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Let’s revisit last week’s question: how do you care for a child with a radically different personality than your own?
As you know if you’ve listened to much of our podcast, my problem was the opposite. Early on in my saga of marriage and parenthood, I had the family scheduled up to our ears. I couldn’t allow us to have a single free moment; I needed social events to occupy all our free time. I felt like we were on a treadmill going at like 10 or 11 — and then God gave me these beautiful introverted spirits to teach me how to slow down!
Now, per the title of this episode, you may have the opposite challenge: extroverted children. If you’re more introverted and you have an extroverted child, you may see your child as almost like a threat, because you’re not gonna understand why they’re so energetic and independent, and it may trigger some unconscious part of you. Now, I need you to take a deep breath. Let it out. Repeat as necessary. Get curious, not furious.
You and your child are working at completely different paces, and that’s okay! Just know in advance that it’s gonna be a little bit harder to connect with that child because they’re not like you. Remember the “birthday parenting” mindset (episode 116): just like planning a birthday gift for someone means thinking the way they think, your task is to get curious about how and why they think and act the way they do so you can give them what they need.
I saw a very useful image floating around the Internet, which was a list of 10 ways to care for extroverts. I’ve placed my own spin on the blog in high resolution — go check that out! — and I’ll write down all the points for people who are using podcast apps or might otherwise want a text copy.
- Respect their independence.
- Compliment them in the company of others.
- Accept and encourage their enthusiasm.
- Allow them to explore and talk things out.
- Thoughtfully surprise them.
- Understand when they are busy.
- Let them dive right in.
- Offer them options.
- Make physical and verbal gestures of affection.
- Let them shine.
Honor the child that you HAVE, versus the child you THOUGHT you would have — and I promise on a stack of Bibles, things will work out, and this will let them evolve into more of who God intended them to be, versus who we thought they would be. REMEMBER: you’ve got this!
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