Are You an Introverted Parent to an Extroverted Child?

Updated on July 15, 2011
T.V. asks from West Orange, NJ
12 answers

Or are you an extroverted parent to an introvert child?

I'm super duper introverted and my daughter is super duper extroverted! I process information in my head, need quiet time alone to remain sane, I am reserved and quiet and am often mistaken for being shy or being "upset". My daughter is the exact opposite. Nothing exists until she talks about it first. She needs to be around people to feel alive and charged. She's outgoing, friendly and makes friends easily (she's playing the with kid next door and they don't even speak the same language. They've been playing for hours).

What are some of the challenges you face having opposite personalities traits? What do you do to overcome them?

I figured I would add a little bit...

I find that when my daughter has the opportunity to play with other kids (she usually goes next door and they always have a house full of people) she comes back a new kid and I have the chance to get my head together. But, when we both can't get the things we need I think we get on each others nerves. I want her to slow it down and she wants me to speed it up! She's five now but when she gets older I know she will have a lot of friends and odds are they will end up in my house. As an introvert, I am definitely out numbered when compared to extroverted parents. So when I look for advice I get it from an extroverts perspective. Things like: join a mom's group.No. Arrange a play date-that usually means I will have to hang out with a person that I loosely know. Not likely. So often I feel like I'm slacking but then I give myself a pep talk :-). Like most introverts my interaction with others is about quality not quantity-and that's how it is with my daughter. We do very pointed and directed things. I talk to her about my family, where they came from, what will happen in school everything you can imagine but they are pretty deep conversations (about as deep as you can get with a 5 year old). I'm glad my husband is an extrovert (well sometimes, he comes looking for me when he needs his batteries recharged..ack!) so he picks up where I'm lacking. We also have a son but he's only two. I can't really tell which direction he's going to go in.

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So What Happened?

Thank you for all the responses! Although I wasn't looking for advice I felt it would be nice to see how intro/extroverted parents work. For all those extroverts out there, we are not socially inept. Imagine if you were forced to sit in a room with just a book, no interaction with people with no idea when it would end. I'd imagine you'd feel depressed, sad, and overwhelmed. That's how introverts feel in social interactions when it's too far out of our comfort zone. We are often not shy, can be talkative (but it has to be a topic we're interested in...small talk usually is of no interest to an introvert), and tend to have few but deep friendships. If you have an introverted child but your an extrovert don't push social activity on your child. When he/she has something to say they'll say it and when they want to be social they will. We like space and don't appreciate intrusion. I'm still working through being a parent to an extrovert so I have no advice there :-) If you have an understanding of you child's personality it makes things easier! Thanks again.

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answers from Detroit on

I have mostly introverted tendencies while my daughter (almost 4) is one of the most extroverted kids around. She has no problems jumping into new situations with new people and making friends in an instant. I actually really like it, because as a kid I struggled socially in school and with making friends. I was friendly, but more shy and quiet and tended to get picked on, bullied, and in general excluded from whatever the other kids were doing. I hope that DD won't struggle like I did.

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answers from Boise on

I just go with it! I can't say I'm an introvert but I'm on the quiet side and I'm more of a home body. Our 4 year old dtr introduces herself, her little brother AND ME to everyone!! Walking around the neighborhood she'll stop and talk to people doing yard work and say, "Hi, my name is ____, this is my baby brother______and my Mom, _____" (yes she introduces me by my first name!). I love that she is so comfortable even though it takes me out of my comfort zone a bit. I don't want to hold her back so I'd rather be slightly uncomfortable and learn from her rather than hold her back! good luck!

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answers from Reno on

I'm a shy, quiet person at heart and I have an extremely outgoing 17 year old son. He'll talk to anyone, anywhere about anything.

Over the years, we've had to really work with him about being friendly but being careful of strangers. Talking to new people was fine, as long as he was with us. We taught him to take his cues from the body language and tone of the "adult in charge of him" about the people around him. For most boys, reading non-verbal cues isn't instinctive, so we had to do a lot of role playing to get this point across. He got it after a bit and it's served him well.

The hardest thing for me is to not shush him when he starts talking up the world. I was raised that children should be seen and not heard and it took A LOT for me to bite my tongue and let him be friendly. He's best friends with everyone!

If I had to choose, I'd rather him be outgoing, than shy like me. Because I want that, I've learned to control my natural responses and just stand aside and let him be him.

Good luck.

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answers from Atlanta on

I'm probably borderline, to be honest and my youngest appears to be the same way, maybe leaning more to introvert. My husband it probably more of an introvert than I am. However, my oldest daughter is more extroverted than any of us. I simply go with the flow. The biggest challenge is allowing my children to be themselves while teaching them to be cautious (hard to teach to small ones). My husband and I are very protective. He's probably more protective than I am. I think it's all about pure beauty and innocence. And it seems your daughter has that quality. Is she an only child?

Let her be herself but be mindful of everyone and everything is my opinion. It's hard to teach children about the dangers of the world today without taking away some of their purity.

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answers from Seattle on

I am neither shy nor quiet, I LOVE people, but I'm very introverted (being around people uses up all my energy).

My son, otoh, is a *raging* extrovert. He could be around 50 people 24/7 and be in hog heaven. He's the kid that in classes and camps gets paired up with the shy kids because he'll just talk and talk and talk and talk, and introduce them to everyone else (that he's never met), and tries to make everyone feel included. Charismatic. Natural host.

He actually *likes* being in Children's Hospital because there are always interesting people about, and our room fills up with residents and students (doctors, nurses, paramedics) as well as other room's nurses, doctors that aren't his (using him as an example for their residents) because he'll just be chattering away and he *remembers* everyone who comes across his path and little bits about their lives that he tells them (although he doesn't remember names...CLASSIC example is "Oh! Do you two know each other? No? She has a toddler at home, too, and likes going for runs. Betcha two could meet up for a jog around greenlake with your kids sometime. When you're done, you could stop by our house. But you should think about taking your kids jogging. Unless you do already? He has a red stroller with plastic windows, so they go running in the rain. Do you have one like that?" and gets a 3 way conversation going between 2 strangers and himself, never needing to actually remember their names because he's got pieces of their lives stored away so no one notices (usually) ... and he's ALWAYS inviting people to our house.

The boy may be the death of me.

People MISTAKE me for an extrovert all the time... but I'm not. I'm just an outgoing introvert. I need a few hours a day at LEAST of peace / recharge time, and given the choice would often rather spend time on my own than being with people. He, otoh, gets exhausted being alone, and recharged around others. I'll regularly fill up our house with kids and he's just sooooo happy. But he doesn't care. Kids, adults, he just wants to be around PEOPLE, as many as possible, 24/7.

((All away-school parents in our area can thank me, right now, for homeschooling. My son is a CHATTERBOX, and a class clown, and can pay attention to more than one thing at a time. He can be *deep* in conversation with another student, and totally absorb the lesson the teacher is giving / repeat her words back to her verbatim (he's adhd-c, that's skill many adhd'ers have) , while the kid he's just been talking to is absolutely clueless as to what's been going on in class. It used to drive his teachers crazy, because they KNEW he was the instigator, and yet, he'd get everything perfect, so the kid he was distracting would be the one in trouble. Unfortunately, when they explained why he shouldn't distract others, he took that to mean/ came up with the solution that he'd "ramp up" the kid on what they missed in about 2 minutes flat. Which he did. So he didn't STOP. His amazing K teacher, started putting him in the ESL group... because his talking helped their language skills and then he'd show them 1:1 how to do the lesson... but how often does THAT situation present itself? Anyhow, Mister Distracto is no longer in public school subverting other students. Thank goodness. And NOW (4 years of homeschooling later) he can sit through 1-2 hours of outside classes and NOT be Mister Distracto. But full day school? Foh'ged'daboutit.))

It also makes parenting difficult, because OTHER parents (so I hear) got "quiet time" when their kids were little. My son's 9, and only THIS YEAR have I gotten 30-60 minutes where he can be playing independently (although he checks in with me every 5-10 minutes), and that was *hard work* getting him to a place where he doesn't need to be attached to my hip. ((It's also closely related with my doing chores he doesn't want to be doing with me <rolls eyes>)). He just, pure and simple, gloms onto people. Put him in a mixed party (kids and adults) and he could just live there for the rest of his life. This. Kid.

It's also not humanly possible to HAVE him surrounded by other people 24/7, although we do a pretty good job of feeding the extrovert in him, being an introvert... it's a balancing act. There are some days I just CRAVE to send him to away school and let someone else "deal", but a) that's cheating b) impractical and c) I'd end up in daily parent teacher conferences anyway.

Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love and adore my son, and there are few people I'd rather spend time with (and he's a HUGE help in all areas of life since he's attached to my hip whenever I don't have him in playdates, outside classes, etc; from helping me cook/clean, to building fences (he's gotten pretty good with tools -HE nailed in all 200 some odd planks in our fence, I'd cut them and level them, he'd hammer...yes, actual hammer, not nail gun)/ hanging drywall/ painting/ etc.-, to coming up with field trip ideas. He's an absolutely GREAT kid... but it's really challenging being so diametrically opposed in what is "relaxing/energizing" to us.

Playdates, activities, lessons, parties. He also loves "babysitting", which is less babysitting and more "mother's helper" type thing... as he'll GLADLY play with a toddler for hours on end, and is *extremely* polite/ cautious with them. At the park, he'll hold their hands going up stairs at a snail's pace, check in with their parents (Can she do the slide yet? Or should we stay over here in this section? Can you see us if we're digging?) He'll also modify games with his friends so their younger siblings are always included. Poor kid. He's a natural 'big brother', but I can't/shouldn't have more kids.

I also freely, and unashamedly, plug him in (movies, xbox, computer) at least 1-2 hours every day. That started out as an ADHD and early-reader sanity-check (if his bum was safely ensconced in a chair I didn't have to be on accidental suicide watch for more than 10-12 hours a day -note to parents of toddlers- you do NOT want them reading. They read everything, not just books- and toddlers have no common sense yet/ take warning labels as instructional guides). Getting a dog helped as well.

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answers from Tampa on

My daughter and I are both very social and extroverted... my husband is a total introvert. By reading these posts, it makes me realize how much he truly does 'try'... but I doubt he'd be able to step up anymore and it's hard for my daughter and I to isolate ourselves when we go out. We always make new friends when we go shopping or whatnot. My husband is no longer embarrassed when we start talking to strangers ;)

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answers from Jamestown on

I used to be an extrovert. Now I am content being left alone the majority of the time. My 5 year old is super extroverted and goes non-stop all day talking or playing. I am trying to find a happy medium and some days I succeed...once I change my thoughts and join in her antics.

I find I have a shorter attention span than I used to and an hour at the park is more than enough for me. I guess the main thing is I need to step up and she needs to back down a little. I'm not a play group kind-of person and kids b-day parties are hard for me. I pick 1-2 parents to hang around and smile at the rest.

I know I am not the mom she wants me to be yet and I am trying to get there one step at a time.

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answers from Phoenix on

Yes, I'm in the same situation. My son is 8 and makes small talk with everyone. He makes friends easily, also and awkwardly goes out of his way to introduce me to everyone he comes across. I'm also struggling with how to handle his outgoing style but I just try to go with the flow. I don't want to discourage him, because I'm proud that he has the self esteem to be so outgoing.

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answers from Chicago on

YES!! I will write more later after lunch.



answers from New York on

I'm afraid I don't have advice to offer, but I wanted to applaud you for recognizing your personality differences at so early a point in your parenting. Remembering the unique, basic natures of each of you (and helping her understand your personality differences as she grows) is sure to help you both with preventing and/or managing future challenges and conflicts in your relationship. Hopefully you'll both be able to embrace each other's differences without judgement and manage your expectations of each other. Best of luck!



answers from San Diego on

I'm an introvert and so relieved I have an introverted child. I completely get the need for quiet to recharge. I can't breathe without it.

I'm wondering if it is/will getting easier and easier as she grows and makes a lot of friends? She may be spending more time at others houses rather than your own? You can get the down time you need, she gets to come home and talk all about her day?

I have to seriously think about my own week. What if you were to think about coordinating your days/weeks, balancing her need and yours? If she is developing a wide circle of friends, all the better for her and you? You can also ask for the time you need. "I need to take a quiet shower." "I need a few minutes to collect my thoughts." You can teach her to work with you so you can be better for her.

Lots of question marks because this would be a particular challenge for me though have friends in this perdicament and seem to balance through coordination.

I hope you can convey that you are proud to be who you are, making no appologies, just as she should be proud of who she is. Extraversion is lauded in our society. Introversion, not so much. I think you're giving her the gift of a different personality and mode of being. Of course, not without its challenges!!!

BTW, I have a great blog for you if interested that may give you some info:

Very best!



answers from Cleveland on

I am very introverted, and my 6 year old boy is on the extroverted end of the spectrum. The social scene can be challenging, but for me the hardest thing is forcing myself to talk more. I live so much inside of my head, and I am worried that I am too quiet when I am with my son. I worry that I haven't done enough to teach him conversational skills, or simply shared enough about myself and the world with him. That, and the non-stop chatter that he is capable of can be exhausting some days ;) I always thought that this would be a great parenting book topic. Maybe someday I will get around to writing one!

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