May 18. 2022
A couple of years ago, I let my elementary-age daughter read through her progress report. It was full of positive feedback, so I thought she’d find it encouraging.
But her face fell when she read that she needed to work on “class participation.”
“I don’t understand. I always participate,” she said. “I listen and I do every single activity and assignment.”
She was genuinely confused.
“Oh,” I said lightly. “Class participation is just code for ‘talk more in class.’”
“Yeah, I don’t love doing that,” she said. “But if everyone talked, it’d be so noisy. And it’s already too noisy.”
My two children have fundamentally different temperaments: one tends toward introversion and the other toward extroversion. One treasures her quiet time after school: reading, writing, art, and snuggling with the dog. The other is energized by activity, noise, and large-group social interaction. Thankfully, temperament and character are not synonyms. Introverts, extroverts, and ambiverts can all become kind, hard-working, compassionate, and brave people.
As caregivers, sometimes we struggle to parent children who are temperamentally different from us. I see this more with extroverted parents and teachers who think that part of our job is to…