Today I have Joanne Jarrett on the podcast talking about how to connect with our introverted children. Joanne is a family physician turned stay at home mom with two teenage daughters. Joanne brings lots of wisdom to the conversation and whether you think you have introverted children or not, I think you’ll really enjoy our conversation as we go back and forth between the different types of personalities our children have versus what we have as parents.
Hi Joanna, I’m delighted to have you on today.
Hello Jen. Thank you so much for having me.
Yeah, and so we don’t really know each other. We just kind of met on a writer’s group on Facebook and you volunteered to come on today to talk about being an introverted child in an extroverted world.
Yes, I am one of those and I have one of those.
New Speaker (01:12):
You are introverted?
New Speaker (01:12):
I know you don’t believe me.
New Speaker (01:17):
I don’t because I looked through your bio. I see family physician, and then you have a blog and you have a podcast, which I do want to talk about, about fancy free and having guests just come on and talk about their embarrassing moments. And then also this clothing line you have, I’m thinking are you really an introvert?
New Speaker (01:39):
Oh my gosh. Just like I am
Lazy, perfectionist and I’m like, it’s complicated. But one of the things about me is, and I think this is maybe a common misunderstanding about introverts and extroverts. For one thing, there’s a spectrum, right? So you can be extremely introverted or you can be extremely extroverted or you can be right in the middle and that would be considered ambivert. But there’s all this space between the middle and the ends on either side. So one of my favorite things is to connect deeply with other people. But what I don’t like is small talk. And I don’t like parties where I don’t know people. And if I’m somewhere where there’s a lot of noise or a lot of like superficial communication happening, for instance, like a swim meet that is hours and hours, then I’m totally overstimulated and I need quiet inside my head.
But I am sociable and I love to chat people up for prolonged periods of time even. And I appreciate, I really, really do enjoy that kind of connection, but it does cost me and it’s frustrating that one of the things that I love most in life is costly to me. So it depletes my battery. Say I have, you know, two appointments in the same day with like I’m getting my hair done and I always make friends with my hairdresser and the dog groomer and stuff. So say I have multiple appointments in one day and I’m chatting with all these people throughout the day and then when I get home I don’t have much left for my family. Right. I can completely relate to that. It’s like my sister in law is a complete and utter 100% extrovert and she never wants to be alone.
She gets so energized by being around other people. And I love being alone. I don’t mind not being alone, but I just love being alone. So I hate, I always hated writing, but when I started my clothing line, a mentor of mine said, if you are going to eventually have something to sell, you have to have somebody to tell. So you need to put content out there in some way, shape or form and build an email list. And I was like, all right, well I’m pretty, I’m obedient, so I gotta do that. You know, I’ve got to obey what my mentor says to do. So that’s why I started the blog and I had no idea how much fun it was going to be, how much I actually did have to say when it turns out, I can say what I want to say instead of say, doing a school assignment or whatever.
And then I think that, what I love, the fact that it’s connection without direct interaction. So you can put something out there and then somebody can read it and respond to it and you don’t have to be directly interacting with that person. And then as far as the, the podcast goes, I just, I had a crazy experience where I got stuck in a dress at Dillard’s and I was so thinking I was the only one, that had ever happened to. And I told this story and so many people came out of the woodwork like, Oh yeah, that’s happened to me. And I was like, wait, why aren’t we telling each other these stories? Because it makes me feel so much better just to know I wasn’t the only one.
And then I love to laugh. So anytime I can laugh about something and share the laughter, I love to do that. So that’s where the podcast came from.
I enjoyed looking through all of the different ones you had and I listened to a few of them, including the one about you getting stuck in your dress at Dillard’s.
Well and that I haven’t listened to that episode in a while, but I decided that if I was going to ask people to tell their embarrassing stories that I better go first and just get my own. And so it’s a solo, it’s a solo episode and it’s different than all my other episodes or interview episodes. So it was like kind of telling this story to myself here. But I just thought it would be good to get it started that way. And we just, I just love to have stuff to laugh about.
I just have these little nuggets and I just randomly remember them and laugh out loud and it just brings so much joy to my life.
So. Okay. So are your children introverts or extroverts, would you say?
I have one of each. I have an extreme extrovert and then I have an introvert who is not extremely introverted. So in fact, I thought they were both extroverts when they were little because they were just both all over me all the time. But one is, one was more in my face and always wanting face to face interaction. That’s my extrovert. And she’s like that still. And then my other one, my younger one is she likes to have contact with me, but it’s always shoulder to shoulder. So she’ll want to sit in my chair next to me. We’re not necessarily interacting, we’re touching. My husband and I worked all day yesterday and my other daughter was away on a field trip and she was home by herself all day cause they didn’t have school.
It’s like a weird day and she was so happy. She’s like, Oh no, I’ve just been home alone all day. And it’s so nice. And yeah, that would have driven the other one crazy. But Bailey loved it.
I have two, one’s 12 and one’s 14 and one is an extrovert and one’s an introvert. But I actually thought that they were switched younger and I would’ve thought that one was an extrovert, one introvert when they were younger. But as they’re becoming teenagers, I’m seeing that it’s the opposite. And especially with my son, I just thought, what? I just don’t know what to do with all his energy because I’m not an extrovert and neither is my daughter.
You’re not okay. You’re the introvert.
Yeah. And my daughter and I would just always be so exhausted by him.
But as, as a young child, he just always wanted, he’s more of a home body. He still just has so much energy and when we do go out, he’s always talking to everybody and just feeds off of all of that. And when he comes home from school, he just wants to sit down and tell me everything that happened, and just, exhausts me sometimes I’m just like, yes. Hey, okay. Okay.
And you know, it’s less words, less words, son.
But about six months ago they did the Myers Briggs thing and my daughter and I were the exact same letters as me.
What are those, what are your letters?
I N F J I want to say.
that’s what I am too.
New Speaker (07:35):
Okay. And then my son was E N F J or something really similar, but with the E.
Speaker 4 (07:42):
And when he told me that I thought, Oh well that just explains everything. And when I found out that it was, I don’t know, just like having me know that he’s an extrovert just helped me so much and then like help me to tell my daughter, look, he just has to get this out.
He’s an external processor and we are his loved ones, so we have to do this with him. Oh my gosh. I love all the personality constructs. Not that I suggest putting people in boxes, but I think they’re just such, you know, looking at whether someone’s an introvert or an extrovert or looking at their different, you know, there are a lot of different constructs. But just learning more about ourselves and our loved ones really just helps us not only to tolerate each other because you think this is in his nature.
This is an inborn thing in his nature. I haven’t burned things in my nature too. And so there are positives and negatives with all of that. But if we can just understand each other and come alongside each other and help each other, you know, face the world with what our inborn nature is. I just think it’s so useful. So my kids and my husband get tired of me talking about, you know, the attributes of an introvert versus an extrovert. But I think that they’d benefit from that knowledge too. Yeah. It’s just, it’s, I think it’s really valuable what the more we can understand our kids, the better we can parent them and we can help them understand each other. I think that might even, I mean, that’s just as major I think.
So what tips do you have for us? Because I think that most of us would agree now, especially in this world, it does seem more like an extroverted world that we’re in, especially with social media and just life as it is. And so, especially with some of our kids that are more introverted and just prefer to just stay home or stay to themselves, how can we help them navigate that?
Well, there are several things and I think, you know, I don’t know if our world is extroverted, but our culture is definitely extroverted and it hasn’t always been, I don’t think, I think back in the 50s and 60s there was a lot more value placed on someone who was just serious and nose to the grindstone and getting it done. And I don’t know when the whole value has been placed on entertainment value or, you know, the loudest person gets the most attention. And I don’t think our culture has always been that way, but it is now. And and so I think it is harder right now for introverted kids than it ever has been. And the tips that I have are a few. Number one, and this is something my mom did for me when I was a kid and she didn’t know she was doing, she’s just an amazing mom.
She’s a total extrovert that did not even understand being an introvert. Couldn’t, even relate, but she would provide me scripts. So that’s tip number one. Provide your introverted child with scripts. Don’t just assume that they have the words for what they need to go deal with. Even if they have the braves for it, they just might not have the words. So for instance, you’re sending your daughter to the counter at a restaurant to ask for more ketchup. And instead of just saying, go get some more ketchup, it’s so much better to say, Hey, will you walk up to the counter and say, excuse me, we’d like some more ketchup at our table, please. And it’s just an extrovert won’t even, it’s just will blow an extroverts mind that you would ever have to suggest words. But for an introvert, it is invaluable.
And for me, not only has this really, really been good with my introverted daughter because she’s brave enough to do things, but she just doesn’t know how to go about them. And so I can just help her figure that out. And then she’s much less anxious about it. But also when I talk my problems over with my extroverted girlfriends, they sometimes can put it into words, the thing I’m going through or what I’m trying to express. And then I put those in my word bank and then I have like a term for what I’ve been thinking or what I’ve been feeling that I haven’t been able to put it in words. So it just really helps us to talk things through. And that is not in our nature as introverts, but it is something that we need. So that is number one, providing scripts. Did you have something to say about that?
Yeah, well that made me think of yesterday actually we were going to go, my kids were out of school too and we are going to go to the gym and one of my kids said, well, is it even open? So I told my daughter, I said, well, why don’t you call them and find out? And she kind of looked at me blankly and I said, well, you know, just Google it and call. She knew how to do that, but then when she got on the phone, she just kind of looked at me and then she asked, but there was a miscommunication. They didn’t hear her or something and so she just said, okay, I’m sorry. And she hung up and I said, well what was that? Did you get the wrong number? And she just said, well, no, but they said they just repeated who they were. She said, I guess that means they’re open.
So if I would have walked her through that a little bit more instead of just assuming that you know what to do. You know when you call a business?
Yes. Even as an introvert, as adults, we already have these scripts. We already have what we say in certain circumstances, but we developed that over time and through life and we don’t remember really what it was like to not have those. So I mean, my daughter’s so cute. She said to me a while back, mom, you always seem like you know exactly what to say. And I said, Oh honey, it’s, it’s been a long time coming and I have to tell you at 14 years old you are doing world’s better than I was doing it. 14 years old when it comes to this. So you’re going to be just fine. But if we can ever, you know, your daughter would have probably been less anxious had she just had a little canned script to give when the person answered the phone. Yeah. But sounds like she got the information she needed.
Oh, so fun. So number two is to allow your kids time in their own head. Especially after a really busy thing, like when they come home from a birthday party or if they’ve had a lot of superficial interaction that takes effort. Talking to people that they don’t know very well, then just having a, a little break from engagement can be what they need. So my 14 year old daughter, a lot of times when we get home from something, she does musical theater and it’s really rambunctious and there’s a lot of stimulation and when we get home, she goes straight to her room. She doesn’t stay there that long. But my husband’s like, is she okay. Oh my gosh, she’s going straight to her room. And I’m like, if she just needs a little time to decompress and to not have so much stimulus around her, she’s fine.
You know, she’ll tell me if something’s bothering her or if she doesn’t come downstairs within, you know, 20, 30 minutes that I might mosey up there and go I’m right here. But she just needs time in her own head. And sometimes I have to ask for permission to get time in my own head. The extroverts in my life don’t realize they’re using me up sometimes. And so I’ll have to say, you know, I really need some time in my own head. If you need me, I will be here for you, but many, and this is just something that maybe can wait, could it? And then they, my extroverted daughter will say, okay, mama, you let me know when you’re ready to come out.
So, you know I, especially in the teen years, we can tend to assume maybe they’re depressed or there’s something really bad going on, but really it’s just that they need, you know, time to withdraw. And that can be healthy. I mean, it can be a sign of something going wrong if it’s not in somebody’s nature or if it’s very uncharacteristic. I’m not saying ignore it all the time, but for an introvert, it’s something we need. Another thing is to support your child’s one-on-one deep friendships. Don’t always assume that they want to have 10 girls spend the night. Maybe it’s just the one and that’s okay. She doesn’t have to, she or he, they don’t have to have a huge group of friends just because that might be the way you went through life. It is normal for introverts to go deeper with fewer people and it’s not a sign that they’re not doing well socially or that they’re not happy socially.
This is what fits for them. So that it’s important to acknowledge that, especially if you’re an extroverted parent, you may worry that they just aren’t making friends like they should and you want to just be really cognizant of that difference. The next one is to give grace after leaving overstimulating environments. I am my very meanest right after a swim meet, especially if I’ve been stressed because sometimes if my daughter’s emotionally stressed for one of her events or if something doesn’t go well and then there are tears, it’s so overstimulating, there’s so much emotion going on. And then I just am not at my best adult behavior after that. So imagine kids, you know, we try to hold it together and for the most part we do pretty well. But you can tell when you’re really having to try to hold it together.
Well, kids just aren’t as good at it as we are. And so we need to give them a little grace and a little space right after they’ve been in overstimulating. It might’ve even been something that was so much fun for them, like a day at Disneyland or something. And you might think, why are you acting out? This is totally ridiculous. You just had the best day of your life. Well, they just can only tolerate so much and then they’re used up. So, it’s just to maybe give them a little margin of not being accountable for their behavior, right? Or at least, you know, you just keeping that in mind, you’re not going to let them, you know, completely misbehave. But you may want to just say, Oh honey, I know that was a really crazy day. Why don’t you go spend 10 minutes instead of, no, you need to be friendly and you need to answer questions and blah, blah, blah.
So the other thing is to allow processing time while extroverts process outwardly with words, many introverts process internally and some process internally without words. So an introvert, if an extrovert will say, what’s going on in your head? What are you thinking about this? Sometimes the introvert you’re talking to not only will have to, first, they’ll have to translate it into words and then they have to find the energy to spit the words out. So this is all it drives my husband crazy because he wants to talk, talk, talk everything. And he’s, he just really wants to process and he wants to make sure he understands all my thoughts. Well, I want them to understand my thoughts too, but I have to first understand my own thoughts and it just takes me a little bit of time. And so he knows now that he needs to allow me this processing time.
So because I love him, he waits because, or because I love him. I, produced the words and because he loves me, he waits. But this goes the same way for a a parent child relationship. Sometimes you just have to allow that introvert in your life, some processing time. And if you are the introvert, then you have to forgive yourself for the fact that you have processing time and find a phrase that indicates to your loved ones that you’re in your processing time and that you’ll try to get to them to communicate with them as soon as you can. And that just kind of lets them know what’s going on with you. Because I don’t know about you, but my face betrays me. I have facial expressions that like right now I’m looking at myself on this video and I’m thinking, I look really mad, I feel happy, I don’t feel bad.
So obviously some, sometimes our face cannot express appropriately what’s going on. So, and there’s that. Then ask your introvert for specifics about their fears to draw them out. I had so many fears as a child and I had a really, really happy upbringing with two really wonderful plugged in loving parents. But because my mom was my soul mate, my main caretaker, and she’s a total extrovert, it just wouldn’t have occurred to her that I wouldn’t be discussing things with her that I was afraid of. And so I am, that was not her fault. That was not my fault. It never occurred to me to let her know what I was afraid of if, but I know now if I had discussed some of those things with her, it would have helped and it would have dissipated my fears. So with my daughter who’s introverted, every now and then I’ll just kind of ask her, you know, how did you, you know, how did you feel about that?
Is there anything in particular that’s worrying you about this situation? And you know, sometimes you have to do the digging because the introvert is not going to know. It’s just not going to occur to them to express some of those things and they aren’t going to understand the value in discussing it until you’ve made it happen. The other thing is to be supportive of solitary activities. Introverts like to do things by themselves. When I mention that I’m a runner to to extroverts who are runners, they’re like, Oh great, let’s, let’s go for a run together sometime. And while I like to do that now and then running is my alone time, I don’t want to do it with someone else. Not only is it hard to think of somebody that, you know, topics of conversation for that long, but also it’s hard.
I don’t want to talk while I’m running. I’m out of breath, I’m sucking wind, I’m out of shape or whatever. I want to listen to my podcasts. So don’t assume that your child is lonely or is sad if they’re wanting to play solo games or do solo activities, taking walks alone needing solitude, reading. I think an extrovert who isn’t monitoring words very well may say to their introverted child, you don’t ever spend time with your friends. What is wrong with you? Like it’s out of concern, but it sounds like criticism. So supporting those solitary activities and knowing that those have value for your introvert. Another trick that I heard, which doesn’t apply to me or my daughter, but I know it is good for some introverts is to arrive early so that you don’t walk into a crowded situation, but rather you’re early.
And so while you’re there, people are trickling in one and one at a time and you don’t have to be bombarded all at once. I’m a procrastinator and I’m always late to everything. So it doesn’t work for me, but some people like that. The last tip that I have is that if you are an extrovert and you are needing time with your introverted loved one, try to do a shoulder to shoulder activity. This way there’s no face to face interaction. It’s a much, much less intense, but you’re still together and you’re still doing something together. Go for a drive, go for a walk, do a jigsaw puzzle, watch a movie, something that you are experiencing together. And I’m not saying don’t talk, but just you know, to, to be shoulder to shoulder in that posture instead of face to face is a really good way for your introvert to give you that time together without, you know, depleting them of what they’re needing.
So yeah, those are my tips.
That’s great. And one thing too, while you’re talking through that, I was thinking with my daughter, when she comes home from school, my daughter swims as well. After practice or after a meet, you know, those just aren’t the greatest times. She just comes home. She might take a hour and a half bath. And you know, I found that those just aren’t the times for me to ask How are you, how did it go? What do you think? She will put on her headphones and that is just her time. But she opens up like late at night.
Oh really? Okay. I was going to say when is her time, because that’s a really good tip that I should add is to know what time of day or what phase of day or life that your introvert is most likely to communicate and you’ve figured it out with your daughter.
So it took a little while because that’s not my time.
Cause you’re not a night owl.
But because it is her time though, you know, I’ve learned to as much as I want to go to bed at 10 I no longer, you know, I tried to stay up a little bit later and you know, I put her brother to bed and then I come into her room and just let her talk at 10 o’clock. Because that’s her time that she just really feels like opening up. And if I try to talk to her in the morning, forget it. She’s not talking and she’s not talking after school, but in the evening, that’s when she just wants to talk and relax, laugh.
Oh, that’s so good. That’s a new number 10. Thank you Jen. So yeah. And you know, now that you’re mentioning this, my mom used to pick me up from high school.
I was young for my grade. I didn’t have my driver’s license until later. That was my time right after school, which actually is kind of surprising for an introvert. But our high school was pretty much it was sort of high discipline, so there wasn’t a lot of interacting. It was going on in the classroom. So I didn’t find the classroom time very overwhelming necessarily. Lunch was overwhelming. Yes. But class time, not so much. So when my mom picked me up from high school, I just told her every detail of the day, every, you know, everything that I thought she would like to know and things I wanted to talk through with her. And that was our time. So when I started driving we really missed that. And I’m trying to figure out with my girls when their time is too.
Driving for me is my favorite thing with my introverted daughter. Honestly, now that we are talking about that, so I’m going to have to figure out how to replace that. Once she’s driving for herself, we may have to do go for walks or she oftentimes actually she will say, can you just come to my room for a few minutes before she goes to bed and we’ll, we’ll both lie on our backs on her floor, cause her beds up in her loft and I’m not going up there but, and and we just talk staring at the ceiling and so, and I think that, so what is your, just out of curiosity, are you guys looking at each other and face to face when you’re talking in the evenings you are. Okay. So she’s full on face to face wanting to interact at that point.
She really wakes up at 10.
Oh my gosh, I used to be like that too.
I can relate and I don’t know if that’ll last cause I’m not much of a night owl anymore, but yeah. Oh that’s so good. You know, just it’s such a gift when we can find our kids, you know, how they tick or what their currency is. Or if we can just figure out some little nugget about them. Like when they best want to communicate, communication is not their forte, then yeah. It just really makes everybody’s life so much better.
I agree. Well thanks so much for all of those tips. l really relate to them. Oh good. Thank you.
Well I hope it helps somebody and maybe it’ll help extroverts to understand and it might explain to introverts why they need what they need and how to get what they need and then hopefully it’ll help with them parent child interactions in the future.
I think so.
Thank you so much for having me on.
Thanks for coming on. Do you want to tell everyone where they can find you?
Oh, that would be great. The place where I am most of the time right now is on my podcast, Fancy-Free, which is a place where my girlfriends and I tell our most embarrassing funny stories so that we all feel less alone in our imperfections and that has been fun. It’s a total hoot. We laugh our heads off. I also blog at cozyclothesblog.com and you can find me on Facebook at Shelfie Shop, which is my clothing line, which is being manufactured as we speak or on Facebook at fancy free or you can even join the fancy free group if you’d like to be in a private conversation with other listeners and I’m on Instagram as at fancy free podcast.