August 29, 2013 by Jo
Anyone who knows Jeff and me knows that we are extroverts. We enjoy being around people, entertaining in our home, getting to know others on a personal level, and other traits that are classic signs of extroverts.
We are two very different types of extroverts, with one of us being the uptight, organized kind and the other…Jeff, but extroverts we are nonetheless.
So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the child we have produced together is definitely an extrovert. And we are learning, slowly but surely, how to parent this bundle of friendliness, and the emotions and reactions that exist due to her extroverted bloodline.
The first thing you should know about Nola Jean is that she loves people, especially other kids. It doesn’t matter how old they are or what gender; she automatically assumes they are her friends, and if they don’t reciprocate, she is heartbroken. Extrovert.
The second thing is that Nola Jean has a very clear reason for living, even at her tender age of 3; she wants to be with her friends. If that doesn’t happen on a regular basis – no interaction with people her age – you can see an obvious change in her attitude. Extrovert.
Finally, Nola Jean requires a period of time in each day where she is the BOSS. She needs time where she can make decisions about what everyone is doing and be in control of the situation. This trait comes from me…her overtly ENFJ (although that F switches to a T sometimes) mother. It’s not necessarily a trait of an extrovert, but is commonly associated with us, and what fun is being in charge if there’s no one to boss around?
All of this has led to us putting her in preschool this year. We’re excited about an affordable, private, tiny school we found within walking distance of my office. She’s only going 3 days a week for the morning hours, but I am thrilled with the prospect of her being part of a group, having a chance to focus on big and small tasks in a structured environment, and making new friends who will undoubtedly feed her extroverted soul.
While school should help add some balance to her extroverted sensibilities, we’re also learning to recognize what she needs as a child with the acute desire to be around other people.
She is very, VERY good at playing by herself, but she still craves time with her “best friend” (Sandra, who is 6 and lives across the street) and is sad when she goes to stay with my mom and her cousin Todd isn’t there, etc. So Jeff and I try to make sure she has time with other kids outside of her siblings weekly.
Nola Jean likes to feel as though she is making decisions. If we’re having trouble getting her to focus, it usually just takes letting her make a choice to bring her back in line. Another trait of extroversion – the desire to be in charge!
We’re also learning to be even more friendly ourselves. Nola Jean makes friends wherever she goes; for instance, we went on a dolphin cruise at the beach yesterday. Within minutes of arriving Nola had sought out another little girl and they were playing quietly in the sand near the marina. When we got on the boat, the little girl’s grandmother, Shelli and I got to know each other as the girls played together. However, once the boat started and Nola wasn’t sitting next to her friend, it all fell apart. Nola’s sobs, deep and sincere, reminded me just how much she NEEDED to be near another kid her age, and we’d been at the beach without any kid interaction for several days. I wasn’t embarrassed when the grandmother walked over with Nola’s new friend, and asked if we could all sit together. She helped me diffuse the situation before I even realized what was happening, and it reminded me that Nola – just like I do – craves time with people.
I’m hoping that Jeff and I can continue to encourage her extroverted side, but also teaching her what’s appropriate (there’s nothing more annoying than an extrovert with no boundaries) and showing her how important alone time is, too. Her brother and sister (also extroverts!) are helping in all of this, too, as they are pretty well-rounded when it comes to most of these things.
Well, I haven’t blogged in over a year…but this was cathartic, and hopefully I’ll be back again soon!