How does an extrovert parent an introverted child?
In Proverbs 22:6 we are exhorted to raise our children in “the way they should go” and a part of what that means is to parent them in ways consistent with their unique differences in personality type and that includes differences in extroversion and introversion.
While a country like Japan tends to be a more introverted society, America tends to be much extroverted society and many parents assume that this is the normal and healthy way to be. Introverts can be easily misunderstood which is why parenting an introverted child can be a challenge, especially for an extroverted parent. Simply understanding the differences will help you be a more effective parent.
Extroversion and introversion are two different ways of relating to our outer world. They identify where we are most comfortable focusing our attention and what energizes us. Everyone uses both extroversion and introversion and needs to have skills in both but people prefer and are most comfortable with one of them.
As an extroverted parent your primary source of energy is from the environment, the outer world of people and things. You are more comfortable when focusing on the people and things around you. You probably appear more outgoing and are energized by being with groups of people. You are more likely to “think out loud” and process information by talking about it.
Your introverted child’s primary source of energy is from within, their inner world of thoughts and reflection. They are energized by having time alone. They aren’t necessarily shy and unsociable, but are probably more quiet and not as gregarious. They’re more likely to recharge their battery by spending time alone reading, thinking or building something. They may be friendly and love people but may find larger groups intimidating and draining while you are energized by them.
Introverts tend to process information internally and will think before speaking. That’s not all bad. In Proverbs 21:23 we’re told that, “He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity” and in James 1:19 we’re that all of us should be “quick to listen and slow to speak.” Introverts are often misunderstood by parents and teachers who assume they aren’t engaged because they aren’t saying something when at times they are actually more engaged as they are thinking about what has been said.
When you ask them questions give them time to respond. Just listening to them is a great gift. Discover their social comfort zone and what makes them feel successful. Notice the situations in which they seem to be the most relaxed and having fun. Over time help them develop more extroversion skills for balance. As you discover the unique way God has made them you’ll be in a better place to encourage that uniqueness.