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Dealing with Extrovert Daughter as an Introvert?

Questioner

F (35_female_Canada)

Reply Date

May 13, 2017

Question

As-Salamu Alaykum. Both my daughter and I were raised in the West. I went to elementary school to university in the West and my daughter was born here. She is 7 years old. Therefore, our issue is not a cultural problem as we are both from the same culture. It is more a personality clash problem. I am an introvert and she is an extreme extrovert. I like to relax and think after work and she wants a ton of people around. I try to balance her needs by taking her places but it is never enough. She wants constant company, laughter, talking and people to entertain. I get drained after 1 hour and really exhausted after 2 hours. My concern in our travel is how to deal with this issue as I feel worried she may keep demanding round the clock and socializing while I want to rest and relax over a cup of tea.

Counselor

Answer


Extrovert Daughter

As-Salamu ‘Alaykum  my dear sister,

May your journey with your daughter go well for the both of you, in sha ‘Allah.

Dear sister, although you may have been raised in the same culture, your daughter is from a new generation. Therefore, there are qualities in relationships that may or may not have been transferred from you to your daughter depending on other influencing factors. To a great degree, extroversion is a cultural issue.

All human relations provide an opportunity for us to learn about ourselves because each person is like a reflection. Given that how a person relates to you is not always determined by you; there are many aspects of socializing to consider. This is even more so with children who are being raised in a social environment that will have a stronger influence on that child’s self-perception and perception of human relations. For example, when a child realizes that they can always have their own way, naturally they will make more and more demands.

Don’t force a child to behave like you, for surely, they have been created for a time which is different to your time.” ‘Ali Ibn ‘Abu Talib

You see yourself as an introvert and your daughter as being the extreme opposite, which is what secular life teaches, ‘opposites’, leaving no room for inclusion which requires a balance between all things. Both terms were coined by a psychoanalyst, Carl Jung, who saw introversion as a person who is directed to the inner world and extrovert as a person who is directed to the outer world. As an introvert who is often called upon to be the opposite, I can sympathize with you, especially when one desires stillness.

A person who is continually going through extroversion has no desire or time to get in touch with themselves. They are always outward bound that is away from them and may not be really connecting with the people around them in a manner that bonds relationships. The introvert is habitual in communicating inwardly, the other person is being deprived of that connection, and whereas an extreme extrovert is busy agitating social activity, they may not be receptive to others. In your daughter’s case, there might be an element of her desiring emotional contact from you, the real you, which she might feel she is being deprived of; hence your daughter may be demanding attention in order to compensate for what she might feel she is missing from you.

In short, you both need to really connect with each other as your daughter may be feeling left out of your world. This connection is not about verbal communication, but about being emotionally available. It amazes me how much my own daughter can relay to me my inner landscape from when she was just a toddler. A child is more receptive than you think, but because they lack the words to express what they register subconsciously, they may be perceived as less knowledgeable and less understanding.

In general, a child who is nurtured amidst faith and with that faith, mutual trust, mutual respect, mutual love, and mutual compassion will naturally develop a sense of belonging as well as a sense of self. They will develop skills and abilities according to their inclination. With a sense of belonging, comes taqlid, emulation, and in sha ‘Allah, the child will have good role models to emulate.

You can help each other by learning to be emotionally available to each other. For instance, for an hour a day, find a quiet space in your home and pray together, even though technically, your daughter is not of the age whereby it is wajib obligatory on her to do 5 daily prayers. Treat it as an adventure, a journey within for both of you. If your daughter is restless, just focus on your prayers, letting her know that you want to do it with her. When you have finished praying:

  • Lay comfortably on the fall together. Teach yourself and your daughter to breath together to help still the mind.
  • Start with breathing in and out on a count of 1, then 2 until you can breathe in and out on a count of 5 together. In this way, you will get the calm you need and you will also be teaching your daughter to slow down and connect inwardly.
  • Then, in the same position, from your toes upwards, tense each part of your body together and on a count of 5 suddenly let go of that state of tension. Focus your minds on the part of the body that you have told your daughter that you and she are going to concentrate on: the toes, then the arch of the feet, then the ankles, the shin, the knees, the thighs and so on.
  • If there is trembling, it is a sign of resistance.
  • If there are tears, it is a sign of blocked emotions or emotions that you or your daughter has held on to for a long time. When that happens, ask your daughter what she is feeling, so that she can acknowledge it. If it happens to you, also say what you are feeling.
  • If it is something that you do not feel comfortable saying to your daughter, acknowledge what you are feeling so that you can release it, but tell your daughter that it hurts, or that you feel sad, or that you feel tired, but do not go into denial about it.
  • At this point, this is where you stop, whether it is so that you daughter can acknowledge what she is feeling, or so that you can acknowledge what you are feeling.

 

Do not fear the exercise above each day. Try to tense and relax more of your bodies when you are able to get past the point that ‘hurts’. Remember, it is about sharing with one another. Also, do not be alarmed at what you daughter tells you; be accepting so that she does not fear to connect with her inner landscape. Besides, this is one of the attributes of prayer. In this way, your daughter will learn to be herself and that she does not have to ‘perform’ to gain attention.

With time, you will learn to express yourself with her, and your daughter will learn to be more accepting of herself, to relax, appreciate why you need to relax, and to be more receptive to her true needs and the true needs of others. We can be so busy trying to get somewhere in life that we forget ourselves, hence the importance that your daughter learns that being an extrovert has its place and that you learn that being an introvert has its place.

If there are moments on the holiday that you find awkward, do not be hard on your daughter, instead, find a space for you and her whereby you can be together and talk about what’s up! The holiday will be a good experience for her, because then at first hand, she will experience different ways of relating to one another and children who are more likely to have different interests than what she is used to. Your daughter will need lots of space to understand her new experiences.

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About Hwaa Irfan

Late Hwaa Irfan, may her soul rest in peace, served as consultant, counselor and freelance writer. Her main focus was on traditional healing mechanisms as practiced in various communities, as opposed to Western healing mechanisms.

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