Tips for Managing Your Extroverted Child
Dimensions of Extroversion
Understanding how to raise an extroverted child is a high-energy and profoundly social experience. These children want to interact and socialize with lots of people and engage with the environment around them. Their consistent exuberance is occasionally overwhelming to parents, but also a great source of joy.
Extraversion is a personality dimension popularized by Carl Jung and includes introversion and ambiversion. There are many different theories about personality, but many models agree on the dimension of extraversion. We can enhance the well-being of our children, by using insight gained from dimensional models that represent existing in a four-dimensional world.
Introvert vs. Extrovert
Scientific Models of Wellness and Personality
Raising an extroverted child can be quite perplexing for even extroverted parents. When a parent is introverted or displays one of the other personality types, it can feel even more challenging. Not to mention that some people are a blend of personality types.
Human understanding is at a level where we can use science and technology to learn more about ourselves, our children, and each other. To understand how parents can raise well-behaved, healthier, and happier extroverted children let's consider the following psychological models.
The Five-Factor Model of personality:
- Extraversion and introversion
- Polar stability or neuroticism
- Openness to experience
As you plan for the well-being of your offspring, consider not only which personality traits they seem to favor, but also your own position within the domain of personality. This will help you connect with your extroverted child in a way that promotes deeper understanding.
Ph.D. Carol Ryff, director of The Institute on Aging, presents us with a similar type of psychological model. Ryff conceptualized '6 Dimensions of well-being', providing a framework to measure wellness. We can apply Ryff's dimensions of well-being to the specific dimension of extroversion to gain clarity on which skills to reinforce when parenting an extrovert.
Carol Ryff's Six Dimensions of Wellness:
- Personal growth
- Purpose in life
- Positive relationships with others
- Environmental mastery
Below we examine how to raise an extroverted child from the perspective of wellness. This can be used as a framework to build a consistent and positive parenting plan. Some scientific studies show evidence that extroverts have more activity in their mesolimbic dopamine system. That would suggest that extroverted children thrive the best when parents use systems of positive reinforcement.
Self-acceptance is the key to freeing the mind of undue anxiety and can ward off depression. Sometimes the extra energy felt by extroverts is converted into anxiety and worry. Extroverts love to be social, and under some circumstances gain a fear of social exclusion.
The National Institute of Health defines self-acceptance as "acceptance of all of his/her attributes, both positive and negative". Parents are able to help children set a framework for self-acceptance by highlighting their child's positive qualities, and developing good management strategies for the negative ones.
- Practice active listening with your child to help teach him/her how to interact more naturally in conversation. Avoid criticize them for talking too much. Instead, focus on increasing awareness of their role as an active listener.
- Emphasis the importance of stopping to think before you speak. Sometimes extroverts blurt something out before they review it in their heads.
- Develop mechanisms the child can use to cope with shame and embarrassment. It is impossible, and unwise, to eliminate pro-social shame. It in itself is a mechanism. Instead, parents must help children learn how to move through shame and embarrassment, and come out on the other side a better person for the experience.
- Direct your child to spend their alone-time productively. Some extroverts become bored and lonely easily. Instead of letting them dwell on the negative feelings associated with being alone, teach them how to focus on something more positive.
- Extrovert children ask for a lot of attention. To avoid instilling a fear of rejection, don't act annoyed. Instead, show interest up to a reasonable point. Then, redirect their energy into useful tasks.
Using the techniques above, parents have the ability to help shape the way their child thinks about him or herself. Nobody is perfect, and that's OK. Show your children that they can become the best them they can be, even without perfection.
2. Personal Growth
Personal growth is the dimension of wellness that is generated by continuously gaining knowledge. Extroverted children often gain a great deal of knowledge from their constant social interactions. That's a good thing, but as parents, it's important to reinforce gaining knowledge from other sources.
Extroverts report getting bored easily, and others may judge them as having a short attention span. Allow your child to be the social butterfly they are, but start teaching them the value of learning from non-interactive sources at an early age.
- Practice self-awareness exercises with your extroverted child. When a person is aware of their boundaries in relation to the world around them, they can set appropriate goals for self-improvement.
- Give your child the tools they need to develop a reasonably sized emotional vocabulary. When children learn how to express themselves, they learn how to keep their emotions from preventing flexible thinking.
- Practice planning skills to reinforce structure. Extroverts sometimes choose thrill and excitement over structured activities. Although there is knowledge gained, help your child balance their social life with school, structured activities, and scheduled life.
- Build an appreciation for reading while they are young. As babies, provide story books. Read to them often, and keep a ready supply of children's books around the house. If the child is very resistant try providing them with appropriate comic books to jump-start the process.
- Create learning opportunities for your child. Teach your child to recognize those opportunities, and encourage them to explore beyond their current knowledge level.
3. Purpose in Life
Thanks to their social adaptability, extroverts tend to excel in their careers. They also find deep meaning in their fruitful social relationships. Their high energy state allows them to find their own direction in their lives. As it should be; only the individual can fully understand one's purpose in life.
Parents can reinforce this dimension of wellness by helping expose extroverts to as many different types of environments and situations as possible. On the flip side, finding a purpose in life requires introspection, a less social activity. Parents may need to spend extra time helping their extroverted child understand introspection.
- Watch for natural talents, and encourage activities which build them. Also, explore related activities, so they might hone their skills. This builds a foundation for their journey to finding life purpose.
- Emphasize values and goals in degrees of importance. Help your extroverted child learn to define what is most important to them, and how to take actions which nurture the idea. It may take them a long time to understand their purpose in life, but this skill teaches them how to look for meaning in their lives.
- Set the stage by asking your child about their goals. Help your child imagine a bright future. A child who gets in the habit of setting goals will gain the insight they will need later in life.
- Acquaint your child with the ideas of potential, possibility, and probability. Thinking along these terms helps develop perceptions that create a more enjoyable reality. One filled with meaning.
- Let them know they don't have to have their purpose in life figured out just because they turn 18. In some cases, they might have their career picked, in others not, but either way, the meaning of life is a continual process, and that's OK.
4. Positive Relationships With Others
It's in their nature for extroverts to attempt to maintain positive relationships with others. In most cases, it will be easy. However, this is not always the case with extroverts. Due to the high volume of social relationships they maintain, they are likely to experience instances of good relationships and bad ones.
Sometimes a highly social extrovert will put up with a bad relationship, just to maintain the company of others. This is where parents can lend a helping hand. Teach your children to recognize their own self-worth. If you are working on self-acceptance with, you are already teaching them about how valuable they are.
- Teach your child to respect the thoughts, feelings, and beliefs of others. Extroverts are assertive, which makes them great leaders. However, later in life people might interpret this as aggression or become offended by the directness of the extrovert. When the child displays assertion, make sure they aren't being a bully.
- Show your children the importance of building quality relationships, instead of the number of relationships. When children hit road bumps with their friends, encourage age-appropriate displays of emotion, and help them work through the rough patches to build strong and fulfilling relationships.
- Role model and teach children that disagreements don't equal personal attacks. Help your extrovert child understand that others do not have to agree with him/her to maintain social bonds.
- Show your extroverted child the balance between caring for the self, and caring for others. Sometimes extroverts become people pleasers out of fear of loneliness. Give them skills to avoid this by helping them identify equalities of relationships.
- Teach extroverted children when enough is enough. Sometimes introverts, and other personality types feel overwhelmed by the constant interaction some extroverts seem to need. Remind extroverts to recognize, and respect, when another person needs space and quiet time.
5. Environmental Mastery
According to Ryff's model of dimensional wellness, environmental mastery is the ability to maintain daily affairs, balance a complexity of external activities, and choose the suitable context for values and meeting needs. In other words, it means to be able to participate in reality with the ability to improve surroundings.
Extroverts are known to make spontaneous decisions. While this is sometimes a positive trait, it also makes it difficult to create a balance between different activities. Some extroverts find it difficult function in highly structured environments which lack social components. As your child grows, monitor their ability to complete scheduled tasks, put homework before their social life, and to identify their responsibilities.
- Create a family calendar with your child. Mark holidays, birthdays, and important events. You may even want to include a chore chart with clear deadlines. An example of positive reinforcement would be to let a child place a sticker on the calendar when they complete chores on time.
- Be a stickler when it comes to homework. Teaching kids to meet the deadlines set by their teacher helps them learn to maintain daily affairs. Help them plan time for school work, friend, and their responsibilities. Learning to prioritize will help them learn to juggle work and home life when they grow up.
- Be conscientious about teaching life skills to children, especially teens. Not only do they need to learn how to do laundry, cook meals, and clean up after themselves, they must learn to budget, pay bills, and save money. These are just a few examples of some of the things kids need to learn for adulthood.
- Emphasize the importance of self-reliance. Extroverts tend to maintain many social relationships. Under some circumstances, interdependence slips into co-dependencies. You can help your child learn to master their environment by teaching them to problem-solve situations and accept responsibilities.
Autonomy describes a person who is self-sufficient, has a well developed sense of reasoning, and is self-directed. This dimension of wellness is sometimes difficult for extroverts. They often assume leadership roles, do well in their career, and are work well in groups. The problem can be that when extroverts lack others to work with, they become more low energy.
For this reason some extroverts perform better with collective autonomy, than individual autonomy. Many extroverts like to bounce ideas of multiple people before making a decision. Encourage cognitive and behavioral skill that help extroverts understand how to make their own choices and resist peer-pressure.
- Focus on developing the part of the brain which deals with complex processes, such as reasoning, logic, and attention span. Play memory games, do logic puzzles and present your extroverted child with real-life situations where they can flex their reasoning skills.
- Help your child be more self-directed. Although social interaction can recharge an extrovert, they need to learn how to make decisions on their own. Even though they work well in groups, they need to learn how to engage without a social element. If you notice indecision during solitary tasks, encourage more decisive decision making.
- Create a family environment where both the children and the adults are active in choosing to do the right thing. This means providing a framework for ethics and values. Make these things you talk about with your kids, and role model them well.
- Work on problem-solving. Mastering individuality means being able to function in the absence of management. This helps children grown into adults who experience the quality of comprehension and develop relationships between concepts. This will help them make responsible, independent decisions.
- Teach your child to see the world from others perspectives. Some talkative extroverts forget to participate in active listening. This occasionally makes it difficult for them to adapt to new perspectives. Part of autonomy is having a perception of individuality. Teaching them to look through others perceptions gives them a comparative basis, and helps them comprehend the boundaries of individuality.
Focusing Time and Energy
Raising extroverted children is a grand learning experience for parents. Enthusiastic and energetic, extroverts benefit from parents who help them turn weaknesses into strengths, and strengths are to actualization. With a gained understanding of the relationship between personality and well-being, parents know where to focus time and energy.
You may even try applying the six dimensions of well-being to your own personality type, and that of family members, to see where aspects of wellbeing can help the most and which overlap with other family members. This can help build stable family dynamics.
- Ryff, C. (01 Feb 2012). Images of Ideal Personal Development. Cambridge, United Kingdom. Cambridge University Press.
- Kowalczyk, Devin. "Understanding the Time Dimension in Research". Study. Chapter 7 Lesson 7. Retrieved from https://study.com/academy/lesson/understanding-the-time-dimension-in-research.html
- Big Five Personality Traits. (3 October 2018). In Wikipedia. Retrieved 3 October 2018. from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Five_personality_traits
- Ryff. C.D. (2014). Psychological Well-Being Revisited: Advances in Science and Practice. Psychother Psychosom. Published online 2013 Nov 19. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4241300/ . doi: 10.1159/000353263
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© 2018 Beth Collins