Your family is unique—and each child can thrive in it.
Your family is loud and active, with a lot of energy moving through the house. But does one of your children not quite fit that mold?
In this episode, Carol and Anne help you create space for a lower-energy, introverted child in a family of big energy. With some simple tips and conversations, you can make sure all of you have room to thrive.
This week’s Parenting Practice
Take note of the Energy Types of your family members. What is your balance of high and low energy? Try the tips in this episode to help each child in your family feel included, supported, and very much a part of the family unit.
Transcript of podcast episode
Carol: You don’t want your low…the one low movement child to feel like the black sheep of the family and they will.
Welcome to The Child Whisper Podcast. I’m your host, Carol Tuttle, author of the best-selling parenting book, The Child Whisperer. I’m with my co-host, Anne Tuttle Brown.
Anne: “We have a family of six, four kids and two parents. All of us are Type 1s or Type 3s, except our seven-year-old, Type 2 secondary 4 little boy. We really watch out for our 2/4. Although most of our family can be high movement, we honestly chill at home most of the time. I think we’re doing things right with my son quite often, but it seems like it’s taking a long time for our individual relationships to improve with him. Tonight, my husband I discussed getting a babysitter for our Type 2 son when we go out to do fun things as a family. In a perfect world, we really want his company, but I wonder if it’s more honoring of his double introvert energy to be at home with a babysitter. It seems unfair to the rest of the family to have him ruin the fun. I’d love your feedback on that idea.”
Carol: To put this in perspective, the thing that could be wearing out the Type 2 child is just the natural movement of so many high movement family members, so being around that constantly can be irritating and unsettling.
Anne: Even if you’re not going out and doing things a lot, just the energy of it.
Carol: Right, even though she says they’re at the home chilling well, you’re going to move how you move through life. I doubt they’re all chilling.
Anne: Yes, going to be a certain level of volume in activity.
Carol: Yes, and just a certain amount of buzz going around in the home, and so I think even more than the family activities, does this child have a designated spot that is their very own space they can go to, to remove themselves from the family movement? Because the family movement, at large, is going to be a much higher movement and it’ll feel irritating, and it will wear this child out in a subconscious way. They’re not thinking, “You’re all wearing me out.” It’s sort of like nails on a chalkboard for a Type 2 to be around high-movement family members constantly. Does this child have their own room? If not, do they have a part of a room that is theirs and only theirs, and do they have time that they spend in that space that no one can interrupt them?
Anne: And he’s only seven, so he may need some support in structuring that time and being reminded, “Why don’t you go and have your quiet time?”
Carol: Exactly, yeah.
Anne: Creating that space for him. So you may not have looked at your entire family unit like this before. You know, your Type, your husband’s Type, your kids’ Types individually. But take a minute, write it all down and notice, what’s the lineup? Are you predominantly higher-energy family, a lower-energy family, are you kind of spread out? And is there one, like in this family’s case, where there’s one on the bottom of the movement scale who’s a much lower, more inward movement than the rest of the family who lead with Type 3 and Type 1 energy?
Carol: We did an exercise recently in our Lifestyle content and produced a video to show the dominant and secondary Energy Types movement lineup from the highest movement person to the very lowest. And at the bottom of the spectrum was the Type 2 secondary 4. At the top of this spectrum was the mom in this case, because we happen to know this mom, is a 3/1, and you’ve got ten spots in between. It’d be worth your investment and Lifestyle to go and watch this video.
Anne: Watch that video.
Carol: And start to learn about this and your family dynamics.
Anne: Do the lineup of your whole family.
Carol: Yes, in fact, we’re going to be producing some content in Lifestyle about your family lineup and what you need to know about that. In this case, what the parents need to know as they are already practicing is, “Our son does not fit into that natural movement of the family as a whole as effortlessly as everyone else. What can we do to support him?” So the intentions are good. I don’t think it’s… It’s not a good idea to say, “We’re going to go do something fun. Do you want to stay home with the babysitter?” You’re like, “Err…” I think…
Carol: Yes, really. I think a seven-year-old is mature enough to have that conversation to say, “This is the plan,” and could they be involved in helping produce the plan to see that their needs are met also. What could have been chosen as a family experience that could cater to that one child individually? That maybe the family’s going to do certain things and they don’t have to be as involved, but they can still go. What are you doing to allow them their own experience within the family experience? And a seven-year-old is mature enough to be able to have that conversation to say, “Do you want to join in? Would you rather stay home?” Choosing in is choosing to be agreeable. “Here’s what we’re going to do.” How well did they know what the plan was? Just, “We’re going to go here, then we’re going to go here, then we’ll be doing this. And we’ll be doing this.”
Anne: We did get a little background information on what it looked like when she says, “Ruining the fun.” So they went on a family activity around Christmas time, and she picked them up early from school. I’m curious, did he know you’re picking them up…
Carol: Did he know? Yeah.
Anne: …early or was it a surprise? As a 2/4, he probably wasn’t… If it was a surprise or if you didn’t finish out that school day, kind of a rhythm and a routine and then get a reprieve from school. Because that’s a lot of movement too, and so if it’s like, “Boom, now we’re in the van, and we’re going to an activity, and I just need like a minute by myself before we go and do the next thing.”
Carol: Yes, did you sit down and go over what the whole activity looked like?
Anne: And if you want it to be a surprise for the rest of the family, just let him in on it. It’s okay. “Don’t tell any of your siblings. I know I can trust you. You’re a good secret keeper.” Do you think that would be weird for a family to say, “We’re going to get a babysitter for our one kid and go out and have fun?” Or do you think, no, that’d be great?
Carol: No, if the child… I wouldn’t do it, “You didn’t behave, so now we’re going to get you a babysitter.” It’d be in respect of them and support of them. If that’s what they felt was best, they could try it out, let’s try it out.
Anne: It could be…yeah.
Carol: “We’re going to have a lot more family activities. Do you want to try staying home and does this activity look fun to you? And if not, and who would you like to have as your babysitter?”
Anne: “And how can we make an enjoyable experience for you to have in that end?”
Carol: How can that be a supportive experience? So it’s not a consequence. It’s what she’s asking. I really think her intent is to say, how could he have a different experience that would support him if the one we’re choosing as a family doesn’t look attractive to him?
Anne: Just make sure it’s a babysitter that he knows or feels comfortable with…
Carol: Yeah, let him help plan all that.
Anne: …that’s not going to be trying to get him to do a lot of things, and like…
Carol: Yes, let him help plan all that, someone he’d want to spend some time with.
Anne: I always love a good night in and as a Type 2, if my husband has somewhere to go and I get, you know, it’s a quiet night by myself. That’s very rejuvenating for me.
Carol: One of my good friends is a Type 1, two of her children are Type 1s, and her husband is a Type 2, but meets them in that one space very readily. Their oldest daughter’s a Type 4 and I’ve had a chance to help her see that, “You know, your daughter’s not going want to be as busy as you guys stay.” Because they’re a very active family, incredibly active. They spent some time with us in Hawaii, and they were gone every day at 7:00 a.m.
Carol: We were like, “They’re gone. They’re out and about.”
Anne: The Type 4 daughter, was she with them or she…?
Carol: Anne Marie has now seen the wisdom in talking to her daughter and not taking it personally when her daughter says, “I really don’t want to go. Can I stay home by myself?”
Anne: That could be hard as a Type 1 mom.
Carol: She is older now. Yes, the mom was thinking, “No, you need to come have fun with the family.” And I helped her see, I’m like, “No, actually, she’s going to start resenting being with your family if she’s forced to do this so often. You’re so busy.” So she now has that liberty to stay home at times.
Anne: Well, that’s great because I think as a…
Carol: She’s older, she’s in her early teens.
Anne: She’s able to manage herself. But I think as a Type 4, especially in this case, could be like, “I’m not doing anything with my family ever again, because I’ve done way too much.”
Carol: Yes, they’ll take it to an extreme.
Anne: Where if they’re able to join in when they want and we stay home when they want, they’ll be able to keep that connection healthy and alive. But just do it at the times that feels correct for them.
Carol: Like in this case, they went to see a gingerbread house, and they were going to go out to dinner, so great. They got picked up from school, next activity, next activity. It may have been paced a little too intense for the Type 2 child.
Anne: And the mom’s probably super excited. Maybe had music blasting the car, like, “This is our special day out.” The kid’s like… She said he was audibly whining and moaning and groaning and like that’s when you know, okay, as a Type 2 especially, like, something’s wrong because you’re whining, like…
Carol: Yes, did he get to help influence the way it played out and know what was going on?
Anne: And she was trying to resolve it through the night, but at that point, you just need to restart. So I have three children, two are Type 3s, a 3/1 and a 3/4, and I have a 2/1 son. And so, I’m so grateful that I know this more than just like, you’re a Type 3, and you’re a Type 2. Seeing it in the lineup, he’s on the opposite end of the spectrum of my other two kids. And I’m kind of in the middle. My husband and I are in the middle of the two. I’m grateful I have this knowledge so that as moving forward, I can support him in getting the quiet time that he needs because I think he could just get caught up in the higher movement of his siblings being sandwiched in between them. And so it’ll be interesting just to see how all that plays out. Right now, he gets some quiet time at home as his little brother naps and his sister’s at school.
Carol: You don’t want the one low-movement child to feel like the black sheep of the family and they will. They’ll know they’re different. They feel a different sense of themselves in the world because they interact with the world from a different place and a different behavioral and perceptual and feeling-based experience. If you’re recognizing you have a child or a couple children that are a different movement than the majority of your family members, take time to establish rapport with them and invite them to help participate with the planning and the experience it’s going to play out, so they can have an enjoyable experience as well. How can you cater to their needs just enough that it doesn’t require the whole family catering to their needs, but they feel that they’re being honored as well?
And I do think that suggestion’s obviously in the mix to hire a babysitter, but we mentioned many other things that could be included as well if they haven’t been put to practice. What needs to be put to practice in your parenting approach with the child you notice is different than everyone else that they feel included, supported, and very much a part of the family unit.
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