Have you ever felt misunderstood or struggled to connect with your kids? In today’s episode, we take a look into the concepts of introversion and extroversion to gain a better understanding of ourselves and our kids. We examine the different ways in which introverts and extroverts interact with the world, and how this can inform our own self-care and well-being. We also consider how to identify our own needs for recharging and connecting, as well as the importance of well-rounding our strengths and styles. We also explore how to help our kids recharge and connect, without labeling or limiting them.
We dive into how our inherent nature affects our interactions and how understanding this can help us meet our children where they are. We also discuss how understanding our family’s value system can lead to better communication and allow our kids the freedom to grow into their own person.
It’s time to drop the comparisons, embrace our unique styles and lead our families joyfully.
What you will learn on this episode:
- The importance of not comparing yourself to others in parenting.
- How understanding your personality type can enhance your parenting style.
- Insights into introversion and extroversion, and their impact on parenting
- The role of family value systems in parenting and child development.
- Managing parenting styles that differ from your children’s temperaments.
- The concept of well-rounding and how it can benefit both parents and children.
- The importance of recognizing and celebrating parent-child differences
Mentioned on this episode:
I absolutely love to hear your thoughts and get your questions.
You can email me at: Leighagermann@gmail.com
I can’t wait to hear from you!
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I’ve loved the thoughts and comments on our last episode about nothing being wrong with you, as I’ve had conversations this week about that. I wanted to take it a little bit farther and just talk about how important it is for us to really understand and embrace our own styles of being in this world, and especially our unique styles of being in our role as a mom, because as moms, we come in all personality types and all kinds of temperaments. I want to talk a bit about what temperament is, because there’s some really great research about understanding our own temperaments and styles and understanding those of our children and how they can match up well or sometimes not be the best match, and how that influences our parenting and I think this plays into our struggle with feeling like we’re not good enough because we’re really striving to fit into a mold or in a comparison that we have with someone else, maybe that we admire. And so I think part of our job in fully accepting who we are and loving ourselves for who we are is to look at our own styles and learn from them and learn how to work with them. In our study of resilience, this falls under self-awareness, because the more we understand ourselves and how we work, we are better able to work with ourselves. As we go from that foundational place that there’s nothing wrong with you, that you’re whole, you’re valuable, you’re wise, you can then begin to move into embracing your unique style and not having to compare to other people. And this is part of enhancing and deepening our self-awareness, and it links very strongly with understanding the things that are important to us and that matter to us our value system and so when we’re talking about comparing to others and embracing our own styles, it’s so important that we are really grounded in the things that matter to us in our value system. Sometimes, when we look at comparing, we look at letting go of the things that matter to us so we can fit in, and that often takes us farther away from ourselves in disconnection. And we can go the other way too. Talk about just embracing our style and completely untethering from the things that really matter to us, our value system. And we don’t want to do that either, because this isn’t about over-controlling or indulging ourselves. It’s about really looking at what matters to you and how you prefer to move forward in life, to live those things, to actively put your values into what you’re doing in your everyday life.
Years ago, as a young mom, I became friends with another mom who had children very close in age to mine, and we hit it off immediately and spent a lot of our time together. And the more I hung out with her, the more I began to notice some major differences in how we each approached mothering. She was vibrant and cheerful almost all of the time and spent a lot of hours on the floor with her kids, actively involved in this kind of very physical and active play with her children. And I was a happy mom and I love my kids. But after a few minutes of playing cars or another game of candy land, I felt like I always needed to do something that was a little bit more adult. Even if it was just to get up and put in a load of laundry or do something around the house, she had her kids go almost everywhere with her, even when she had a husband at home willing to watch them, and she seemed so happy about it. I, on the other hand, loved the few minutes of freedom I would have if I could run an errand without my kids. I loved to listen to the radio instead of itsy-bitsy spider. That felt like heaven to me, and so I watched this mom as she excitedly and willingly just took her kids everywhere with her, and where I was slow to get out the door in the morning, she was up at the crack of dawn and ready to go, and often when we did things together she was waiting for me as I finished getting my kids ready for the day, and when her kids napped she told me she just counted the minutes until they woke up so she could play with them some more, and I always kind of prayed my kids would sleep a few more minutes so I could get a nap in or finish the book I was reading or just have time to sit on the back porch and think a little bit.
And so after a few months of knowing and loving my friend, I noticed I wasn’t feeling so great about myself as a mom. I was starting to feel a little bit disappointed in how I was showing up in my role. Before I met her I hadn’t even thought about these things, but once we spent a lot of time together I started to notice how differently we mothered, how differently we parented in our styles, and I started to think maybe something was wrong with how I was doing it. Maybe she had the real mothering genes and I was missing out on some. And I kind of struggled with this low level worry and I started to notice all the things I didn’t do compared to what she did do and it kind of affected how I felt. It affected a bit of how I felt about our friendship and it started to affect how I felt about my role as a mom Until one afternoon I got a phone call from this very same friend and she was asking for my advice. It turns out she’d been watching the way I parented my kids. She went on to comment on almost all the things I did differently than she did.
I see the way you wait and listen to your kids, and I love how that draws them out. I wanna learn how to do more of that Wanting to create more quiet time in her home, encouraging her children to be okay, left alone without her for a couple of hours, and on and on, and as I listened to her, I had this mix of wanting to cry and wanting to laugh. Here was my friend, feeling much like I had been feeling. I could have just hugged her for her honesty and her vulnerability. I was able to tell her how I’d been admiring her parenting and we laughed at how it always seems easier to notice other strengths and hard to see those in ourselves. And then suddenly I was much more okay with how I parented my kids.
Over the years, I’ve seen as many parenting styles as there are parents, introverts, extroverts, shy, outgoing, loud, quiet, mild, bold. There just isn’t a right way to do it. In fact, your way is the right way for your family because it comes from you, and one of the things that I’ve been working with moms on is accepting and understanding their own personality, styles around how they do things, and one of the areas that has been helpful to look at is how introverted or extroverted they are. If you’ve heard the words introvert and extrovert, you may be wondering what they mean and how they apply to you. These terms are used to describe one aspect of your personality style, especially in how you gain your energy, either from quiet and more solitary pursuits or through interaction with other people. It can influence the way you socialize or handle stress or even make decisions.
There are some things I like about categorizing personality styles. I think it can be helpful to get a snapshot of how we work, and kind of nice to be able to lay it out and make sense of some of our tendencies. But I also think we need to be careful about pigeonholing anyone into a certain category, and that can sometimes happen when we use labels to describe or define characteristics. So I actually prefer to look at the qualities of introversion and extroversion rather than using them as a label, because most of us don’t fit into one or the other, at least not consistently, and I especially want us to look at them as being on a continuum, because there are not all or nothing traits. They simply help us describe the ways that we might feel in situations or even in certain phases of our lives. So as we move forward today.
I want you to listen to these styles with an openness and see if you gain any insight into some part of your life that might help you embrace your style more. That would be the purpose of our conversation to open our eyes and hearts to a deeper understanding of ourselves and how we can better use our strengths to help us live our values, deepen our values in our lives, and also to be able to understand our kids a little bit better. Hopefully this will help us in our parenting, because our kids don’t always have the same personality qualities that we do. And I don’t know about you, but this was a huge shock for me. I guess I never thought through it. I just expected that my kids would be like me, that they think like me and intuitively act like me, and I know that’s kind of naive and, I would add, quite innocent. But you might be surprised how many parents I work with that struggle with parenting kids who have different styles than they do, not to mention in our marriages. I mean, how many of us are married to carbon copies of us? Maybe no one.
So it serves us to understand our own tendencies and make space for our family members to have their own styles and ways of doing things, and this is why it’s so important to keep connecting to our values, because you and your husband might have the same value system and very different styles of imparting or kind of applying those values in your life, and that’s okay. It’s really actually kind of good for your kids to have two parents that have different styles, because kids are learning and exploring their own styles and it’s really great to have two examples instead of just one to follow. And I know that can be kind of hard to seem like we have to work so much with so many different personality styles and ways of doing things. But that’s just the opportunity we have to raise independent and unique children, that they have an opportunity to be their own thinkers, to experience life in their own way through their own styles. So if we have differing styles as parents, that is not a problem. The goal is that we want to be on the same page with our value system when we’re parenting and we want to be able to communicate really well. So this is a key component in parenting that’s going to give your child the freedom to develop into their own person and also help you parent them with so much more peace if you have that understanding.
So let’s look at one aspect of personality today introversion and extroversion and just see if we can gain some insight that will help us accept ourselves and our kids a little bit more. So when we describe introverts and extroverts, we tend to kind of paint a picture for each. Introverts tend to feel recharged by spending time alone or with a few people they feel close to and they reconnect with their strength through quiet and focus. Extroverts often seek out social interactions with others to feel energized and recharged. Being too quiet or alone too much may feel boring or lonely. Once again, these two styles of interacting in the world are not static and not set in stone. You may be an introvert who loves being in her group of friends for regular social time, or an extrovert who really enjoys her alone time. It’s important that these styles don’t become labels that make your world narrow or limiting, and hopefully you can see that there’s one style that isn’t better or more highly prized than the other.
Really, what we’re going for is knowing about how you recharge, connect and make decisions so you can best care for your own needs and also support the people that you care about. And you can take some quizzes and I’ll put at least one in the show notes. That might give you some interesting information about some tendencies that you might have according to introversion and extroversion. It might help you understand a little bit more and get you thinking about how you approach the world. Once again, don’t take it as a definitive description of who you are. It’ll just help you get started on that journey of self-awareness. The more you understand about yourself, the more you can take charge of your own choices so you can best suit your strengths. But all too often we try to be what we think we should be rather than what we may be needing to be in the moment. So thinking about the stuff may help you embrace your style and run with it.
I think there are a couple of areas that we can use this information to help us. Number one knowing how you refuel and recharge. Everyone needs a long time and social time, no matter your personality type. In order to be well, you’re going to need both. So it’s really helpful to pay attention to which tank is bigger for you that alone time or that social time and make plans to fill that tank so that you can feel good. In other words, if you crave a lot of social connection, maybe under that extrovert umbrella, consider planning regular play dates, joining a book club or a dinner club, and maybe volunteering on a committee or being in your child’s classroom. In other words, schedule some social connection that happens so that you don’t have to work so hard to make it happen every day. And if you crave more alone time, under that introvert umbrella, make sure to schedule periods of time where you can get away by yourself or plan to pursue some solitary pursuits like riding or sewing, running or playing an instrument, and these are going to allow you to recharge, doing something that you connect with and love, and this is kind of a subset of our self-care activity. When we look at what do you need to have that kind of independent sense of identity and what’s the best way that you can start to fill up that tank? What are some of the first things that you’re gonna choose to do? You know it really doesn’t matter if we label it or call it introversion or extroversion. What matters is we’re getting what we need, and I’m hoping to be able to have this conversation with you all today, just so you start thinking about what are some of the options and especially so that we’re not being judgmental or harsh with ourselves if, for some reason, the thing that everyone thinks should recharge us doesn’t recharge us, because maybe we’re looking for something else.
When it comes to your kids, you can observe them to see which direction they tend to lean in recharging. Do you have a kid who comes home from school and needs to have some quiet time to play or maybe kind of read independently? Or do you have a child who comes home dying to tuck your ear off and have play dates every day when they get home? Neither of these mean they’re an introvert or an extrovert, and I think it’s not helpful to look to give them a label. In fact, I wouldn’t tell your child what you think they are. I think that could be really limiting. But it can be helpful for us to observe what seems to help them feel settled and calm, and you can even ask them what recharges them. Let them start to think about it and try it out, and they may actually give you the same answer every time, or they may change it up, because they’re exploring and discovering, and I think it can be helpful to offer them different things to do to recharge and see what feels good to them, as opposed to just assuming that maybe they’re gonna wanna recharge the way that you recharge or the way that their sibling recharges.
Okay, number two practice well-rounding. Consider working on the other side of your strengths or your style. I call this well-rounding. If you love social interaction, practice spending some regular quiet time connecting with yourself just a bit more, maybe doing something you enjoy or giving yourself time to meditate or journal. And if you normally recharge with quiet or alone time, consider making a regular lunch date with friends or find a social group that feels comfortable to regularly join, because it can really help us stay balanced, to build our comfort and our refueling with the opposite of what we naturally gravitate towards. Once again, this comes kind of secondary to making sure that we’re getting enough of the things that really fill us up, and then we want to expand just a little bit and counterbalance that and we want to expose ourselves to social situations so that we’ve got all that connection that feeds us. So whether you’re on the introversion side or the extroversion side, you’re going to need social connection and you also really need quiet and alone time, because that’s the other way of connection. So we’re looking at well-rounding and starting with small steps we can gradually work our way up to interactions that can feel more comfortable and we can feel more confident in doing so.
Knowing my style has helped me understand why I might shy away from the big banquets and lots of small talk that my husband’s work requires, and he’s just so comfortable in those settings and I always end up at a table in the corner in deep conversation with someone who found out I was a therapist, so I’m much more comfortable with that. But when I go to these things I kind of prepare myself and I know it’s good for me to go. It’s good for me to round out that ability to go and socialize in a big group and really practice my small talk skills. I just understand why it’s a little harder for me and so I can be patient with myself and I can prepare myself to do that well-rounding activity. We want to know how to be out amongst many and also comfortable alone with just ourselves, and we’re helping our children get these same experiences to build this well-rounded skill set also.
I think with our kids this looks like helping them learn how to have social play dates with others as well as learn to have independent time in which they entertain and connect with themselves. So you probably be able to spot how each of your kids lean toward high social recharge or quiet alone time recharge and we can benefit from a little bit of both styles. So it’s important we don’t kind of pigeonhole them either and make a decision for which way they are going to go. As far as their style, you may have a quiet and shy child who just needs more practice in the social world and a highly social kiddo who needs to learn how to have independent time, because we want them to be able to be well-rounded as well.
Number three recognize the style of the ones you love and adapt. For example, if you identify yourself as leaning towards introversion, you might find yourself married to an extrovert, or you may be parenting children who are extroverted, and the opposite scenario is also possible. So while at first glance this may seem to be a problem, it’s important to remember that introverts and extroverts and everything on that continuum have been interacting and getting along long before we even had words to describe these temperament styles. So understanding your loved one’s style can just help you know how to better meet their needs and better connect with them, and this can be a challenge when we have multiple children and have some who seem to be really good fits for us as far as matching our interests and our styles, and some who are very different. Our job is to know ourselves well enough to make a plan for what we need and offer our children the experiences that will help them feel connected and recharged, and I think we can do this if we have our own awareness on board and are actively caring for ourselves. Understanding these concepts can be very empowering, especially if they give us a little window to see ourselves through and our kids so we can better connect with them. That would really be the goal, because sometimes it can be hard to understand or connect if we can’t intuitively resonate with our children.
If you have a child who’s tentative or slow to jump into a new situation and you’re the opposite, it can seem like something is wrong with your child upon first glance. I worked with a mom who had a son who was incredibly kind of quiet and cautious, very careful and deliberate in his decisions. He was a little bit shy, but really mostly just kind of naturally quiet, very much an observer and a very deep thinker who watched and waited before he joined in on things. Both his parents were exactly the opposite. They were very outgoing. He had two siblings, I think, a brother and a sister, that were incredibly social and very much loved to be out in groups and doing things, super adventurous and just kind of a powerhouse couple as parents and really confident siblings, very accomplished and involved.
And by the time this boy was 12, he was light years behind where his parents thought he should be and when they came to see me they were sick with worry about him. He was quiet and kind of refusing to do a lot of the things they wanted him to do and especially absolutely refusing to do the things that his siblings did. He was kind of not following in the footsteps of those older kids and what his parents kind of thought he should be doing. He just didn’t want to go out for student council like his siblings did, or he didn’t want to play a sport and he had different things he liked and this really worried his parents because they saw all of that social interaction as being such a plus in life and they had been successful in those areas and they saw it as kind of the roadmap or their guide to success and it was just not natural for him he could do it, but it just did not bring him the joy it brought his parents. So I remember the thing he said. He said I just don’t even seem like I should be their child. And this was heartbreaking to me and to his parents when they finally understood how he felt and all the pressure they had been unknowingly putting on him and so they kind of had to meet him in the middle.
He tried a few things that he wanted to do and his parents stopped pressing him to pursue all the things they thought he should do and pursue and once again we anchored them back to their values. What were the most important core things that they felt were needed for their son’s development and for his success in life? And it was really that he knew how to engage people, not so much that he had to be kind of like in the spotlight and be really super involved socially, but they wanted to make sure he knew how to be engaged and that he had the opportunity to have friendships and that he had an opportunity to develop his talents and his interests and to explore and be creative. And he kind of took a totally different direction and it was really great to see that he learned to do it in his own style and his own kind of quiet way instead of that kind of outgoing way, and it was just such a really awesome outcome. Not all of the situations work in such a wonderful outcome, but he just worked so hard to understand his personal style and so did his parents, and they just made room for him and let him take life on in the way that worked for him.
And I’ve seen this go the other way too. A child who’s so full of energy and just bounces around and talks to everyone is willing to try anything. And having parents who are just kind of quiet, don’t draw a lot of attention and kind of enjoy a low decibel level in their home. And you know, when you have a child in that situation, they could be at risk of being called hyper or noisy or disrespectful or annoying, and that’s just probably not the case. It could be just a difference in styles. So kids in homes with parents who have different personality or temperament styles can sometimes be seen as being shy or hyper simply because they have less intensity or more intensity than their parents. And there’s some research on increased conflict and disconnection in families where parents have different styles than their kids, and I think that’s the source of why it’s so important that we bring this out into our self-awareness and we’re open to it with our children, because our kids’ behavior can seem so opposite of what we think they should be doing.
So the whole purpose of this episode is to just get us thinking about how we might naturally think things should go and then be aware of that as we engage with our children In general. As parents, our job is to be aware of the differences and celebrate them rather than be fearful of them, and I think it also falls on us to adapt our parenting to allow for that difference in style. And I don’t mean that we need to cater to a child staying in their room alone all hours of the day. That actually is turning into more probably of an anxiety. We also don’t need to respond to a 24-7 demand of activity and play dates, and that’s why I really wanted to talk about well-rounding help them see what refuels them naturally and plan for it, and then help them see what they might have to work a little harder at in order to get all of the experiences and skills they need in life to be successful, and plan for that too.
Number four it’s important to communicate because too often we assume that our spouse or our family member thinks and feels the same way we do. And in our roles, especially during certain phases of parenting, we have significant demands. For instance, staying home all day with children might be extra difficult. If you are more extroverted, you may feel isolated or lonely or long for more time out in the world. And if your spouse is an introvert and prefers to stay home on the weekends to be charged, you might feel frustrated and feel even more isolated and lonely. And if you’re more of an introvert running to all the activities at work, school, with the kids, all of that it might just be all the social interaction you want for the week and you may want to set some boundaries around how you spend your time on the weekend so you can recharge. And if you have a spouse that wants to kind of go out and do a lot of things and have a lot of social time, it would be really important to be able to talk about that with each other so that you don’t end up hurting each other’s feelings when you ask for a long time or want to go out rather than stay home, resting or snuggling on the couch. So I think being able to talk about this with your kids is great too, and then we can make a plan and compromise.
The best part of knowing how you and your family work is that you can actively plan for success. You can make a weekend plan that includes watching a movie together at home on Friday night and then going out with friends on Saturday, so that everybody’s kind of getting something that helps fill them or recharge them. So, in closing, it’s important to remember that there is a continuum of extroversion and introversion, and no one fits neatly into these categories. We can exhibit a combination of traits from both ends of the continuum, making each of our experience very unique. Our goal is to better understand and know ourselves first, know what makes you light up, how to work with yourself when you feel like you’re running out of energy or you’re overwhelmed, and how to recharge. And this is self-awareness and it can help you be a stronger, more joyful version of yourself. It can help you advocate for yourself so that you can get the things that you need, and I think we can always look to the things that we all need to keep us healthy and feeling good. We all need connection, time with others who can see us and hear us and that we can love and help too, and we all need time with ourselves to better connect with that inner part of us that can strengthen and guide us from the inside. So you know your best path to both of those things Always be reaching for that sweet connection in whatever way that feels best to you and then guide your children as they learn how to do the same. Well, that’s it for today. I hope you get recharged and connected this week and I look forward to talking to you next time. Take care.
The Leadership Parenting Podcast is for general information purposes only. It is not therapy and should not take the place of meeting with a qualified mental health professional. The information on this podcast is not intended to diagnose or treat any condition, illness or disease. It’s also not intended to be legal, medical or therapeutic advice. Please consult your doctor or mental health professional for your individual circumstances. Thanks again, and take care.