A Wife Loved Like The Church

How to Raise a Child Who is an Introverted Extrovert

Posted on: January 4, 2011

Top Ten {Tuesday} It’s hard to explain to people that I’m actually pretty introverted. I think they are thrown by my willingness to talk, be loud, enjoying large cities/crowds and sharing my thought/opinions. Seems very extroverted, if you ask. But given the choice to spend a night alone or out entertaining, I’m likely to want to be alone. A night of hosting or going out can leave me drained if I’m not very careful. I love people, but I love being alone. A lot.

As Julia has gotten older and her personality/character has really grown, I see a lot of me in her. She loves crowds, but from a distance. She loves new situations, but stays quite until she’s comfortable. She loves being around other kids, but can sit off and play alone, refusing to interact. She loves talking/being silly, but can clam up on a moment’s notice. All very similar reactions to how I was as a child.

Now that we have moved away from her friends {who she’s know since she was born} and she’s actually have to make friends, I’m working on bringing out her extroverted side. Here are a few things Jon and I’ve been doing to help her grow:

1. Talking it through {before} – When we know we are taking Julia into a new situation, we talk her through it. Before we ever get to our destination, we explain {to our best ability} what she can expect. New kids. New part of the city. Certain rules {at someone’s house}. We try to prepare her to know what she’s getting into, so it’s less “new”.

2. Talking it through {after} – Once we’ve gone somewhere {especially where there are other kids}, we ask Julia who she meet, if she talked with them and what she/they did. We focus on praising her for her efforts and encouraging her to continue learning about the new kids she meets.

3. Talking to others – Julia constantly wants to know “What’s her/his name?” Every time she sees a child close to her age, she wants to know about them. For a while {when we were in Iowa} I was giving her the brush off {awful, I know}. But now, I’m realizing it’s one more way she’ll meet new kids. When we’re at the store and Julia spots a new kid, if she asks about them, I tell her I will help introduce them. Sometimes she says yes {so I go over and start the introductions} and sometimes she says no {at which point I remind her that introducing herself is a way to make new friends}.

4. Playgroups/Play settings – Getting Julia involved in playgroups is vital to opening her up. We haven’t had a ton of opportunity to do this since moving {with the holidays a lot of people have been gone}. But yesterday, and later this week, we have several events planned in order to introduce {or re-introduce} Julia to other kids. Continually seeing the same people helps her break out of her shell and feel comfortable.

5. Cutting her slack – It can get a little frustrating when Julia asks to play with kids she sees, but then backs out when I help her through the introductions. But I have to remember she feel vulnerable {I know I did as a kid!} and that she just needs more time and praise for her small efforts.

6. Loving her – I’m pretty amazed at how comfortable Julia feels at our new church. The first few times we dropped her off at Sunday School, she was a bit upset. But now, she’s loving it. And a lot of it has to do with us loving her. Showing her that we’re leaving, but are coming back. Knowing she’s secure in our love seems to help her confidence even when we aren’t around.

7. Getting active – It seems that when Julia is active, she forgets that she’s introverted and her extrovert can shine through. Because of that, we’re enrolling her in soccer and gymnastics. She’s tried both of them out, really enjoys it {plus she burns a ton off energy, so I enjoy it!} and seems to be more outgoing while she’s playing.

8. Talking about our friends in Iowa – All of Julia’s friends in Iowa hold a special place in her {and our} heart. No one she ever meets will be the same as they were. So we want her to remember them and think about the special things she did with them. It helps lead into what she can do with the new kids she meets.

9. Encouraging friendship with Hannah – One of the best things about the girls being close in age, is that they have a real friendship between them. We encourage the girls to play together, just like they would a friend.

10. Being a friend – I don’t think my role as a mom is to be a friend all the time. It crosses the authority boundary a bit too much for me. However, I can still be a friend who plays house, sings songs and dances. We’ve been doing those things a lot recently. And I’ve really enjoyed them {although Ring Around the Rosy makes me so much dizzier now than as a child!}.

We’re still working through all these different steps and it seems to be working well. I’m hoping as the holidays end and we’re more into our routine, Julia will flourish and meet new friends.

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10 Responses to "How to Raise a Child Who is an Introverted Extrovert"

Sounds hard but really good (might be good for me to work on a few with Naomi)! We miss you all too!

Interesting I was listening to Stephen Covey talk about building relationships today. He calls the process farming. Lots of work, lots of time, lots of bountiful results. Well done Sis. Give them all my love!

I am just like you–love people. love talking. But given the choice I will choose a quiet evening at home over a party (or even just going out) EVERY time. 🙂

I like your list of encouragements for your daughter. Very cool.

A lot of good tips here! Navigating friendships is an important skill to cultivate. It can be challenging for grown ups too, especially after a move.

Oh my goodness, this is incredible. I LOVE that you are so intentional about your parenting! So many good tips. I especially love the idea of preparing a child for what is coming (#1). Thanks for sharing!

This list is so helpful! I love the ways your helping Julia navigate friendships, a fantastic necessary skill not often taught. Like Julia said above even adults have trouble with it. What a blessing to have a church where there is community after a move. I know it sure made our transition to Seattle much more smooth.

Thanks for the encouragement ladies! I took Julia to her first gymnastics class and she did really well. I’m hoping as she goes more she’ll start opening up and making friends.

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Sarah Windham, Sarah Windham. Sarah Windham said: How to help your preschooler make friends: http://bit.ly/dHzkaD #toptentues #fb […]

You all are doing such an awesome job!

Nice article, our daughter gave us an article about how to handle your introvert, awhile back. I wish I had known this stuff when she was little. I really enjoyed reading your blog!

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