Introverts vs. Extraverts - What it Means for Your Family

Ever trying to live with a strong-willed child, I'm in the process of reading Raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka. I'm only about a quarter of the way through the book, but I've already had a light bulb moment. In one chapter, Kurcinka discusses introverts vs. extroverts. She isn't referring to the common definition of an introvert - someone who is socially backward. She's referring to the way we regain energy or re-charge when we're tired. My "ah-ha" moment? When I realized everyone in our household is an introvert - except for our strong willed child. 

Although most people have qualities of both introverts and extroverts, most people lean one way or the other. My husband and son are solidly introverts. I have one or two extrovert qualities, but am without question an introvert. As introverts we: 

* like to think before we talk. 

* enjoy alone time. 

* prefer spending time alone or with one or two special people in our lives, rather than socialize in crowds. 

* find being around strangers draining. 

* like personal space.  

Our 5 year old daughter, on the other hand, shows the signs of being a solid extrovert. As an extrovert, she:

  * is outgoing and very social. 

* loves being around people. 

* tells us about her experiences the second she walks through the door. 

* thinks and processes by talking things through. 

* talks a LOT. 

* thinks being sent alone to her room is the worst punishment. 

* wants company all the time. 

* desires lots of feedback.


No wonder the last part of the day is so hard for my daughter and me! I just want some peace, and she just wants to chatter! Here's the kicker: While introverts re-charge by being alone and doing quiet activities, extroverts need to be with people and talk. Maybe I'm just dense, but it never occurred to me that anyone would re-charge by being social. So when my daughter has shown signs of fatigue, I've done things like had her watch a movie alone, lay in bed alone, or play quietly alone. Exactly the opposite of what she needs, according to Kurcinka. Things, in fact, that may have stressed and fatigued her more. 

This little bit of information has radically changed how I think about myself and my daughter. Now when I see my daughter is tired, I ask her to cuddle on the couch with me and talk. And it really does seem to help her behavior. Now, it seems, it's just a matter of scheduling life so our very different needs for re-charging are met.  

How do you deal with the needs or extroverts and introverts in your family?


  1. What an interesting thought. My husband and I are definitely introverts.

  2. I try to make sure my extroverted four-year-old has regular opportunities to see her friends -- play dates, kids' choir practice at church, etc. Being with other people "fuels her tank" (and makes her a lot easier to live with).

  3. I read that book too...I didn't like it the first time. Now I am re-reading it because I have had to face the reality of my life. I too have a DD8 who is an extrovert.

    I have had breakthroughs with her where I just sat down and listened to her WITHOUT a set time limit. Like you I sit down and we cuddle and she talks.

    I am also teaching her to wait and to "read" other people. The other day we talked about introverts and extroverts and we found out together who was which in our home. So we talked about the differences and the needs of each one.

    She is getting so much better at controlling herself and so am I. I used to explode because I could not MAKE her do what I wanted. Talk about a power struggle.

    Praise Jesus He is teaching me and we are getting along so much better. :)

    I have read many different books on the subject and there is one that has helped me see things from a different perspective: Raising our children raising ourselves. by naomi aldort

    ok, gotta go. :)

  4. Very interesting and helpful comments from all! Where do you think our personalities come from from? Curious if they are formed genetically and then affected socially as we mature or how this all comes to be. Also, what are ways to communicate effectively with an introvert with a depressive personality when a I'm Miss Bubble Extrovert? We share an office. Would appreciate some helpful suggestions...

  5. Anonymous, our personalities come from God :) I think our experiences help shape them, too, but don't actually create them. As for your office mate, I would avoid overwhelming him/her with lots of conversation. Friendly conversation in short bursts is probably best, unless he/she shows an interest in having a longer conversation.