To say my daughter is extroverted is to say the ocean is slightly damp. When she was first learning to talk my wife and I delighted in every uttered sound. Now I lock myself in the bathroom for a few seconds escape from the onslaught of talking. How can you tell if your child is an extrovert? If you answer ‘yes’ to any of the following questions, your child is probably extroverted.
- Does your child ask you to come with them to the bathroom so they can continue a conversation?
- Do they constantly interrupt your conversations and then, when prompted to say what they have to say, make up something so they can fill the silence?
- Do they accost strangers in grocery stores, parking lots, and stairwells, and finish their conversations by saying, “Thank you sir, I love you!”
- When, in a rare moment they are playing by themselves, do they emit a steady stream of hums or random words?
- Do they swallow their food as fast as possible so they can keep talking during meals?
- Do they ask each question five or six times in rapid succession then talk through the answer and ask again?
My wife and I are both introverted and appreciate time by ourselves in relative quiet so we can recharge and find some peace. Our thought process goes like this: think, process, speak. Our daughter’s process goes like this: speak speak speak speak speak speak. If you’ve ever seen a person racing along a platform attempting to board a train accelerating out of the station, this is her contemplative mind being left behind by the expediency of speech.
How do I deal with this? I’ve found reading books out loud is a good way to calm her down and engage her without it becoming an escalation of volume. If I need to talk on the phone, it’s a two-step process. First, she is given a simple task, like putting a sock in the laundry. Suitably distracted, I make a run for one of the few lockable rooms in the house, rushing to finish my conversation before she comes looking for me. Mealtimes are much like post-war treaty negotiations, with high tempers, begging, steadfast determination, mock tears, and ultimately a conclusion where everyone is unhappy.
I suspect my daughter will be the one kid at the sleepover who is still talking while everyone else is clamping a pillow over their ears. She’ll be the center of conversation at a cocktail party, a force of nature that sweeps in like a typhoon, getting everyone’s heart rate up and knocking over lawn furniture and carports. She will build a network of people she knows, and will use that network to climb in ways I could never imagine. She will delight and exhaust everyone she meets. This child, so different from me, is like a glowing meteorite that crashed through our roof and into our lives. Already I can’t compete with her, but I love her dearly and can only wonder at her energy.