Parenting Your Opposite

Many of us are woefully misinformed about what differentiates an introvert from an extrovert. For starters, it’s not about shyness. Introverts often enjoy socializing — but it wears them out. They require a healthy dose of solo time to refuel. Extroverts, meanwhile, draw energy from interacting with others. Too much time alone may leave them sapped and craving company to perk up. Most people fall somewhere in the middle of the introvert-extrovert continuum, but we all have an inclination toward one side.

Parenting Your Opposite

If you’re an extrovert raising an introvert (or vice-versa) understanding your kid can sometimes be tough. Keep in mind that both ways of interacting are “right” — then take these steps.

If you are an extrovert + your child is an introvert:

  • Respect her need to chill out after school. You may want to talk, but don’t take it personally if your kid isn’t chatty. Let her relax, and wait to reconnect at dinner.
  • Sign up for less. You liked doing tons of activities as a kid, but your child may not have the energy to relate to several groups. Let him choose what he wants to participate in.
  • Don’t project your social needs on your kid. Just because she has only one playdate a week doesn’t mean she’s lonely. It may be all the socializing she wants.

If you are an introvert + your child is an extrovert:

  • Rethink “good behavior”. Being quiet may not be as easy for your kid as it is for you. Find a level of exuberance you can live with, and try to meet him there.
  • Kick it up a notch for discipline if you’re soft-spoken. When your kid is wound up, she may be tough to control. Enforce limits, and use a tone that says, “I’m serious.”
  • Balance your need for time alone with his need to be together. Your kid’s constant desire for companionship may exhaust you. Build in breaks (a playdate, a visit to Lola) that keep him busy.

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