Raising an extroverted child: Tips for introverted parents
Read this article for information on handling Little Miss/Master Extrovert.
Do you enjoy solitude for long periods and are not really fussed if you don’t talk to anyone for a whole day? If you answered “yes”, then it’s highly likely that you are an introvert.
The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines introversion as “the state of or tendency toward being wholly or predominantly concerned with and interested in one’s own mental life.”
So if you are an introvert, having time alone is very important to you. Also, you wouldn’t really feel lonely if your only company for the whole day is a book.
But what happens when you become a parent to a bubbly, noisy, vivacious child who thrives in the company of others and doesn’t seem to ever stop talking?
Will I ever have a quiet moment alone again? you ask yourself. And what I am to do with my extroverted child? How can we ever get along?
Before you start panicking, it’s best to first see if your little one truly is an extrovert. Below are common characteristics of an extroverted child:
- Loves to be around other people.
- Talks a lot.
- Doesn’t like being alone and finds it very difficult to be so.
- Generally doesn’t like solitary activities.
- Shares a lot about everything, even with total strangers.
- Does not really understand why someone might want to be alone.
If, after reading the list above, you find that your child is truly an extrovert, the next step you’d want to take is to figure out how to raise him/her in a balanced way that nurtures his/her outgoing nature (without going crazy yourself, of course!).
We’ve made things a bit easier for you, by rounding up the following tips:
1. Think like an extrovert.
Whether you are a stay-at-home mum or a working mum, there will be times that you crave for time for yourself, especially after a long day.
Do remember that this is exactly how your extroverted child is not feeling after a long day, and she’s probably bursting with the need to talk to you!
While you shouldn’t deny yourself of “me-time”, make a conscious effort to devote a solid block of time to your chatty little one, allowing for loads of positive interaction with her.
Whether it’s going for a daily walk together, talking about her day, or even just reading together, don’t let her think that acting up or throwing a tantrum is the only way she can get your attention.
2. Insert ‘recharging time’ into your daily schedule.
Find ways to turn certain activities where you are guaranteed to be alone into ‘recharging time’.
For example, listen to soothing music or read a book on your commute home after work, or choose solitary activities for exercise, such as walking or running alone rather than going to a crowded and noisy gym.
This way, you’ll be re-energised enough to spend positive time with your little chatterbox without feeling like you want to run away!
More tips on the next page…
3. Learn to listen.
According to parenting expert Jen Lilienstein, one of the most challenging aspects of parenting an extroverted child is listening — i.e. you listening to your child and vice versa.
Lilienstein explains that this is most probably because you and your child’s “listening blocks” are very different from each other.
Your little extrovert is probably more inclined to a more “layered” type of listening, which may result in the both of you “talking over each other” when you are trying to get a point across to her.
To overcome this issue, Lilienstein recommends the following exercise to help your extroverted child listen and communicate better:
1. Get a box of unsharpened pencils. Give her some and keep some for yourself.
2. Then sit down to talk about whatever it is you wish to discuss.
3. When either one of you speaks, you must put down one of the pencils. You can only speak when you’ve got a pencil to use.
By doing this, your child will learn to structure the conversation in a way that helps her listen to you more attentively, before she adds her side of the story.
4. Let your child interact with others.
Create plenty of opportunities for your child to interact with as many people as possible, whether other adults, extended family or other kids.
Organising regular playdates with other children is a good way for you to do this. You can also try bringing your child with you to social functions or family gatherings as often as possible.
5. Teach her when to hold back.
Extroverted kids have the habit of wanting to share everything with everyone, even if they don’t know them.
Thus, it’s important that you teach your little one that it’s not OK to share personal details with everyone, especially if they are strangers.
You should also tell her that sometimes, people just want some alone time and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Better yet, teach her how to have her own alone time.
Take her for a walk to a beautiful park. Sit down with her, hold her hand, and show her how you can appreciate beautiful things in silence, yet still enjoy another person’s company while doing so.
6. Learn to live in the ‘now’.
Extroverts have the knack of living in the present and savouring the ‘now’, unlike many introverts, who tend to focus on the past or think about the future.
The good thing is that your extroverted child can actually help you live in the moment.
As parents, we know how precious the present is, given that the our children will not remain small forever. Let your child teach you how to appreciate the ‘here and now.’
Count your blessings every time she demands to talk to you “right now” or show you that fairy sitting on that flower immediately.
Be grateful whenever she gabs on and on about every little thing — pretty soon, she’ll be chatting away with someone else, like friends from school, or maybe even a boyfriend!
In the blink of an eye, the ‘present’ will be gone and your outgoing little darling will grow into a serious young adult. So cherish every moment you have with her.
Are you an introverted parent to an extroverted child? How do you parent him or her? Share your tips with us by leaving a comment below.