How to Raise Extroverted Kids
Introverted moms: are you spotting some worrying extroverted tendencies in your children? Do they enjoy longer hours at the park babbling with other toddlers, or are they disruptive in class because they just have so much to say? Maybe they want to participate in every single after-school activity, from theater, to baseball, to ballet, to painting.
Do you reminisce back on the times when your only worries were feeding them right and whether or not they were safe in the old carseat you used for earlier siblings? As an introvert yourself, how can you expect to keep up with all of it while also keeping up with your own internal energy levels?
On the flip side: extroverted moms, are you kids spending most of their time in their room? Maybe reading a book outside, rather than running through the sprinklers on a hot day with the other neighborhood kids? Do they remain quiet unless addressed or even have a hard time speaking out loud to the teacher in class?
If you find yourself at a loss, the diagnosis might be simple: Your kid isn’t the same as what you are.
Spotting The Differences
Extroverted moms might find themselves urging their introverted children to get out there more, to spend more time with their friends and classmates, while introverted moms just want a midday nap to recharge. On the way to the weekly football game, an introverted mom is clutching the steering wheel, mentally reminding herself over and over again that there are benefits to having kids in sports other than just keeping the kid’s energetic little body and developing organs healthy and strong — and meanwhile, the extroverted mom is just looking forward to chatting it up with everyone else in the bleachers.
The big question, then: How are moms supposed to cope?
The answer is as simple as you probably first thought: It’s not about you.
Finding a Middle Ground
Sure, sometimes the kiddos might need to miss out on a particular soccer practice because you, as their mother and hero, are just too tired to get behind the wheel of a car.
Sometimes, your timid son might have to hold your hand as he presents show-and-tell to the class, shaking and nervous the entire time. But, when your shy child sees that you support them and will always cheer them on when doing something scary, the scary event is more likely to become a normal thing that’s suddenly not so scary after all.
If you are a fashion and home-decor guru, you might be disappointed when your daughter would prefer something simple over bright and exciting patterns on her bedroom walls. On the flip side, if you’re more of a t-shirt and jeans kind of mom, you might feel a little in over your head when your son asks for a leather jacket and racecar-red hair for picture day. Pictures that will make you then, from that day forward, debate whether the knot in your stomach upon seeing them is because you’re embarrassed, or because you’re proud of him for embracing his own tastes.
The most important source of validation for a child is the way their parents react to them and their choices. If an introverted mom constantly talks badly about after-school activities that the child thoroughly enjoys, the child might begin to feel resentful toward the activities, or even to themselves for wanting to participate so badly.
If an extroverted mom forces their introverted child to participate more in activities that makes them uncomfortable, they may just climb even further into their protective shell in an effort to better hide away.
Yes, extroverts: Compel your kids to take risks! Urge them to try new things that might make them nervous! Introverts: Strive to add new mom-friends from the park to your roster, to ease the pain of long days and unending hours of activity — not to mention, gathering prospective drivers for the neighborhood carpool you’re planning. Sometimes, you might have to say no to your child’s pleas for your own sake — but being a mom is all about sacrifices, isn’t it?
The most important thing to take away, is this: Be supportive of your children, while protecting and parenting them all the same. Allow them to be themselves, and to embrace the way they are. One year they might be rambunctious and sociable, and the next they might be quiet and withdrawn, but all in all, just continue to love them either way. Whether or not you agree with their “lifestyle,” a mom is a child’s number one source of validation, even if the mom would rather eat lunch in the park than at an arcade. So buckle up, bring something to read, and buy your kid a cupful of tokens — they’ll be sure to thank you later.