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The "Silent Treatment" vs. the Talking Machine: Understanding Introverts and Extroverts

Plan for Success
It's really tough when kids come at you with scowls, snorts, and shrieks, and you have to help them sort out their feelings or to recognize that they need to recharge. When you understand what type you're dealing with, you have the information you need to know how to approach them and make that connection.

Think about the recent struggles you've had with your child. Now that you know her preferred type – extroversion or introversion – help her plan for success. For example, if your child is an extrovert and has been getting into trouble at school for interrupting or talking too much, you can tell her, "It's difficult for you to wait because when a thought hits you, you want to share it. You get excited, and you want to talk. When that happens you can hold up a finger to let others know you want into the conversation, but you may not speak. You can say, 'I'd like a turn.' Or, 'Excuse me, please.'"

If your child is an introvert and has been getting into trouble for pushing or shoving when he feels crowded or disappears when he needs a break, you can let him know that in a crowded classroom he may feel uncomfortable and need space. Teach him to say, "I need space." Or to ask the teacher if he can step into the bathroom or run an errand to the office in order to take a break. Working with your child's preferred style keeps him open to your guidance. It allows you to teach him what he might be feeling and how to express those feelings respectfully. It's this coaching that will stop those power struggles before they ever start.

Coaching Tips
If you or your child prefer extroversion:

  • Honor your need for conversation and activity.
  • Be sensitive to the needs of others for space and quiet.
  • Understand introverts are not wasting time or rejecting you when they are quiet. They are thinking and recharging.
  • Enjoy your ability to easily converse with others.
  • Recognize that you are drained by too much time alone.
  • Seek feedback. Needing and enjoying feedback is not an indication of low self-esteem.
  • Remember to stop and listen.
If you or your child prefer introversion:
  • Honor your need for space, reflection time, and observation. Plan it into your day
  • Understand extroverts are "thinking" when they're talking and what they initially suggest may not be their final decision.
  • Be sensitive to others' need for conversation and activity.
  • Enjoy your observation skills and ability to carefully think things through.
  • Recognize that you are drained by large groups and interaction.
  • Learn to say, "I need to think about that."
  • Let extroverts know that you have heard them and are thinking about your answer.


From the book KIDS, PARENTS, AND POWER STRUGGLES: Winning for a Lifetime by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, published by HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. Copyright 2000 by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka. All rights reserved.

Buy the book at www.harpercollins.com.

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