I'm an extrovert parent with an introvert kid: here's what I've learned about how he operates.

Amanda Blume

Being in social setting is exhausting for my son, and I distinctly remember it starting when he was about five. I would suggest we go to the park. His response would be, "okay but let's drive by first to see if there are any kids there."  This all seemed perfectly normal until we got to the park, seeing that there were kids there he would say "there are too many kids here can we come back later!"  This was his way of saying I'm not really wanting to have to work at socializing. As he got older I noticed when we had guests over he after an hour or two he would disappear into a quiet location in our house.  Before I started understanding him as an introvert I may have forced him to go play with friends. But knowing that socializing is taxing on him I give him so time to recharge.

He gets energy from being by himself with his own thoughts.  No one wants their kid to be a loner. I have learned that if he is exhausted he needs to be alone.  He doesn't do well being expected to complete homework or chores as soon as we get home from school. His energy is tapped because of all the interactions he Has had.  The best way for him to reenergize is to do something by himself.

He needs time to process his school day before he can talk about it. When my son was in first grade I would say tell me about your day as soon as we got in the car.  Then proceed to ask him several more questions. This would on many occasions lead to tears and complete distress. I made a conscious effort to stop asking about his day until after we had been home for a while so he could have time to process his day and take a breath.  When I started waiting to talk it gave him space to process the day and be more equipped to talk about it.

Just because he's not talking doesn't mean he doesn't have an opinion on the topic. Prior to me understanding my son's personality I would often assume he didn't care about things because he never spoke up.  I got so tired of trying to figure out what he wanted or needed. So I made it a point to ask specific questions to help guide him in speaking his mind.

Emotions often are silently present and explode after long periods of not letting them known.  My introvert is twelve. Even now about every six months I deal with an emotional blow out. Basically he internalized all the stress and emotions he feels until something that seems so insignificant happens and six months of emotion escapes over the course of an evening. I work with him to try to get him to process his thoughts and feeling about life on a regular basis but that still doesn't keep the blow outs from happening.  When they do I try to help him process by asking him guiding questions like; what are you thinking about? What else are you thinking about that is making you upset? It also helps to have him try to put a name to the feeling; hurt, angry, sad, frustrated, nervous.

It can be exhausting cracking the code of the introverted child.  I feel like I often have to take a stab in the dark to pull out of him what is going on his head in order to parent him the way he needs parenting. I am grateful for the patience he has shown me while I figure it out.

Are you an extrovert with an introvert child? What lessons have you learned about how to support them?

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