Introvert or Extrovert ?

I guess it’s part of parenting to be interested in seeing how your child’s personality develops.  Recently I’ve seen some articles on the personality traits of introversion and extroversion.  Here’s one from Scientific American.      And here’s one from Slate.     We had been watching things like eye color, hair color, and all the other genetic traits, and he’s pretty much a clone of me.   As he gets older, both Ms. J and I have been interested to see wether Mr. C will turn out to be an introvert or an extrovert as well.

A few years ago, I took the Myers-Briggs personality assessment test and I am apparently just barely an introvert.  Ms. J is as well.  We’re both perfectly happy to attend parties and any other social gathering, but we might end up just talking to a few people, and probably will leave early.    So it’s been a bit of a surprise to see how much of an extrovert Mr. C is.    I’m not sure how much genetics influence personality traits like this, but he’s not taking after me in this area.    He is definitely an extrovert.

Just yesterday we were in Trader Joe’s ( a chain of markets here in the US).  The store has a game for the kids where they can get a lollypop if they find a stuffed duck named Hugo,  somewhere in the store.  Most of the kids I see in the store just wander around and look for the duck.  It’s usually not too hard to spot it, so the kids will find it eventually.  Mr. C though will actively find employees and ask them ‘Maybe you can give me a hint where Hugo is ?” ,  which of course they will all do.  “Hooray!  Hooray!”  he shouts at the top of his voice as he finds the stuffed duck.   They move the duck around the store, so the kids can have a challenge.  That just means that he asks more employees the more often they move it around.  ‘Where is it this week!’ he’ll say as he grabs someone in the dairy section.

When we go to places like the zoo, local farms,  or the historic sites in our area, there will often be someone giving a demonstration on  something or other. If there is a large enough crowd, especially if there are some kids in the crowd, the demonstrator will ask if someone from the audience would like to try what they are working on ?   I’m not sure how he does it, but 95% of the time Mr. C is that kid who is chosen from the audience to try it out.  He’s worked a millstone in an historic mill,  fed the pigs and goats at a local farm, fed elephants at the zoo,  and done all sorts of other things as well.

We were dropping Ms. J off at a local bus station when we saw a team of mechanics with a tow truck working on a bus.  He just walks right over, starts asking questions, and ends up using a remote control to raise and lower the bus on the tow truck.  This is a four year old, and he somehow charmed the tow truck operator into letting him control a very large, and very expensive tow truck in order to lift a very large and expensive bus.  (All done with a remote control device, so don’t worry, he wasn’t behind the wheel of any machinery.)

This may all be just business as usual for all the other parents out there, I don’t know.  All I know is that I never did anything like this when I was a kid.  A call of  ‘Can I have a volunteer ?’ would prompt me to sink down into my chair or look around and hope they picked someone else.  Apparently not Mr. C though,  he’s front and center.  Where does he get this from, I have no idea.  It’s not from either me or Ms. J.

When we go to restaurants he will charm the wait staff and will get all kinds of free treats.     Here he is making friends in a restaurant during our trip to Seattle earlier this year.



On the playground he will just pick out kids and assign them things to do.  ‘You be a dinosaur, and I’ll chase you!’.  Doesn’t matter if they are three years old or ten years old, most of the time they will then run around, act like a dinosaur, and Mr. C will chase them around.

‘ You should come over for dinner!’  he’ll say to parents of kids he’s just met on the playground.

When this happens, I think,  ‘Uggh,  Now I have to go over there and socialize with people!”





13 thoughts on “Introvert or Extrovert ?

  1. Ha! This is so me and my 4 year old daughter. I’m afraid she’s never going to have to work for anything because people are CONSTANTLY giving her free stuff. Totally randomly.

    • I wonder how long it will last, and how close his adult personality will be to what he is like now.

      More markets should do things like that. We go to TJ so often now it seems as though we’re eating mostly TJ food.

  2. Trying to figure out how our kids are is always a fun thing, isn’t it? I’d say your kid is definitely extroverted right now, but give him time and see if it will change a bit. My oldest was super extroverted when he was under 5 but he changed quite a bit after that. I’m not sure if it’s because he matured and become less impulsive, or because he started school and they trained him real hard to be quiet, or because of what happened at home. He says he’s shy now, but he really isn’t. He is uncomfortable in front of crowds. That’s the same kid who waved hi to an airplane full of passengers when he was 18 months old.

    By the way, did you read Quiet: the power of introverts? I bet you’d really like it.

    • I haven’t read it, but I did read the reviews on Goodreads awhile ago. It was interesting to see how personal the reviews were, much more than the usual ‘I liked this book’ type of review. Shows how important that issue is with people.

      Really the only comparison I have is my nephew, who at 19 years old is very different from the 4 year old I remember. I’m probably more outgoing than I was when I was young !

      • If you have time to read it, it’s worth it. It explains that it’s not because you’re an introvert that you can’t talk to a crowd. I found it really helpful not just for me but for my kids too, since they tend to me more extroverted at this time.

      • It sounds interesting. I’m interested in the ‘nature vs nurture’ aspect as well.

        I remember teachers trying to ‘help’ the introverted kids to be more outgoing, I hope they don’t do that anymore!

    • This book sounds fascinating. My sisters and I often debate this topic. Of the four I am probably the most introverted but my husband will never admit it because I can carry on conversations easily. One of my brothers-in-law says that all the Downey girls have the gift of gab.. knowing the give and take of a conversation.. how to keep it flowing. Yup, mom taught us “not to be shy.”.. I hate that word to this day. It was said with a negative connotation. I never used it with any of my three kids. One of my sisters is a way off the charts extrovert. Two of us had weddings with classical music playing and little fanfare. The others rocked it out. As we all say, the world needs both and everything in between.

      • I hate the “don’t be shy” phrase too. I heard it plenty of times when I was a kid. It shouldn’t be a bad thing to be one way or the other.

        Sorry for the long wait in responding, we were away for a few days!

    • It’ll be interesting to see what happens as he gets older.

      We usually try to encourage him to ask for things on his own, such as ordering at restaurants, or asking for a sticker at the toy store or market. Not sure if that helps in the long term, but he does seem more willing to talk to people the older he gets.

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