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Is Your Child Introverted, Extroverted or Ambiverted?

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Everyone has their own unique style in regards to how they reenergize. Some individuals draw energy from being around a lot of people and stimuli, whereas others prefer being alone. Understanding whether your son or daughter is an introvert, extrovert or ambivert and then aligning their activities and social interactions accordingly can play a large role in reducing their stress and improving their overall emotional well-being. This is particularly true during high stress situations such as deployments and PCS moves.

Which Temperament Is Your Child?
If you're unsure whether your child is an introvert, extrovert or ambivert, here is a breakdown of some of the common traits that each group exhibits:

Introverts often recharge by spending time alone or in the company of a small group of close friends or relatives. They often gravitate towards activities that are conducted independently. Many people are under the impression that all introverts are shy, however this is a misconception. The world is filled with introverts who refrain from conversations simply because they don't desire a lot of verbal communication, not because they're shy.

Extroverts are very social and outgoing. They recharge by being around other people, in fact, many subscribe to the philosophy that the more people they're around the better. They're often active participants in conversations and if there's not a conversation occurring there's an excellent chance that they'll start one.

Ambiverts exhibit a mixture of extroverted and introverted traits. For example, a teenage girl that's an ambivert may have a large circle of friends that she loves to socialize with but she also craves time to be alone. She's just as content sitting home reading a book as she is hanging out at the mall with her friends.

Creating a Strategy
Now that you have a general concept of the basic traits for each of the above referenced temperaments, you can put that knowledge to good work by letting it guide you in determining how much or how little stimuli your child requires in order to feel refreshed and reenergized.

How To Help Introverted Kids

1. Make sure they have plenty of alone time to decompress.

2. Avoid over-scheduling their days with activities that bombard them with stimuli.

3. Respect their need for quiet time. In other words, if possible refrain from interacting with them while they seek a few moments of respite from the "busyness" of life.

How To Help Extroverted Kids

1. Build plenty of social activities and outings into their schedule.

2. When feasible engage in as much conversation and interaction with them as you possibly can. Chatting with your extroverted son or daughter while you make dinner or fold laundry will help fill their need for social interaction, plus it gives you an opportunity to hear what's going on in their world.

3. Consider enrolling them in one of the various military camps for kids. Not only will they be around numerous other military kids but they'll also be kept busy with fun activities and new learning experiences.

How To Help Ambiverted Kids

1. Balance is the key to helping ambiverted kids. Make sure there's an adequate mixture of social stimuli and alone time built into their lives.

2. Pay attention to their cues. For example, you may find that after spending many hours in the company of others your ambiverted child returns home, grabs a book and retreats to his or her room. Or, you may find that after spending several hours alone they're counting the minutes until they can meet up with their friends. When it's feasible try and accommodate whichever particular need they have at the time.

3. Provide variety. Expose your ambiverted child to a wide variety of new experiences and learning opportunities. This tactic will help keep their world interesting while also assisting them in learning more about their personal preferences, knowledge that they'll be able to revert to as their life progresses.

Meeting Everyone Needs
So what happens if you have several children and each has a different temperament? How can you meet your children's needs without driving yourself and everyone in the household crazy?

Many families contain a mixture of introverts, extroverts and ambiverts. The good news is that ensuring everyone's needs are met isn't nearly as challenging as you may think. Numerous options exist for families of mixed temperaments.

For starters, don't be under the impression that you must meet everyone's needs every moment of every day. By doing so, you run the risk of becoming exhausted and sending your stress level sky high. Instead, opt for activities and outings that offer something for each of the temperaments within your family.

For instance, attending story time at the library may be a great solution if you have preschoolers and young elementary aged kids. The extroverts will be among other kids while also being entertained by the story teller. Your introverts can sit and listen to the story and interact with the other children as much or as little as they feel comfortable with.

Outings to parks and/or play dates is another simple solution at your disposal. Your extroverts can socialize with their peers while your introverts can either play alone or interact with a select few.

In either scenario, your ambiverts will gravitate towards the amount of stimuli they need at that given moment. Don't be surprised if you see them mixing it up a little, meaning they'll have animated conversations with others and then retreat into low key activities and interaction.

Another option that's available to parents is to alternate scheduling days or evenings that cater specifically to one of the temperaments. For example, let's say you've had an extremely busy week filled with lots of running and stimuli. You can tell from your introverted child's mood that he or she has either reached or surpassed their stimuli limits. An easy solution may be to announce that Saturday is going be a day to stay home and unwind.

The same principle applies for the extroverts in your family. If you've had a fairly inactive week due to weather conditions, illness or various other circumstances, make it a point to plan an outing that includes plenty of social interaction.

Strive for a Healthy Balance
Whether your child is an introvert, extrovert or ambivert, there's no need to go to extremes when trying to meet their needs. Your extroverted child doesn't need to be on the go or have nonstop conversations every waking moment, nor does your introverted child require endless hours of solitude every single day in order to function.

The key to helping your child reenergize is to first understand which temperament they have and then incorporate an appropriate amount of stimuli or down time into their schedules on a regular basis.

Taking Care of You
Moms and dads, you count too. Don't make the mistake of always placing everyones needs above your own. It's important for your own mental, physical and emotional health that you make the time to recharge—especially during a deployment when so many demands are placed on your time and energy.

You probably have a pretty good idea of whether you're an introvert, extrovert or ambivert. However, if you'd like to gain more insight into your temperament and personality, set aside a few moments and take the Jung Typology test.

Books

  • The Hidden Gifts of the Introverted Child: Helping Your Child in an Extroverted World by Marti Olsen Laney
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  • What Type Am I? Discovering Who You Really Are by Renee Baron
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  • Your Child's Unique Temperament: Insights and Strategies for Responsive Parenting by Sandee Graham McClowry
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