Extroverted parents may not understand that introverted kids perceive the world a little differently due to their nature.
You probably know that trick with Mentos and Diet Coke — when you drop the candy in the bottle, you get a splash. Something similar might happen when an extrovert tries to communicate with an introvert. In a situation where the extrovert is the parent and the introvert is the kid:
a) Communication happens rather often, so the misunderstanding rate is high.
b) The one who represents the quieter side of the family is still a kid and often doesn’t know how to deal with communication issues in practice.
c) The extroverted parent may not inherently understand the fact that introverts perceive the world differently due to their nature.
So, when it comes to communication, what are some common mistakes extroverted parents make? Here are four mistakes either I or my close friends have made.
Join the introvert revolution. When you subscribe to our emails, you’ll get weekly tips and relatable stories to help you embrace your introversion or sensitivity — and thrive. Feel empowered and finally see your nature as a good thing. Click here to subscribe.
Mistakes Extroverted Parents Make With Their Introverted Kids
1. Extroverted parents ask, “How was your day at school?” and expect a five-minute story but instead receive a quick “okay.”
Extroverts, this question may be too abstract for some introverts. Maybe your kid has created a beautiful story in their mind, but they know you want to hear about what happened in the real world. Introverts often don’t know what’s worth mentioning in conversation, so you may have to be more concrete and creative.
Try using other questions to ask the same thing. For example, “Did you see your favorite teacher today? How is he?” or “You have so much math homework. Is that okay for you?” However, if you know your kid spent time with friends and definitely has something interesting to talk about but doesn’t want to, don’t force them. Introverted kids need privacy — and time to process — after a busy day that drains their energy.
2. They want to be present in every part of their kid’s life.
I’ve noticed that extroverts’ lives tend to be more homogenous than introverts’ lives. For example, when it comes to social media, extroverts may befriend friends, teachers, parents, relatives, acquaintances, and even acquaintances’ acquaintances without thinking twice. Introverts, however, may live in a more segmented world: “home,” “school,” “the hour from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m.,” “friends on the Internet,” and so on. So, it’s possible that your kid will get confused — and uncomfortable — when you show up at school among their peers, for example.
You can argue that your presence in all parts of your child’s life is necessary, since there are a lot of dangerous things kids can be exposed to. No kid is immune to being bullied by classmates, receiving inappropriate messages from Internet perverts, and so on. There are even apps you can use to monitor an iPhone and read your kid’s text messages on iCloud, from any device, like a Parent 007.
Well, it’s true that introverted kids are less likely to tell you about their problems than extroverted ones. On the other hand, introverts tend to be less influenced by other people, and they are less likely to fall in with bad company just to feel like they are a part of a community. (Read more about the seven common characteristics of introverted kids here.)
Of course, as a parent, you should be involved in your kid’s life. However, introverted kids may appreciate if you get closer in a less obtrusive way: Ask their opinion on certain issues, including those you face at work, for example, or read a book and discuss it together. Make a start and the rest will follow.
3. They force introverted kids to socialize more.
Extroverted parents might do this because they think, “It’s so boring to be alone,” or “To achieve success in life, you have to be sociable.” However, since brains also contribute to your child’s success, your child will not necessarily fail if they don’t have a raging social life.
Introverts often have many natural talents that they can use to build a career. For instance, introverts tend to dig deep and consider all the details of a situation. Also, they are usually capable of lateral thinking, which is highly prized not only in creative industries but also in the sciences, programming, and other fields. Even marketing, a field that for decades has been extrovert-oriented at its core, has been seeing a need for more introverts.
Want to get one-on-one help from a therapist?
We recommend BetterHelp. It’s private, affordable, and takes place in the comfort of your own home. Plus, you can talk to your therapist however you feel comfortable, whether through video, phone, or messaging. Introvert, Dear readers get 10% off their first month. Click here to learn more.
We receive compensation from BetterHelp when you use our referral link. We only recommend products when we believe in them.
4. They try to help by initiating communication between their kid and other people.
Yes, it’s true, sometimes introverts want to become friends with someone but don’t know how to make the first step because of a lack of practice or shyness. However, that doesn’t mean your kid wants someone to do it for them. You run the risk of ruining the moment, and you may ultimately discourage your child from meeting new people if you keep stepping in.
Instead, inspire your kid indirectly — by telling real life stories, so they understand how making friends works and what “algorithms” can be used to get acquainted with someone. Also, keep in mind that due to their uniqueness and mystique, introverts often attract people who are willing to make the first move.
Ultimately, as an extroverted parent, if you can learn to accept your introverted child for who they are, life will be easier. A parent shouldn’t demand a border pass into an introvert’s private space. Introverts have a right to be themselves, to get energy from their own sources (like solitude), to value things that matter only to them, and to make friends with people they really like. If you learn to appreciate your differences, extroverted parents and introverted kids can complement each other and learn a lot from each other’s perspectives.