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Is Your Child an Introvert, Extravert or Ambivert?

Sometimes it can be a bit puzzling to spot an introvert even if they are living under your own roof! If they are an ambivert or someone who possesses both introverted and extroverted qualities, it can be even trickier! In Susan Cain’s popular book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, she states that introverts make up only one-third of the world’s population. According to temperament experts Myers/Briggs and David Keirsey, that number is even less at only twenty-five percent. This could mean that if you have an introvert in your home, they may be feeling outnumbered and misunderstood. Without knowing it, parents may be adding to those feelings of frustration by placing unrealistic expectations on their introverted child or teen.

 My 13-year-old daughter has a “squad” of friends and an overflowing social calendar. As a baby, it was difficult to keep up with her mischief and she has been a spark plug ever since! However, as she entered the tween years, I noticed that the Energizer Bunny would come home looking more like a No Spunk to Spare Hare. Being an extrovert myself, I was seeing her through my eyes, expecting words and feelings to flow out of her like Niagara Falls. Since she was so carbonated and fizzy at school, it was hard not to take it personally when she fell flat at home. Can any of you relate?

As I began studying temperament, I learned that everyone has two main cognitive functions in their personality. The dominant function is like your dominant writing hand and the secondary is like your secondary writing hand. An extrovert’s dominant cognitive function is an observable or extroverted function. Some types of extroversion are spicier than others, which is why we see so many different flavors and volume levels of extroverts in the world. You may be the type of extravert who prefers smaller groups and meaningful conversation versus the extrovert who has the lampshade on their head at a party.

An introvert’s dominant or strongest function is hidden or introverted, so when they are being social in the outside world they have to use their secondary or weaker function, which doesn’t come as naturally to them and drains their energy. When interacting with an introvert, what you see is not what you get! There is so much more going on under the surface and their true identity has to be excavated.

My daughter’s secondary cognitive function is the loudest and most spirited type of extraversion, so she appears to be extraverted when she is chumming around with her “squad”. When she comes home though, she wants to settle into the comfort of her dominant cognitive function, which is a very logical and sober type of introversion.

So how do you know whether you have one of these perplexing introverts under your roof?

1. An introvert may be more sensitive to physical sensations like sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. I worked with a family whose introverted son couldn’t handle eating breakfast with his family because the sound of their chewing was like nails on a chalkboard for him. Some introverted children are sensitive to certain types of clothes, food textures, or surrounding temperatures.

Scientific studies have shown that introverts actually have different brain chemistry than extroverts with a higher level of neurochemical stimulation in their brains.

2. An introvert can feel very comfortable performing in public, or sharing their feelings but only if they are prepared. Introverts do not like to be put on the spot when it comes to being in front of people or sharing their feelings. They need time to prepare and process. Don’t assume that they have no opinion if they don’t speak up immediately. An introverted girl I worked with was the star of the school play but hated to be called on at school, even if it was to do improvisation in drama class.

3. An introvert needs time to recharge their drained battery. After school, your introvert may need quiet time to recharge. Instead of 20 questions; “How was your day? What did you learn in math class?” Allow time for silence and let them speak when they are ready. Remember that even if you aren’t talking, your quiet presence is comforting to them.

4. An introvert may need social media more than an extrovert. Most tweens and teens are superglued to their iPhones these days, but for an introvert, it can be a social lifeline. They have time to plan their responses and control the frequency of the interactions. During necessary downtime, they can stay connected to their friends by using social media.

5. An introvert doesn’t need to talk as much as an extrovert. Extroverts need to talk in order to process their thoughts and feelings, whereas introverts tend to process on the inside. Don’t assume that silence means they have nothing to say. They could have more going on inside their brains than an extrovert who is talking. Gently let them know that you are there to listen when they are ready to talk.

6. An introvert may feel overshadowed at a party where true extroverts are present. This one is confusing. A true introvert may not crave the spotlight, but an ambivert might. My daughter’s secondary function is the strongest type of extroversion, causing her to desire attention and leadership roles. However, when she is with true extroverts, she feels overshadowed and frustrated. She much prefers smaller groups where she can feel “large and in charge”.

7. An introvert will have an introverted dominant cognitive function. You can take a test to determine which functions make up your child’s temperament.

Still have questions? I have many years of experience working with temperament testing and evaluation. I meet with businesses, individuals, couples, and families to help them understand their two main cognitive functions and core motivations. Whether you or your kids are two or ninety-two this knowledge has completely changed the way hundreds of people are parenting and pursuing their life goals.

 “My husband and I were struggling to understand our kids who are wired very differently than we are. Meeting with Wendy taught us more in two hours than we had in months of play therapy counseling! It was incredibly insightful and we are so thankful for this information!” Joy Hummell, Home School Mom

Make your two-hour appointment today! During the month of February, I am offering a 20% discount!  Call me at 303 981-4997 or SEND A MESSAGE

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