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Today's Family Magazine

Understanding your child’s personality type

By Sharon Apel Bursky, PhD, IMFT-S, AAMFT
Director of Behavioral Health Services
Senders Pediatrics

The terms introvert and extrovert identify the way people are energized by either their internal world (introverts) or their external world (extroverts).  The introverted/extroverted preference is noticeable from the time children are young, and can be objectively measured by second grade, using an instrument called the MMTIC® (Murphy-Meisgeier Type Indicator for Children) assessment. 

The lists below outline characteristics of both extroverted and introverted children. 


  • Work well in large groups and enjoy interacting with others 
  • Like to try new things
  • Act before thinking 
  • Adapt easily to new situations 
  • Exhibit energy and enthusiasm for activities 
  • Become energized by activities and spending time with others  
  • Friendly, outgoing, talkative, and easy to get to know 
  • Are spontaneous and often change their minds 
  • Are verbal communicators 
  • Often communicate ideas before formulating their final thoughts 
  • Respond quicker to questions than introverts 
  • Prefer individual or small group activities 
  • Are energized by ideas 
  • Think before they act 
  • Carefully formulate ideas before sharing  
  • Like to observe things before trying them 
  • Internal processors- may not share their thoughts and feelings with others 
  • Need time for privacy and spend time alone to recharge
  • Dislike interruptions 
  • Can ignore distractions 
  • May appear reserved and quiet 
  • Prefer calmer, less stimulating environments 
  • May prefer to write or draw over talking 

Learning styles in the classroom
Extroverted students have a strong need to connect with peers before having the expectation to sit and listen and are more engaged in learning when they have the freedom to discuss the information during learning.  Extroverts need very little processing time, which means they can engage in discussion and answer questions quickly.   But their energy drives introverted teachers crazy. Introverted students, on the other hand, may respond more slowly or show a reluctance to share their ideas until they are clearly formed.  Due to their tendency to think internally, teachers may hear silence which is the time necessary to process new information.  Extroverted teachers often erroneously interpret this silence as lack of knowledge or distractibility.  Mismatch of type between teachers and students occurs frequently.  

Learning styles at home
Extroverted children may come home from school energized, talkative and ready for the next activity.  This can be overwhelming to introverted parents.  The worst rule would be to require this child to do homework before being allowed to play.  Creating a routine where the extroverted child has time for physical movement or socialization before homework is recommended.

Introverted children are drained from interacting with others all day and need some time alone to recharge when coming home from school.  This can be hard for extroverted parents to appreciate and they often force their children to interact upon returning home eliciting a lot of short answers like “no,” “I don’t know” or “nothing.”  Allow your child time to regroup, and they will likely talk endlessly. 

Understanding your own personality type is essential in supporting your child’s personality type. Without this understanding, parents often force their children to behave in their own image.  For example, an introverted child will behave like an extrovert if the parent appears to value extroverted behaviors.  But it is exhausting for children to operate in their less-preferred learning style leading to stress which manifests itself with symptoms of anxiety, depression, or anger.  

A great reference for every parent is the book Quiet by Susan Cain.  If you don’t have time to read the book, view the TED talk available on YouTube.  It will change the lives of every parent, both extrovert and introvert.

Contact Senders Pediatrics at 216-291-9210 or visit