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Raising an extrovert when you're an introvert. (responses very much appreciated!)


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Thanks in advance if you make it through this. I came to ask a simple question and ended up posting my entire thought process. 

 

So I've just read half of the book 'Raising your spirited child' and it was incredibly enlightening. I have always considered my four year old to be very demanding, high maintenance, intense, and just plain difficult at times. I love her more than anything and in a lot of my posts/blogs I talk about the guilt I have always had feeling like I don't do enough for her. After reading much of that book, something has just clicked. My daughter is an EXTREME extrovert/spirited child. I am extremely introverted, and so is my husband. I can see now just how much stress/tension/irritability/etc this causes for us all. What she needs to be happy is people, noise, movement, she needs to constantly be talking and making noise and to be DOING something at all times. That is what re-energizes her and makes her feel good. And unfortunately those are the things that drain me of my energy. I need quiet (at least sometimes) loud noises irritate me so much, movement irritates me (when it's bumping me or causes loud noises), I need a lot of time to gather my thoughts and just be alone... which I never get. I'm home all day with her and when my husband gets home he's drained within 5 or 10 minutes. We don't have a lot of family around who are able to babysit for breaks, and I don't have many options for friends with kids to do playdates with. We see my sister and her kids, and my ONE friend and her daughter a couple of times a week. 

 

I've honestly been at my wits end trying to keep this kid entertained every day. She will not play by herself. I have tried everything. Quiet time/alone time consists of her being extra noisy/throwing things/asking me questions/basically doing whatever she can to get attention. We have a lot of activities set up in almost every room, I will sit down and do them with her for a little while to get her going and she lasts two minutes once I'm doing my own thing. She hates being alone (as is normal with extroverted children, from what I've read!). We do a lot of activities together every day as well, there is just no balance and I can't catch a break. She gets a lot of snuggles and love, we go do activities outside of the house several times a week. I never feel like it's enough because whenever I am not doing something with her, she is demanding things/crying/screaming over every little thing. And meanwhile I'm just desperate for some peace with no way to get it. I'm sure at this point she is very aware of how to get on my nerves, by being extra disruptive and as noisy as possible when she can see I'm trying to concentrate on something. When she gets room time, she screams the ENTIRE time and will continuously peek her head out to ask questions or ask if she can come out yet. If I tell her it's not time yet (she gets 4 minutes) she slams the door and starts screaming again, then ten seconds later it's the same thing. 

 

This ended up being more of a rant... but I'm looking for advice from any introverted parents out there. How do you do it? How do you maintain your sanity? I am not a loud person by any means but by the time evening rolls around I feel like I am constantly irritated with her or we are all yelling. I have tried locking myself in the bathroom but she will just sit outside the door trying to talk to me. I need silence so bad. I really hate that my daughter mostly sees me feeling irritable and upset and just wanting some time to myself. 

 

In a way I'm glad to have discovered there's a reason why this has been so incredibly hard for me (parenting), for some reason it never clicked that I am introverted (I guess it makes sense with my social anxiety too). But at the same time I feel hopeless, like this will always be extra challenging and sometimes I just feel like I can't handle it. 

 

Thanks again if you made it all the way through this...

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wow, just reading about your day sounds exhausting. It makes sense to me that introverts raising extroverts would be exhausted. My kids are elementary school aged, but I remember thinking frequently that the hardest part of being a parent for me was never being able to be left alone with my own thoughts. My daughter in particular is a kid who seemed to wither away with angst if she was not constantly in my presence, which at times felt like torture to me. You sound like a really kind and thoughtful parent what with your trying to put yourself in her head as an extrovert. Two things occurred to me while reading. One is that you mention your spouse is drained after 5 or 10 minutes, and I'm curious, does he back away then and leave it to you? Cause I remember how totally desperate I felt for a break when my kids were young and I was at home with them. Also, your daughter is four, and in the US at least that means she probably is not all that far away from starting kindergarten, where there is most likely going to be quiet time and other things that aren't her first choice imposed upon her to some degree or another, and it's probably worthwhile preparing her for that so she has a better transition. Can you bribe her with something meaningful to her for little spans of time she can entertain herself? Praise her to high heavens every time she lets you alone in the bathroom? I understand you said you've tried everything, and I'm just throwing out ideas. For what it's worth, as exhausting as it is for you, you sound like a devoted and thoughtful parent.

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I am answering as an extrovert.  She is very young yet - but she needs to be exposed to an intense, structured group activity.  My mother did it for me - she took me to drama lessons every sat. for years.  Martial arts starts really young, or dance.  Music lessons, drama is a group activity.  Or maybe soccer.  Find something that she will fall in love with.  Give her an outlet for her intensity - and something where she has an instructor or coach and other kids, and you are not involved at all.

 

I don't know how but you need to carve out some quiet time for yourself.  I do hope for both your sake that when she learns to read - she LOVES it.  That would be helpful.

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Thank you both so much for the responses! 

 

Unstrung Harp --- No, my husband and I both team up once he is back from work, I think the reason he is drained so quickly is that by that time of day she is at her most cranky and demanding. That is the hardest time in our household. Good to know I'm not the only mom who has felt this way. I have tried to implement a quiet time, but it doesn't last very long unless I use movies and tv which I don't like doing too often. Maybe I need to come up with a better reward system for her..

 

Bpladybug --- You are absolutely right! I have just now signed her up for a dance class that starts in January and she is really excited about it. I plan on taking her to swimming lessons next year as well which should help with her energy. We do storytime at the library once a week. I wish we could have afforded pre-school, we made both too much to afford assistance and too little to afford anything in our area. I am attempting to home school her. She is a very intelligent girl just very strong willed, I definitely need to find ways to direct her energy and attention to things that are more productive. 

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