I have an assignment to discuss a topic related to child development for my post-grad class and I decided to take this opportunity to continue my quest to learn more about my child that has the polar opposite of my personality. Hello, my name is Kim and I am an extrovert. My mother always said I never met a stranger and being around people made me happy as a child. I thrived on being the center of attention and making people laugh. I never really thought much about my personality or that I was an extrovert until I had my second child. He was so different from his sister, also an extrovert and my mini me, in every possible way and I was feeling so frustrated at not understanding his needs. My husband and I were talking about it one day and it was during our discussion that I began to understand exactly how different my daughter and I were from him and my son. I began researching and reading everything I could get my hands on about introverts and I was amazed that I have loved this man for 14 years and never thought much about the differences in our personalities. I felt at that point that I needed to step up my game considerably if I was going to be a good parent to this child I didn’t understand. For the first few years, it was not that difficult to parent my child as long as I gave him plenty of notice of plans, made sure that he had time each day to spend along to recharge, and keep him out of places where there were crowds of people. Life for him was going well until he reached first grade and I began to notice the stress was taking a toll on him. I discussed what I was seeing with his teachers and gave them examples of ways to help him feel more secure. We muddled through elementary school, where my husband and I both teach, until he reached the fifth grade and we decided to have him tested. We learned that he had a learning disability in Math and a delay in language, but what we didn’t know what that he also qualified with an emotional disability that was severe enough to affect his education. After digesting that information and working to help him deal with the stress of his world, we enjoyed a few good years of stability. Today finds me with a fourteen year old introvert with ADHD and an emotional disability dealing with high school and puberty. Each day is a process and I am trying to take one day at a time in order to make the most of the last few years that I will have with my baby at home. I am reminder of the old saying “No one ever said it would be easy, but it will be worth it.”
In an effort to try to learn more about how introverts function in an extrovert world, I began my research. Susan Cain is an author that I have found and she does a nice job explaining the life of an introvert. http://www.thepowerofintroverts.com/ is a website that offers a quiz and information about introverts and extroverts. Understanding about introverts is the first step, but how do I meet the challenges of being an extrovert and parenting an introverted child is the question I needed to address. The most helpful information I found came from an article by Elizabeth Larsen that summed it up like this, “Because introverts are so widely misunderstood, knowing how to raise one can be a challenge. Experts say parents and other grown-ups in these children’s lives need to stop pushing them to be something they aren’t and instead help them make the most of their strengths, even as our increasingly extroverted culture pushes them to conform to its way of doing things.” http://www.parents.com/kids/development/shy/raising-an-introvert/
So my challenge is to live each day and give my son the space he needs to find his own way. I realize that his way might not be the way I would have it for him, it will make him happy. That, after all, is what all parents wish for their children is to find happiness! If you have an introverted child or you are an introvert, I would love any advice you can send my way.