Extraverts are accepted by society because they are the norm. It’s easy to be with people who are outgoing, friendly and talkative. But it takes effort to be with someone who must get away from us in order to recharge her batteries; someone who stands in a doorway watching for twenty minutes before entering a room full of people; and someone who can’t tell us what’s on his mind until he’s mulled it over for days. In Raising Your Spirited Child, May Sheedy Kurcinka provides numerous tests to help you understand your child’s temperament. Discovering your child’s energy source is only one facet, but it can be an important one. Here’s a brief version of one test.
How to Tell and What to Do
If your child is an extravert, she probably:
_ _ Is quite gregarious and outgoing
_ _ enjoys being around people
_ _ tells you about her experiences immediately
_ _ talks about what she’s thinking
_ _ initiates conversations with other people
_ _ hates being sent to her room alone
_ _ can’t imagine why you’d want to be alone
_ _ tells you what she’s thinking and feeling
_ _ needs lot of approval
If you child is an introvert he probably:
_ _ watches before joining an activity
_ _ enjoys doing things by himself or with a few people
_ _ is grouchy when around people too long
_ _ find being with strangers draining
_ _ waits days or weeks to discuss events
_ _ needs a great deal of personal space
_ _ likes being sent to his room alone
_ _ finds it difficult to share feelings
_ _ finds guests in your home "invasive"
_ _ talks to family members but not strangers
Here are some ways to help your child find her best energy source. Introverts need: Time alone; help your child pace herself so she can withdraw when overwhelmed. Physical space; teach him how to say, "Move over, please," so he can keep a comfortable distance. Time for reflecting; let him tell you about events and thoughts when he is ready. Uninterrupted work time; introverts hate interruptions and find it hard to stop what they’re doing. Provide long transitions.
Extraverts need: Time with people; friends, family and a good children’s program can fill this need. Feedback; give lots of hugs, verbal encouragement and reinforce her good behavior. People to help them think; listen and respond when she shares her ideas.
Eleanor Reynolds is the editor of The Best of the Problem-Solver: Articles for Parents and Teachers and the author of Guiding Young Children: A Problem-Solving Approach. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.