I am sure your week has been awesome so here’s the topic for the day: Two steps to understanding your kids a little better.
I’m a mom of two boys, 8 and 9 years old. They are only 14 months apart in age and they have two completely different personalities. Not to mention what worked for the older at a certain age doesn’t usually work for the younger when he reaches that age. They keep my husband and I very busy.
Parenting is more involved than anyone of us probably ever imagined it would be but here are two small steps that I promise, if minded, will bring a bit more ease to the task.
Step one. Identify your major temperament. Extrovert or Introvert? Here’s a simple way to know without a shadow of a doubt where you fall on this continuum.
After a tough work day which scenario is more appealing? A lively discussion with a group of other lively folks or a few quiet moments to stop the world and process and reflect on your day.
If the lively discussion is your choice then you, my friend, are an Extrovert. If the quiet contemplation is the answer then you are an Introvert.
Knowing your temperament is very important to knowing how you fit into and work with your other family members.
If you are an Extrovert it doesn’t mean that you’re flaky or insincere. It just means that people recharge your batteries. You need the stimulation of people, interacting and tantalizing conversation to reboot your drained batteries. You engage with yourself through an outward vantage point that can be very dynamic and fast paced. If you are an Introvert it doesn’t mean that you hate people or aren’t an engaging people-person. It just means that people drain your batteries and you need to recharge in a quiet place alone. Your batteries are filled from introspection and it is from your colorful and, many times, complex inner world that you interface with the outer world.
Step 2. Identify your child’s temperament.
The exact same rules apply to kids. Is your kid still revving to go after a long day out and about? Have they never met another kid they didn’t want to play with? Are you constantly hearing “I’m bored!” You’ve got an Extravert on your hands. He or she is recharged by stimulating interaction. On the other hand, is your cherub ready to call it quits after a short while at a social gathering. Do they play with well known friends and then wander off to play alone for a while? Is your child an avid reader? Do they zone out or draw blanks at peculiar moments? This child is an Introvert. He or she is recharged by quiet introspection.
(Important side note: Introvert Extrovert temperament is a continuum Everyone varies on their degree. My oldest is around an 7 on the Extrovert continuum while my youngest is around a 9 on the Introvert continuum.)
Extroversion and parenting.
Extroverts need stimulation. A tired, run down extrovert is an underwhelmed, bored extrovert. If you want to see them perk right up introduce a new exciting interaction. As a parent: Pay attention to your energy levels. Just cause the kids have been running a muck all day doesn’t mean you’ve been stimulated. When you start to feel tired take a break to call a friend or schedule an outing that allows you to interact with others. Keep your batteries charged by taking care of your need for interaction.
Introversion and parenting.
Introvert parents should keep an eye on their energy levels also. Just because your kids have been at school all day and your work day was pretty quiet doesn’t mean the hectic drive hope won’t zap your energy levels. If your shutting down schedule a 20 minute “Siesta” in 15 minutes. That means that 15 minutes from now your taking a 20 minute break. Shutting down for an Introvert can look like getting quiet almost immediately, avoiding eye contact with others or the intense urge to spend more time than necessary in the bathroom :). Take some quiet time to recharge. Your family will thank you.
For the kiddos:
Extravert children need stimulation! Plan surprises, small or large doesn’t matter just knock their socks off with an out-of-nowhere surprise that involves movement like an outing, play date, family game or backyard treasure hunt. Also, try to keep their calendars filled and visible. Extroverts need to know that something excited is planned for a later date. Lastly keep an eye on your little firecracker to see if they need to cool their jets every now and then. Overly excited Extravert children can be a handful at bed time if they have been allowed to wind up all day long.
To the Introverted parents of an Extraverted child. Here’s my biggest tip: Employ your Extraverted friend/in law/spouse/older child to assist you when you need a “Siesta”. They’ll be thrilled (and you’ll be wondering how) but at least you’ll be wondering in the solitude of your quiet thoughts for 20 minutes.
Introverted children need built in breaks to reboot. Plan a play date with a well known friend and plan a few activities that are independent play activities like moulding clay, a craft or individual puzzles. Give your Introverted child a special quiet place to call their own. My youngest has a chair under his loft bed and a tub of books under his side table with a curtain for solitude. The oldest knows to let him be if he’s tucked away in there. Also, prep your Introverted child for new stimulation. Let them know that your loud, overbearing Great Aunt is visiting on Sunday. ( figure out how to say it nicer than that but you get the picture!) Also, if they are talking to you or you ask them a question and they glaze over and draw a blank, let it go. They aren’t doing it purposefully. Their mind simply takes a little longer to retrieve information so often times well known information will jump right out of their heads. Be a safe place for them and don’t make a big deal of it. They will outgrow it. Now is the time to help them learn to manage this peculiar Introverted trait. Try saying “Honey, it’s anything wrong with taking some time to think. If you want to tell me later, I’m here.”
Extraverted parent of an Introverted child: I’m praying for you :). It can be tough for this combo simply because we can expect children to be balls of undying energy looking for fun all the time! But your Introverted child might confound you with their “on again off again” energy levels. Allow your kid to step away when they need it and help them to realize when they need to take a break. Also, employ your quiet Introverted relative to assist when your need for speed is wigging out your Introverted child.
Temperaments matter in families and having a clear idea of your families temperament make-up can prove to have satisfying results.
Our family has Extraverted and Introverted parents and Extraverted and Introverted children. 🙂 Its an exciting and sometimes complicated blend but we are learning daily how to give each other the best and how to celebrate each other’s differences. Here are some photos that show our temperaments at work. LOL!!