Did you find yourself with at least one very social extroverted child? Meeting their needs can be tough, particularly when you are an introvert! Here are several tips for raising an extroverted child when you’re an introvert.
The longer I do this parenting gig the more I realize how different every child is and that each come with their own personality. When I was due with my first, the CEO of the company I worked for gave me some of the best parenting advice. He told me you learn they come as they are, and you’re a bystander just helping guide them to good attitudes and experiences. As I see my own child’s wants and dreams surface, I realize how wise this was!
As we’re nearing exiting the toddler phase into full-blown child mode, I’m seeing this burst of personality with my little guy. He does and says things I would never have expected! He’s an excellent talker and expresses his wants and needs well. What has truly shocked me is his extroverted and social personality.
Introvert and Extrovert Split Family
Most people peg me as an extrovert shortly after meeting me. It’s true, I like people and social functions. People give me energy and conversations in groups energize me. But I am on the introverted-extrovert side. I realized in my former teaching career how much I needed some alone quiet time every day. I was always tempted to make more money and give up my prep hour to teach another class. But on the days school schedules shifted and I didn’t have a prep hour alone in silence I barely survived! The career change to project management with about 60% social meetings and conference calls and 40% quiet spreadsheet, budgets, and contract solo work alone in silence suited me well!
As much as I like getting out and doing things, I really like quiet days feeling productive at home too. Even as a mom, I find some alone time for me every day really makes all the difference in balancing my slightly an introvert needs.
My husband is on the extroverted-introvert side. He’s fine with more quiet days, he loves small groups or dates just with two of us. But he really doesn’t mind working in spreadsheets alone 90% of the day. However, when he worked abroad this past summer he told me he felt so alone in a foreign country. He realized some social time is so important. And thus we balance each other out. We can party together, we can give space, and we completely fulfill each other’s social needs and quiet time needs with a little effort and planning.
When You Have an Extroverted Child
I expected my child to be like my husband. He looks just like him, why wouldn’t he be more introverted? I had thoughts of homeschooling, ideas of structured play at home, and plans to book girls’ nights so I could get out and fulfill my own social needs. But something crazy happened, a very extroverted child came to our family.
I hear pretty much every day an announcement of where we are going and what we need to do.
“Oh it’s Sunday, we go to church! I go to nursery class and see my friends!”
“YAY! It’s preschool day! I see my teacher and my friends!”
“Oh, today is babysitter day, right? I get to play with (insert nanny’s name here)!”
The two days a week we stay home and clean or just run a few errands together are by far his least favorite days of the week. As much as I know he loves me, he REALLY craves group play and social attention. It has been shocking to watch this social butterfly so independently announce how much he’d like to go play with others each day.
Knowing Your Extroverted Child’s Needs
I had a friend recently complain about their young preschooler having such a hard time with the new baby their family welcomed. She apparently wakes up baby often. She gets really annoyed that mom isn’t paying enough attention to her. And the list goes on and on how everything changed for this child when the baby came. But guess what else changed, she went from preschool time and daycare part-time to full-time at home with introverted mom and baby.
As I heard her sadness in the lack of sleep and peace in her life during a conversation, it was so obvious to me as an outsider that she’s an introvert catering to her needs and new baby’s needs. With this, her extroverted preschooler is melting down at home every day. This is causing stress and strain for all parties!
As I look to a new baby, I wonder what his life will be like if it’s an introvert. He has a mom and older brother who fill schedules up five out of seven days a week. Will he be exhausted? Will he be overstimulated and overwhelmed? He may have his own needs for an alone quiet time at home. And that has me thinking so much about how to raise an introvert when you’re an extrovert. And how to raise an extrovert when you’re an introvert.
I’ve talked to friends and family members about this quite a bit since it’s been on my mind. Through my own experience and gleaming the experience of many otherwise mothers, I wanted to share our best advice.
Tips for Raising an Extroverted Child When You’re an Introvert:
- Try to find something to do every day, even if only for an hour.
That may be a playgroup. This may be park time. Maybe it’s preschool or daycare you can drop them off to be social for a little bit while you sit in silence. But make sure they have at least a little time for their needs every day.
- Give them one on one attention daily.
I may not be a let’s sit on the floor and play for hours mom, but that doesn’t mean I can’t sit and read a stack of books for 20 minutes. Or maybe we’ll do a puzzle together. I make sure to give lots of physical hugs and touch while I do this so he knows I’m there. He feels the social presence.
- Talk to them and Listen.
This is much like the last, but I find during lunch or snack time I really just need to listen. Even if I don’t care for an hour-long discourse about a specific toy or character, it matters to my kid. I know the things I listen to now will pay off as he gets older and has bigger things to talk about. He needs my attention if others can’t socially fill it.
- Put them in a class.
We started a preschool prep and it’s been the highlight of my child’s life! It can be something fancy or something cheap. But find a special group time or class for them to enjoy at least once a week. If you can’t help them extrovert every day, help them extrovert once a week. Also, it’s a bonus item because you get a break and so introvert time too.
- Include them in a family activity or family date
My son gets downright giddy when we tell him he gets to come on our date. He even puts on a button up shirt (announcing “I get my date shirt”) to get spruced up. He loves the social interaction as a family and it’s his favorite thing. We don’t do this every week, but it is the highlight of his life the weeks we do.
I’m sure there are a billion other tips and tricks, but at the end of the day, I think being the best parent is knowing your kid. That means being well aware of your extroverted child. And if your kid doesn’t have your same social aptitude, that means being an adult and doing what’s best for them at least some of the time.
Force yourself to help them get out. Force yourself to calm down and have some quiet days if you’re on the opposite side. Find a balance that works so the social needs of your kids can best be met, even if only one or two days a week.
If you’re reading this realizing you have the oppositive problem, check out tomorrow’s post: Raising an Introverted Child When You’re an Extrovert.
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