This is the first of a 4-part look at your child’s personality.
Personality is a complicated matter. The better you understand your child’s, however, the better you’ll be able to understand how he sees the world, what’s most important to him, and how to respond to him. There are four basic components to personality; the first is whether your child is an introvert or an extrovert.
When you think of introverts and extroverts, you probably think of whether or not someone is outgoing and at ease around lots of people. This trait goes beyond being talkative or shy, however, and actually stems from where people get their energy. An extroverted child not only enjoys being around other children, but will often get a second wind when at playdates, even if it’s almost naptime or bedtime.
Here are some ways to determine whether your child is an extrovert (E) or introvert (I):
When your child spends time around lots of people, does he come away energized (E) or drained and in need of down time (I)?
Does your child react immediately to new information (E) or need to let it sink in for a while before responding (I)?
Does your child enjoy long periods of playing alone (I)?
Does your child tend to think out loud (E)?
If your child is an extrovert:
- Create as social an environment as possible. It’s important for this child to have lots of friends, trips to the park and activity.
- It may be difficult for this child to play by herself for an extended period. If she doesn’t have siblings, she may want a lot of attention from you; she’s not trying to be needy and disruptive, she just likes company.
- Recognize (especially if you’re more of an I) that E’s actually process information by talking about it. To you this may sound like incessant chatter, but it’s part of your child’s thought process.
If your child is an introvert:
- He may not be intentionally ignoring you, but so focused on his inside world that he stops paying attention to the people and activities right around him.
- It’s especially important not to interrupt him. I’s spend time formulating their thoughts, and need to express these thoughts in their entirety. It’s harder for an I to get back on track than for an E, after an interruption.
- Recognize his need for down time and solitary endeavors; if you’re an E, you may see your I child as anti-social, and try to address this “problem” by creating more social situations, but this is not what he needs, and will probably be frustrating for both of you.
Remember that there are no “right” or “wrong” personality types, nor can you change anyone’s type. We get in trouble as parents when we don’t recognize this, and try to make our children into who we’d like them to be rather than who they are.
Next up: Does your child see the forest or the trees?
Karen Harvey, CEC, is a life coach and mother of two who specializes in working with moms. Visit her website at www.clarityandbalance.com.