Children are filled with curiosity, energy and creative thinking, and it can sometimes feel challenging to keep up with even the most introverted young child. When your child is gregarious, outgoing and easily-distracted, the excitement of raising them can easily be overshadowed by the exhaustion you feel at just trying to keep up!
Do: Provide social outlets
You don’t have to be the sole social contact in your child’s day. In fact, it’s better if you’re not, as it can become tiring and frustrating for both of you. Instead, find social outlets that stimulate your child’s mind and allow them to get their interaction with others.
School can help, but for some extraverted children, the structured day can keep them from engaging as much as they want. Acting programs, sports teams, and even good old-fashioned playdates can all help to encourage your child’s engagement in healthy and sustainable ways. Lean into their interests and allow them to find others who are excited by the same cool things.
Avoid: Forcing yourself to keep up
Even us Extraverts know that it can be difficult to keep up with other extraverted personality types all the time. With children, it can be even more challenging, since they’re still learning new forms of communication and the world is full of curiosities and opportunities that they’ll want to share with you.
Remember, you don’t have to do it all.
As a parent, you have a lot of responsibilities, which includes things beyond simply engaging with your child. You also have a home to run, doctor’s appointments to make, Back to School Nights to attend, and playdates to plan. Even if you are naturally outgoing and energetic, your child’s boundless energy and lack of other responsibilities will be difficult to keep up with. And, that’s okay.
You can still plan activities and time together, but you don’t have to force yourself to run at your child’s speed -- quite the opposite. Your own speed is just perfect, and you shouldn’t feel guilty for needing a break.
Do: Teach them about other ways of being
It’s very important for young Extraverts to understand that not everyone will communicate like them. Maybe you’re an Introverted personality type or they have a sibling or friend who is. You can use that as an example for how to be respectful and engaged with people who communicate more quietly, or more indirectly, than they do.
This is essential, because your young Extravert may feel very frustrated when others don’t want to spend all their time with them or are constantly pushing for quieter play or time alone. Exploring new forms of communication—and active listening skills that focus on really hearing what others have to say—will help your child have more patience with others. Fundamentally, they must learn how to act and speak in social environments with personality types outside of their own.
Avoid: Trying to fill every second of every day
The truth is, kids should be bored. Of course, they shouldn’t be bored all the time, but it can be a very helpful lesson to provide time for them to entertain themselves. Young Extraverts need to learn the all-important skill of being alone with themselves as they grow up and begin to enter educational and social environments.
Allowing them the opportunity to make up games, create stories, go exploring, and generally learn to be at peace without outside stimulation is essential. Use it to help your young Extravert to find balance.
Do: Affirm their Extraversion
Young Extraverts are still learning how to express themselves and communicate in school and social environments. They probably won’t get it right every time! Being called out for boisterous or talkative behavior may have them feeling self-conscious, especially if they are struggling to follow the school’s rules. It’s essential that when they’re at home, they feel free to be themselves and are encouraged to embrace those natural parts of who they are.
Avoid: Treating their Extraversion like a bother
Of course, you wouldn’t do this intentionally! For young children, however, a lot of issues are viewed in black and white. If you tell a child that you’re too busy to play, they’ll see it as a rejection and internalize it, especially if their desire to be in social situations is at the core of who they are.
Instead, take the time to explain your feelings and listen to theirs so that everyone feels heard and understood. If you are an Introvert (or plain exhausted), discuss what you need to feel recharged and excited—the same way they need to play and have fun. Be honest and clear with them. You want them to know that their extraversion is something to be proud of and embrace, but also that others sometimes want space and calm and to have their own needs met as well.
Do: Plan in advance
As a parent, you’re probably used to planning in advance. With extraverted children, advanced planning takes on a whole new meaning. Use it to ensure that your child gets regular bursts of social stimulation, even on days when you’re too tied up with chores or work to engage in a major activity.
You’ll often find that the days when your child does not leave the house or see other people are the days when your child is the most frustrated and cranky. So think about your days in advance, and figure out a plan that works for everyone. This will help to prevent meltdowns and will keep the whole house running smoothly.
Avoid: Rushing them
If you’ve ever felt like the Extravert in your life is just using you to bounce ideas off, you’re not alone. Extraverts -- and especially those of the Perceiving variety -- like to talk through their experiences, weigh pros and cons, explore new information as it comes in, and change their opinion when it feels right. Your child is just learning about all the new and exciting things in the world, and they will likely want to process and work through these experiences out loud, with you.
What you shouldn’t do is try to hurry this process along. Rest assured your child will engage when they need your input, or just another body in the room! But you also want to allow them the space to come to their own conclusions and make informed, intelligent choices.
Each child is unique and individual, and parenting extraverted children will be different every time. It’s important to remember that your household needs balance in order to work effectively, so support and affirm your child’s extraversion while helping them to find ways to communicate with other personality types and be alone with their thoughts.
On the flip side, enjoy what they have to say and do as well. Extraverts are always finding new stories and learning new ideas, and you’ll never know what you might discover when you see the world through your child’s eyes.