Introvert/Extrovert, Feeling/Judging? How do you handle this child?

These terms could give you a clue about how to handle your children. 938LIVE presenter Susan Ng speaks to two guests to find out more…


Are you wondering why your child seems to have a reality-distortion force field between them and “real life”? Well, we may have an answer for you from your child’s personality cues.

           In April 2015, 938LIVE’s Parenting Made Easy presenter Susan Ng interviewed Dr Elizabeth Murphy, who co-created a test for kids that uses four pairs of terms to indicate personality preferences —Extrovert/Introvert; Perceiving/Judging; Sensing/Intuitive and Thinking/Feeling. Ng also spoke with Alison Lim, a mother of three now-grown children, who uses the same four pairs in work and with her kids as they grew up.

           Dr Murphy works with the Murphy-Meisgeier Type Indicator for Children (MMTIC), which is related to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) that Lim uses.

So what is the MMTIC/MBTI?
Dr Murphy: They are tools, they are assessment measures to help you discover what is your best path for success in life…a way to identify normal, good differences that exist in people and to increase your understanding of your personal path for that awareness.

          They’re indications of…when I have an option I would more likely to go this way. But…if the situation requires quiet, all types can be quiet; if the situation requires interaction, all types can interact.

Extroverted, introverted and shy kids
Dr Murphy: Those with extroverted set of energy, tend to want to interact and do and be engaged; two extroverts can talk at the same time and hear each other because it’s just exciting and energising for them.

           Introverts prefer to reflect… [They] don’t hesitate all the time, they only hesitate when a thought is new. If you asked them a question that they already know the answer to — it might be a very complicated question — if they have already pre-thought, they can answer immediately. The only hesitation comes when you’re asking them a brand new thought. 

           Shyness is a whole different concept and an extrovert can be shy and an introvert can be shy. But in this model, we are talking about the hesitancy that only happen in the newness of a thought or in a newness of an interaction and really has nothing to do with shyness.

Lim: If you look at my three children, two of them will think and talk at the same time. I try to make sure that I follow their train of thought and not jump into the first [idea] because their first thought may not be their last thought. [MBTI knowledge] helps me be more patient and not jump to the conclusion that they are fickle-minded, they’re showing their preference for extroversion. 

           Whereas, my second child has a preference for introversion. Whenever I ask him a question, he takes a while to answer. In my natural style, I would ask him another question, maybe he didn’t understand my first question so I have to paraphrase. But…being aware of the preferences, I let him think about it and then come back to me sometimes when he needs to. 

Dr Murphy: I watched a commercial on TV in Atlanta, and it said, “At the end of the day, when your children get home, the first thing you should do is say to them, ‘Tell me about your school day.’” My eyes got so big, I was like, “Oh my goodness, that’s the perfect thing to do with all our extrovert children and the most…worst thing you could do for all our introverted children.” 

           If you have somebody who has spent all their energy all day interacting with teachers and friends, and they walk in to the door and you hit them with the question, “Tell me about your day!”
           They would be like, “Oh please!”
           “What happened?”
           “What did you do?”
           “What did you have for lunch?”
           And you think, “Oh my goodness, why aren’t they talking to me?”

           I use reciprocity, so that if I asked them to share something about their day, I share something about my day. [It] helps them learn that MY respect for your time and what you do is equal to what YOUR respect for my time and what I do should be.

           The funniest part about it is that if you ask the introvert the second question before they answer the first, you’re actually making them go back inside their head and think again — so instead of actually encouraging language, you are actually pushing language back further away. 

Ng: And you are likely not to hear from them for a while?

Dr Murphy: Oh, you got a fake answer. You get an answer to make you go away.