For introverted parents who appreciate quiet and reflection, having an extroverted child who talks a lot and craves personal interaction can be exhausting. However, by understanding certain extrovert characteristics, you can make parenting decisions that foster both of your personalities and enhance your relationship.
Take a Time Out
It is an introvert’s natural tendency to process through a reflect-discuss-reflect process. But extroverts are the opposite. They prefer discuss-reflect-discuss. Therefore, when you try to punish your extrovert with a time out strategy, they are not actually able to process what they have done wrong. Before sending your child to his room, or sitting him in a time out chair, try role-playing or discussing with him first about what he has done wrong. Then, your child will be able to think over his actions and process it again with you when the quiet break is over.
Spend Extra Time
Extroverts crave interaction. Keep this in mind when spending quality time with your chatty child. Allow her to talk and consider activities that are not built on silence. For example, extroverts might prefer ice cream and a walk in the park over a dark and quiet movie theater. Besides, you know if you take that extrovert to the movies, when it’s done, they’re going to want to discuss it all over again.
After school, give your extrovert a chance to process the day. Encourage conversation over a snack before diving into homework.
…Speaking of Homework
Because extroverts are action-oriented, another quiet hour of independent work can be difficult. Instead, have your student tell you what he needs to do. Talk through any written responses that may need completion. Then your child will be better able to focus and finish his work independently.
Layer Your (and Their!) Listening
It can be tempting to tune out the child who won’t stop talking–especially when they seem to be spouting off random facts or telling stories that appeal only to them. But you can use this chatter to teach a valuable social skill in listening. Demonstrate for you child how conversation is a give and take of listen and respond. Model this through your responses to their conversation, and then begin a new conversation in which you take the lead. Help your child listen, ask questions, and wait for responses.
Let Emotions Express
Extroverts process life externally. Though they are often categorized as dramatic, in reality, they are simply trying to understand their internal and external circumstances. Encourage emotional expression, but teach your little extrovert how to process appropriately. For example, yelling and door slamming are, of course, not how we end an argument. Remember your time out strategy–give them the chance to verbalize their frustration, and then allow them time to cool down before any further disciplinary action takes place.
Leave Them Alone…Sometimes
The ability to work independently and entertain oneself is an important life skill. Just because your extrovert demands it, they do not need to be entertained by you all of the time. Encourage alone time with puzzles, books, make believe, or educational games. You are teaching your child they cannot always depend on someone else to fill their time–and if you’re an introverted parent, you’re getting a much needed break.
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