Loving the Extroverted Child

loving the extroverted child title

Written by guest contributor Jessica Smartt of Smarttereachday.com

Do you have any extroverts in your family?

Ohhhh, we do. Here are some of my mom-of-an-extrovert confessions:

  • I have to drag my children away from extended conversations with the Fed-Ex man, random people walking their dogs, and anyone in a public place who makes eye contact for more than eight seconds.
  • More than once I’ve definitely hovered outside the bedroom door, trying to capture on video my son’s hilarious conversations to himself while “falling asleep.”
  • Several times a day, I’m saying “uh-huh,” over and over, with no idea what I’m agreeing to.
  • I’ve considered earplugs as a sanity-saving measure.
  • If we are trapped inside all day and see no visitors…wow. It is rough.

I’m tongue-in-cheek, here because, honestly, I feel like I have the best kids ever.

extroverted child

Although they are both friendly and fun, our firstborn, Sam, seems particularly…people-oriented. Since Day 1, he’s kept us thoroughly entertained and talked to anyone who will listen.

I often grapple with how to love well this bubbly, energetic, dramatic child. Here are a few issues I struggle with:

  • Do I play with him all day long? I’ve said it before – I don’t want to leave the little years with regret. What’s the right amount of attention to give him?
  • Should I teach him to be quiet, to listen better? How does one do that, exactly?
  • Is it okay if he’s so excited he’s interrupting people, even grown-ups?
  • How do I allow child #2 to also thrive, when sometimes it seems he’s in the background of a wildly dramatic circus act and has little chance to speak for himself? {Here are my thoughts about raising an introverted child.}

I’m only four years into this parenting gig, so I’m no expert.

parenting an extroverted child

But I have been thinking about this issue of raising an extrovert, and here are a few things I’m working on.

  • Show extroverts TRUTH by helping them converse well. My job is to bridge the gap to truth for Sam. Here is the truth – Not everyone thinks Sam is the most hilarious person in the whole world. (Gasp!) Not every person can pay attention to a twenty-two minute-long story about a bear. Every once in a while, it is okay to reflect to Sam the attention span that the average person would have for his stories. Otherwise, you raise a child that has an inordinately skewed perspective of him/herself. Spoiled, in other words.
  • Show extroverts GRACE by letting them talk. My love language is quality time. Wouldn’t it be cruel if my husband said, “Well, you need to learn that you can’t always get what you want. So tonight we’re not going to spend any time together.” That would be awful! In the same way, I don’t want to be constantly “teaching Sam lessons” about being quiet. Every day, I can love him by meeting his needs. One thing that helps me do this is to have dedicated “Sam time.” When he wakes up from his nap and #2 is still sleeping, I try spend twenty minutes with Sam, giving him unfocused attention. It has become a special time for both of us.

loving the extroverted child

  • Even though a child might be extroverted, he still needs practice in various social settings.  I’m planning to homeschool. So I’m all the more determined to ensure that my children are comfortable, respectful, and confident in all kinds of settings. It might be easy assume that my chatty child needs no help with social skills. That’s not true. I’m trying to take every opportunity we’re offered to do something different – to play with a new friend, to be in a class, to be the leader, to be the follower, to speak with the elderly, to play on a sports team, take music lessons, etc. etc.
  • Where you lack strength and patience, ask the Lord for help. Never has anything in my life taken me to the end of myself like parenting. I thought I was a good person, until I became a parent. I thought I had patience, until I became a parent. Life sort of worked for me, until I became a parent.

The good news, for me, has been that when I reach the end of my strength, His is right there. Silly as it sounds, this means that when I feel exhausted and inadequate to respond to my child who has been talking all day long, He gives me new strength.

Are you raising any extroverts? What have you learned from parenting them?

 

 bio picJessica Smartt is a former middle-school teacher who lives in beautiful North Carolina. You can find her blogging at www.smarttereachday.com where she enjoys poking fun at the everyday challenges of motherhood, sharing delicious allergy-free recipes, and rejoicing that God still loves her no matter what phobia she has recently developed. She is blessed beyond belief with two Smartt little boys and a husband who can fix anything.

Comments

  1. Sarah B says:

    YES! My 4-yr-old is an extrovert (and I’m NOT!). When we go ANYWHERE, she will strike up a conversation … with anyone! I’ve also done the “uh-huh” thing with no idea what she’s saying. Luckily, at this point, I think we’ve both worked out a most-of-the-time balance where she gets her interactions met and I get my quiet time when she plays by herself.

  2. Ha, Sarah! That sure sounds like us! It’s an entertaining life for sure! ;)

  3. After spending time with your kids this weekend, I don’t think you need to worry about #2 (I know he does have a name) being shut out of anything. That kid has plenty of his own personality.

  4. Yes, I have a 3 1/2 year old extrovert! I used to always enjoy listening to his chattering (they say such cute, funny things!), but on a long car trip last summer I hit my limit and was just wishing he would fall asleep and stop talking and asking questions! The hardest part in our day-to-day life at home is that he constantly wants my attention. He doesn’t play for very long by himself before he is bugging me again so that makes it hard to get anything done around the house. And it makes it very tempting to stick him in front of the TV because that does work to keep him occupied. But I am trying not to resort to that too much. It does seem like if I give him one-on-one attention and play with him for a while in the morning, he will play by himself better after that. However that can be more complicated now that he has a 7 month old baby brother. It will be interesting to see how different their personalities are. I hope and pray that they play well together eventually so I don’t always have to be the playmate! And that baby brother won’t be overshadowed by big brother!

    Sorry to write so much, but I also totally relate to when you say “Never has anything in my life taken me to the end of myself like parenting.” This is so true! I realize more and more just how much I need to depend on God for patience and peace and everything! I cannot do it on my own strength! But for all the difficulties parenting brings, it has brought even more joy. And because kids grow and change so fast, we have to try to savor every moment! This is what I am learning.

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