Settle down! Why can’t you just sit still?
Relax! You’re so bossy!
Ever found yourself getting frustrated with your child because they were too noisy, fidgety, or overbearing? Ever received less than friendly looks or comments about your child’s volume or movement? Ever felt overwhelmed by your child’s constant chatter or overloaded by their endless action? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are probably raising an extrovert, a dynamic individual energized by activity and conversation.
Parenting an extrovert is a grand adventure that requires a great deal of energy and an understanding of their unique strengths and needs. While our little extroverts can sometimes embarrass us by bringing in unwanted attention, taking charge, interrupting others, acting silly or invading the personal space of others, they are the ones whose optimism, passion, and vitality will bless the world if we don’t shame them for their dynamic qualities.
According the DISC model of human behavior only14-30% of the population (data provided by The Institute for Motivational Living) qualifies as an extrovert, a natural born leader, which makes sense if you consider that we need more Indians than chiefs. Extroverts are the doers and talkers of our world who thrive on attention, appreciation and achievement. They inspire us, encourage us, and motivate us toward our goals. They are outgoing, assertive, hopeful and inspiring. Extroverted children need their parents to recognize that their lively characteristics aren’t meant to be muffled, slowed or sedated but instead celebrated and channeled in God-honoring ways.
Here are a few tips for raising loving and confident extroverts:
- Listen to them. Extroverts do all their thinking out loud so by providing them with a listening ear, you can help them process their thoughts and emotions and understand their world. They talk fast; they talk loud (that is their inside voice); and they talk before they think, but talking is how they connect with people, share their hearts, and make themselves known. Get comfortable, grab a snack and enjoy their openness and honesty.
- Put them in charge of something. Extroverts need to lead, so give them something to be in control of. Let them plan a family party, organize the pantry, or be the captain of the laundry. If your child is allowed to have authority over an appropriate area of their life or the life of your family, they will be less likely to fight you for control. But to prevent pride from gaining a foothold, make sure that your extrovert knows that while they might get to be in “little” charge, you are in “big” charge and the ultimate authority in your family.
- Provide an active social life. Extroverts love people and need group activity to thrive so give them lots of access to people. Plan lots of playdates and outings where they can interact with other children. Sign them up for team sports and clubs, and say yes to party invitations. They love novelty so whenever possible introduce them to new things and new people.
- Let them move. Extroverts have tons of energy and are always in motion. I remember attempting to teach my extroverts “sit time” when they were three or four years old. The hope was that with a little training, my girls would be able to sit in church or while waiting at their sister’s activities and read or color. Oh please! This exercise is for introverted children who love to sit. This never worked with my girls and I usually found them under the bleachers eating dirty Skittles that had fallen on the floor. The answer here is to put your extroverts in the nursery or hire a babysitter when you need to sit or get out and take a walk or ride a bike with them, anything to burn off the restless energy.
- Praise them. Extroverts need your attention, your approval, and your appreciation. When you see them accomplishing a task or finishing a chore, recognize their efforts. When they get a good grade or make a good decision, tell them how proud they are of you. When they tell one of their funny stories, laugh at their jokes. Make sure they know that you see them, love them, and value them every chance you get. And remind them that God feels the same way too.
|I am able to do all things by the one who strengthens me. Philippians 4:14|
If you would like more information on how coaching can help you connect better with the extroverts in your life, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.