If you happen to be introverted (like I am) and you have a sweet little whirlwind of extroversion in your house, (like I do) you might find it especially difficult to relate to your child (like I have).
I’ve mentioned before that my daughter is the only extrovert in a family of introverts. While I wonder sometimes what planet she came from, I can see her struggle too. She is always looking for some social interaction. Something to do. Somewhere to go. She gets bored so quickly. While the rest of us are content to enjoy our quiet and solitary activities, I see loneliness and depression creeping up on my girl.
Her idea of fun is not my idea of fun. Yet, as her parent, I have to give her room to be who she is and grow into who she should be. I don’t want her to reach adulthood and say, “My parents didn’t play with me. They never had any time for me. We never did anything fun.”
It’s hard for me. It’s outside of my comfort zone. But it’s my responsibility. So, I’ve found a few things that have helped to balance our personality needs.
1. Schedule lots of play dates.
Give your extroverted child plenty of opportunity to have social time. Plan times for her to play with friends, go to the park, and join some extracurricular activities. Let these times be scheduled so you can mentally prepare for them and so she knows that there is a time and place for group activities.
2. Meet all friends.
She is going to have friends. Lots and lots of friends. Some of them you may wish were not her friends. You may wonder why she likes some of them at all. But, in any case, know who they are. Make sure all her social time with her friends is supervised.
My daughter can get mixed up in everyone’s drama so quickly. She loves it. It’s so exciting for her to be involved with the interactions and emotional tides of her friends. Knowing her friends (and their parents) gives me a better idea of what type of drama my daughter may be encountering. Some of it is best to be avoided. Some of it is just normal kid stuff.
Listen carefully to the play-by-play. Don’t worry. She will give you one. You’ll be able to pick up on which of her friends are instigators and which ones have the most influence over her. You can also find out when she is involved in being mean or bossy to others. Nip that in the bud quickly.
3. Be open and accept all feelings.
Your extroverted child needs an outlet for her feelings. She might be concerned about her friends. She might be scared about growing up. She might be anxious about what others think about her. She may have fears that seem to have no basis. Whatever her fears or feelings are, accept them. They are hers. She isn’t wrong for feeling them. Do not overreact. It will close any chance of verbal communication.
Once you acknowledge her feelings, you can guide her into some truths about the situations that are concerning her. Help her to talk about it and realize that not everything is as it seems. Some of her fears are irrational. Some of her concerns are valid. Talk through them all.
Give her some instructions on how to diffuse stressful situations. Clearly state what situations and conversations are not okay and when to get away. Make sure you always give her a solid and comfortable place to go to when she doesn’t know what to do with her feelings.
4. Offer hands on learning opportunities.
It’s very likely that your extroverted child is a kinesthetic learner. She relates best to the world with hands-on activities. This is where team sports, music lessons, art class, or martial arts are important. Not only does she learn something practical, but she is around other people while she’s learning. Camaraderie is very important to an extroverted child. She has people with which to relate because of mutual interests.
5. Introduce fun solitary activities.
It’s important that your extroverted child learns how to spend time alone. There are some activities that are just not possible to do with others. She needs to learn the skill of working alone.
Create a fun environment for her to work in. My daughter’s bedroom is decorated with bright colors and wild animal prints. Its full of all her favorite things. In here, she can listen to her music. She can paint or craft. She can read. She can practice fancy hair styles. It’s her place to do the things she likes by herself.
6. Show lots of enthusiasm.
Extroverted children feel everything to the max. When she’s excited, she’s super excited. When she’s upset, her world is ending. Try to match her level of enthusiasm. Even if it feels unnatural.
My daughter loves to send me emails or write little notes. She uses lots of exclamation points. I will answer her likewise. Even though I generally despise the use of exclamation points. If feels too much like yelling!!!!!!!! But if she’s excited about something, I want her to know that I’m excited too. If something means a lot to her, then it means a lot to me.
She also shows how much she cares with lots of hugs and cuddling. Because she craves people, her natural way to show affection is by physical touch. Don’t shake her off or be too busy to cuddle. When my daughter gives me a hug, I let her hug me until she’s done. That’s how she knows she’s loved.
7. Be positive!
Since extroverted children have such intense emotions, it’s important that you stay very positive about life. Keep your sarcasm and cynicism to yourself when they are around. Don’t rain on their parade. Instead, let your extroverted child be your personal, bouncing bundle of sunshine. She will bring so much good to her world. No one will cheer harder for you or love you more than she can.
What are some ways that you’ve connected with your extroverted child? I’d love some more tips in the comments!!!!! 🙂