As I mentioned in 4 Tips To Raising an Introvert, I cannot believe how different my kids are. Raising them has been a Masterclass in understanding people and working with their individual needs. My daughter would be happy in a cave with wifi and a stocked refrigerator, but my son feeds off the energy he receives from interacting with people. He is most definitely an extrovert.
In some ways, he has the easier road when it comes to growing up. The world nowadays tends to favor people who can network and bond well with others. I worry less about how he will react to people and what he might say. In fact, I can rest easy because it’s almost guaranteed he will do whatever the “right thing” is for fear of somehow being left out of the group.
Only after navigating the path with him have I learned some of the challenges. Here are some of the tips I’ve used in daily life with him.
- Interaction with the world is crucial.
When my son was a toddler, we developed new vocabulary in our home “first run time” and “second run time.” Run time came about when we realized that our day went much more smoothly if our son had a chance to get out and move in the world. Ideally a park, but really, any sort of place with space and other people would do. Now that he’s in elementary school, we don’t need to plan “run times” per se, but I do need to remember this when vacations come around. If we go more than a day without leaving the house, my son starts to morph into another, very alarming person.
- Some tasks need to be done alone.
My son wants everything to be a group activity. The other day he asked me if we could brush our teeth as a team! We needed to slowly acclimate him to do things on his own. While it’s true that much of society values group work and cooperation, things like tooth brushing and novel reading still function as solitary activities.
- He has to learn healthy communication.
In order to maintain relationships, my son tends to give into requests when he’d rather say no, or passive-aggressively get the other person to change their minds. Yesterday, I asked him a question. He said yes but his body language screamed the opposite. I stopped and insisted that he tell me his thoughts using words rather than his behavior. My hope is that when he needs to communicate with colleagues or life partners, he will be able to approach them in a straightforward manner.
- Don’t make assumptions
It’s easy to assume that the kid who loves people will enjoy them all the time. But it’s important to leave room for things like shyness, tiredness, or just not really clicking with another person. It’s okay to not like everyone all the time!
Every kid is different. Certainly, every extrovert won’t be the same. But, hopefully, a few of these tips will help you smooth the path a bit for your socially energetic child!