If your child is an extrovert, chances are you realized that early on. They're the ones who demand attention, never stop talking and are in their element in social situations. (You may also be used to comments from other people like, "Isn't she outgoing?" and "He's not shy, is he?")
"Extroverts by innate nature will demonstrate several behaviors and characteristics that are different than their introverted peer group," Christine Mann, certified professional coach and Myers-Briggs practitioner, tells SheKnows. "These kiddos are most likely very social and outgoing and enjoy being around activity and other children. Their strengths are communication, socializing in groups and working well with others at school, as they bring a lot of energy and enthusiasm to situations. They are most likely very talkative and don’t shy away from meeting new people as they get older — in fact, they often become terrific networkers and connectors of people."
Just like adults, every child has their own unique personality and probably displays both introvert and extrovert traits, depending on the circumstances. But a little insight into your child's unique personality goes a long way toward giving them what they need and helping them develop into well-rounded individuals.
Provide outlets for extroversion
An extroverted child needs plenty of socializing, so create lots of opportunities for your kid to be around other kids. Licensed child therapist Kimberly Tucker recommends giving them a healthy mix of structured and unstructured activities. "In an unstructured activity, your child will be the natural leader and will set the agenda of play for the group," she tells SheKnows. "In a structured activity, your child may have a hard time giving up that leadership to the coach or teacher who is trying to lead the activity. Your child might be the one that has a hard time staying quiet and following all of the instructions." But it's important that they realize that structured activity is a part of life too.
Mann recommends giving your extroverted child plenty of exercise — they need ample room to disperse their energy. Playgrounds provide the perfect place to combine exercise and fun with no restrictions.
Focus on social learning skills
According to family therapist Katie Ziskind, while extroverted children can be extremely friendly — your kid is likely to be the first to introduce themselves to new people or welcome the new student in class — they can lack social learning skills. "They can be very talkative or think a group activity is all about them," Ziskind tells SheKnows. "They may be too aggressive when another child really needs a break and some space. They may find poking or punching fun, but another child may not like this behavior. The extrovert may not understand this and may not even stop poking or pinching when asked to."
This means one of the roles of the parent of an extroverted child is helping them learn social skills about sharing and how their behaviors impact others. For example, if your extroverted child has pushed a friend to end or limit a friendship because they’ve been overwhelming them, you need to process this situation emotionally and help your child understand their role in the friendship dissolving. Ziskind suggests helping your extroverted child in group activities by identifying when your child is hogging all the attention in the group and saying something like, "Sharing is caring. Let someone else have a turn."
Acknowledge their strengths…
According to licensed clinical social worker Dr. Sal Raichbach, the best thing you can do for an extroverted child is to embrace their confident nature. Create opportunities for them to interact with others and compliment your extroverted child’s strengths. For instance, you might say something like, "You did a great job welcoming the new girl on the playground just now. I love the way you were so outgoing and friendly to her. Thanks for being a good friend."
As the parent of an extroverted child, you have to be ready to engage them in discussion or brainstorming at any time. "Respect and value their spontaneity and show appreciation for their thoughts and ideas," Raichbach tells SheKnows. "And when you talk to them, just say what you think."
… & champion differences
At the same time, encourage your extroverted child to be polite and fun to be around. "Sometimes, extroverted kids struggle to grasp why others aren't as outgoing and friendly as they are," says Raichbach. "They might even perceive their more introverted playmates as distant or unfriendly. It's up to you to help them understand and respect others’ need for alone time."
While your child might be drawn to fellow extroverts, Raichbach recommends encouraging interactions with others who are shy or more withdrawn — this teaches them an important lesson that others are different, and that's OK. "The goal is to get your child to understand and respect everyone's unique traits," he says. "All children grow and develop social skills by interacting and playing with other personalities."
Make safety a priority
All kids need to be taught to keep themselves safe, but extroverted kids may be particularly susceptible to "stranger danger." "Extroverted children are generally natural helpers, so a malicious adult could take advantage of that instinct and perhaps enlist an extroverted child's 'help' as a rouse to do harm," warns Tucker. "Teach your extroverted child that there is nothing an adult cannot do for themselves that they would need a child's help with."
"As a parent, raising an extrovert means that you'll have to focus more on boundaries and politeness," agrees Raichbach. "Kids that aren't shy will go up to anyone and start a conversation, which can be a safety concern. You want to encourage their social nature, but keep in mind that they need to be taught what is appropriate and what isn't."
Raising an extroverted child can be a lot of fun — and it's certainly never quiet! While it helps to take expert advice on board, try not to get too caught up in labeling your child. Don't pigeonhole them just because they lean toward a certain personality type. While your little one might get bored faster being alone than an introvert might, it doesn't mean they're not capable of enjoying a little downtime too. Take the time to work out what makes your child tick. Above all, make them feel loved and appreciated, exactly as they are.