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Introverts {&} Extroverts

I wanted to share an extremely enlightening personality distinction from the book, "Raising Your Spirited Child" by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka. 


"Extraversion and introversion describe how we get our energy, an important dimension of personality development. Spirited kids need energy to manage their strong temperament. It takes a great deal of effort to express intensity as assertiveness rather than aggressiveness."


"Introverts get their energy by being alone or with one or two special people. They prefer to interact with the world on the inside by reflecting on their thoughts and ideas before sharing them with others on the outside. They refresh themselves by spending time alone. If they get it, they'll play well with other kids and be more cooperative. If they don't get (alone time) they'll get surly and nasty."


"Extroverts draw their energy from others. They prefer to engage the world around them outside their bodies by talking with people, sharing ideas and experiences. If they don't have the opportunity to talk, they get crabby and more demanding because they are running out of steam. If they are allowed to recharge by being with other people they are fine."


Yes, as an Introvert, I can validate that the only way for Introverts to "unwind" and gain energy is by having alone time. It doesn't even have to be very long. A half hour to an hour is often plenty. When your Introvert child gets home from school, or your Introvert spouse gets home work, ask them a polite "how was your day?" And don't take it personal if they answer a short "fine" and continue on to their room to read, play a video game, and just unwind for a bit. You want a happy kid? Please give them the space they need.

"Traditionally the term introvert has described someone who is shy and socially unskilled. It's important to remember ...introversion and extraversion do not describe social skills. They explain how we get our energy. Both introverts and extroverts can be very savvy interacting with people. The key is what happens afterward. The introvert will be drained and ready for a nap...whereas the extravert will be wound up and ready for more action."

Introverts are drained as they socialize. Sharing space also takes lots of energy from introverted Spirited children. If an introvert is busy, it's very difficult to be interrupted (even just by stopping to say hello or "good job"). Interruptions rob energy, create a loss of focus and annoyance.

Another point I will make about Introverts is that if/when they are ready to share something, they will. But when pushed to "figure out their feelings" on a time limit, they will most likely either shut down or become grumpy. Don't be surprised if you sit back, give them space, listen and don't judge if they start to open up more.  Introverts have to guard their energy supplies. "If you want your introvert to be socially respectful, teach him to say hello, then allow him to finish his task. By doing so, you respect his energy supply" (Kurcinka, 2004).

I have known extroverts who when not around someone to talk with, share ideas, get feedback and tell their stories to for an extended period of time become quite grumpy. Extroverts need to talk in order to make decisions. "They are energizing themselves by interacting with others. Any activities that will allow your (extrovert) child to interact with others will build her energy supply." They really need to hear how good they are doing, approval, lots of positive feedback to recharge. Extroverts are usually first to volunteer for committee's or group meetings at work and make excellent friends.

Pay attention to your friends, family members and co-workers, and you will be surprised at the distinctions. :)


Kurcinka, M. S. (1998). Raising Your Spirited Child. New York, NY: HarperCollins.