroverted world that we’re in, especially with social media. How can our kids that are more introverted excel?
- I don’t know if our world is extroverted, but our culture is definitely extroverted and it hasn’t always been.
- When the whole value has been placed on entertainment value or the loudest person gets the most attention it is harder right now for introverted kids than it ever has been.
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How to Parent an Introvert Child: 10 Tips
- Provide your introverted child with scripts. Don’t just assume that they have the words for what they need to go deal with. Instead of just saying, go get some more ketchup, it’s so much better to say, Hey, will you walk up to the counter and say, excuse me, we’d like some more ketchup at our table, please.
- Allow your kids time in their own heads. Especially after a really busy thing, like when they come home from a birthday party or if they’ve had a lot of superficial interaction that takes effort. Especially in the teen years, we can tend to assume maybe they’re depressed or there’s something really bad going on, but really it’s just that they need time to withdraw.
- Support your child’s one-on-one deep friendships. Don’t always assume that they want to have 10 girls spend the night. Maybe it’s just the one and that’s okay. They don’t have to have a huge group of friends just because that might be the way you went through life. It is normal for introverts to go deeper with fewer people and it’s not a sign that they’re not doing well socially or that they’re not happy socially.
- Give grace after leaving overstimulating environments. We need to give them a little grace and a little space right after they’ve been in overstimulating activity even if we think they should be in a happy mood. They just can only tolerate so much and then they’re used up.
- Allow processing time. While extroverts process outwardly with words, many introverts process internally and some process internally without words.
- Be supportive of solitary activities. Introverts like to do things by themselves.
- Arrive early so that you don’t walk into a crowded situation. So while you’re there, people are trickling in one and one at a time and you don’t have to be bombarded all at once.
- Try a shoulder to shoulder activity. This way there’s no face-to-face interaction. It’s less intense, but you’re still together and you’re still doing something together. Go for a drive, go for a walk, do a jigsaw puzzle, watch a movie, something that you are experiencing together.
- Know what time of day or what phase of day or life that your introvert is most likely to communicate.
- Ask your introvert for specifics about their fears to draw them out. Sometimes you have to do the digging because the introvert is not going to know. It’s just not going to occur to them to express some of those things and they aren’t going to understand the value in discussing it until you’ve made it happen.
Where to find Joanne
Joanne Jarrett is a family physician turned stay-at-home mom with two teenage daughters who delight and challenge her and a husband who keeps her laughing. She writes about all facets of life at cozyclothesblog.com and, along with her guests, tells her most embarrassing funny stories every week on her podcast, Fancy Free. She is releasing a line of women’s loungewear this year that feels like pajamas, look like street clothes, and all have a soft cozy shelf bra for support and coverage. These are street-legal pajamas that won’t traumatize the UPS man!