Written by: Jenny Smith
The difference between introvert and extrovert children
Most people have heard of introvert and extrovert but there is a third category called ambiverted that has had a lot less press but is no less relevant than the others. It can be very helpful to understand what your children’s tendencies are in relation to this model of behaviour so that you can help them flourish and so you can avoid taking things personally when your best laid plans fall flat on their face!
What’s the difference?
So what is the difference between these three types? To work out which temperament your child has, see if you can identify from the following descriptions. Once you have a sense which group your children fall into you will then know how much stimulation they need in order to thrive.
Introverts choose to recharge by spending time alone or in the company of one or two others. They will naturally be drawn towards activities that can be done alone. Rather than being shy, they just do not engage in lots of conversations because they simply don’t desire lots of verbal communication.
If you have an introverted child it is important to make sure that they don’t have too much structured time and that there is a feeling of spaciousness within their week. Also help them to prioritise plenty of time alone of recharge and replenish themselves.
Extroverts are extremely social and outgoing, they recharge by being around lots of people and generally have a philosophy of the more the better. They are very active in conversations and will often start new discussions going if there is a lull in the conversations.
With an extrovert child you can support them by giving them lots of social opportunities and activities and as much as possible engage in as much discussion and interaction with them as possible. Combining household tasks like washing up and cooking with chatting is a great way to meet their needs for communication as well as getting to hear all about their lives!
Ambiverts are a mixture of the two and may show behaviours such as having a large group of friends but crave alone time too. This group gets as much pleasure from hanging out with a large group as spending time reading or drawing alone at home.
For an ambiverted child the key is balance. Help them to create a life that has a good mix of social activity and down time where they can relax alone. Tune into their signs of when they need the level of stimulus to change and if possible see if you can adapt so that they can flow into what they need.
Striking a balance
It is common for a family to have a mix of introverted, extroverted and ambiverted children so remind yourself that you don’t need to and actually can’t meet everyone’s needs the whole of the time. Remember that it’s a balance that you are trying to strike and avoid extreme thoughts that your extroverted kids need to be stimulated all the time or that your introverted ones need to have alone time all of the time. The most important and empowering thing that you can do is to help them to understand their own needs in terms of what makes them feel good and nourished.