My nonstop chatterbox son taught me that when it’s relevant, speak up!
When I was growing up, I was seriously misunderstood, especially when it came to my introversion. People didn’t understand why I was the way I was — why I found it hard to talk to people and why I felt happier alone. I was not only an introvert, but I also had social anxiety.
Since I have always lived with a big family, I used to grab every opportunity I could to be alone and spend time with myself. Although that was fine to me, to others, it was confusing. Those who did not know me thought I was being aloof. In reality, I just needed some time alone to recharge my energy. (Sounds familiar, my fellow introverts?)
Of course, once I was old enough to know myself better, understanding my introversion finally brought me peace and awareness. But the struggles of making others understand me and my quiet nature are still the same.
So when my son was born, I decided that whatever his personality, I would try to decode every aspect of him as much as I could. I’d make him understand it, too, so that when he grows up, he will not face the same struggles I did. And in the two years that I have been on this parenting journey, I have learned a lot of things from my extroverted son. I’ve also managed to teach him a few things myself.
5 Valuable Things My Extroverted Child Has Taught Me
1. If you do not make something a big deal, no one else will either.
Introverts, listen up! I don’t know about you, but I tend to overthink every word and gesture of everyone around me. For example, I worry that they’ll notice if I’m not talking during a work meeting or social gathering.
But the fact of the matter is, people around us probably are not paying as much attention to us as we may think. Yes, they might notice our behavior or appearance, but if you do not think it matters, then probably nobody else will think twice about it either.
Trust me, living with my son has taught me to stop worrying about (or overthinking) every little thing. He’s a toddler, so he will stain all his clothes or shout at the top of his lungs and will be completely worry-free. I’m trying to be the same way.
2. Speaking up for yourself is just as important as listening.
I know, I know — talking is not a thing that we introverts love to do (we excel at listening), but some situations do require us to speak. If you’re like me, you can probably think of dozens of moments where you felt like you should have said something or could have phrased something differently.
In instances like these, it’s important to let your views and feelings be known. For example, maybe your friend is going through a breakup and needs a fresh perspective on the situation. Or perhaps a colleague is being treated unfairly and you want to say something.
My nonstop chatterbox son taught me that when it’s relevant, speak up! For example, he will spend the day repeating poems he has learned to anyone and everyone, regardless of whether or not they listen.
3. Reaching out for help is crucial.
It truly amazes me how we lose the ability to ask for help as adults, something which comes naturally to children. Regardless of their personality type, when children feel the need to ask for help, they will do so unabashedly and without regrets. For instance, if my son wants to go to the bathroom or cannot reach a shelf, he will come find me and I will help him out.
I guess, as adults, we feel we should be the responsible ones, and therefore hesitate to ask for comfort and support. But we forget the fact that we are still human beings, and we need assistance from time to time, too. Even if it’s just the need to meet a close friend for a chat or to ask someone to help us with something — like pick up dinner — there is no shame in asking for help.
4. Your needs are just as important as everyone else’s.
Yes, that’s right: Your needs are just as important and valid as everyone else’s. I know we introverts sometimes find it difficult to say “no” to people. In our quest to please the world, we often put our needs aside, which makes others appreciate us, but leaves us exhausted.
So try putting yourself first more often. It is imperative, for your sanity, to pay attention to yourself and your needs. It is not good for you to always suppress your desires and adjust your schedule according to what others say and need.
Even if it brings discomfort to others, it is all right to fulfill your needs. If my son is hungry or wants to sleep or play, he will do so regardless of what is going on around him, and I have tried to adopt that attitude, too. So if I need to take a nap, I take a nap. If I am too busy to eat, I make sure I find the time.
5. If no one praises you, praise yourself.
I clearly remember the day when my son took his first steps and I clapped and cheered him on. He wasn’t just happy about being able to walk, but also learned how to clap for himself.
So the next time he did something praiseworthy, he did not wait for me to cheer him on but began clapping all by himself. And I thought this was wonderful.
We introverts do like to be recognized for our talents, even if we’re modest about it. We might even get a little jealous of those people who get appreciated more than us, like the extroverts in the office.
I realized that if, like my son, we appreciate ourselves and cheer ourselves on, it’ll give us more personal satisfaction and contentment. This way, we don’t have to expect others to do so. It’s something that I try to do daily — pat myself on the back after a job well-done.
And while I’m learning a lot from my extroverted child, I’m also teaching him a thing or two about the perks of being an introvert.
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5 Valuable Things I’ve Taught My Extroverted Child
1. Alone does not mean lonely.
A big thing I’ve taught my extroverted son is that alone does not mean lonely. As much as my son loves to play with other children, he has somehow come to understand that he can’t be the center of attention all the time. Usually in the afternoons, when I am at my writing desk, I make sure that I give him a bunch of stuff to play with so that he stays occupied. He initially resisted it — by trying to climb up my desk and messing up my things — but after repeated tries, he understood that he had to play alone. I would also make it a point to not speak with him or try to engage with him, and after a few tries, he realized the importance of quiet time (which I need to recharge). He even keeps his voice low, so as not to disturb me. I appreciate it — however long it lasts (until he gets bored).
2. Nature is something to be appreciated.
Another thing that I have passed on from my introverted self is my love and appreciation for nature. When I take my son for a walk in the park or the beach, I point out different things, like flowers, leaves, and birds — and he gets excited about everything. We even walk barefoot on the ground, make sandcastles, collect rocks, leaves, and so on. He’s not afraid to touch anything, even bugs! As he grows older, I think he’ll understand how peaceful nature can be.
3. Speech is silver, silence is golden — it’s okay not to talk all the time.
I realize I just wrote about how it is important to speak, but as an introvert, I know how silence is crucial, too. It has taken me a long time to make sure that my son does not speak in front of others unnecessarily and does not interrupt conversations. This has helped him realize the value of taking a break and calming himself by remaining quiet sometimes.
4. Happiness can (and should) be found internally.
Due to his extroverted nature, my child always found it very boring to be alone for more than 10 minutes at a time, and it seems that whatever activity he does, he always requires company. At home or outside, he insists on constant companionship, something which is hard to provide. But, over time, I have made him realize that he can be happy without a friend or a parent. He does not need anyone all the time, that he’s capable of doing things alone — and enjoying them and his own company.
5. Reading and writing are great, reflective habits.
One exercise that most introverts are fond of doing, apart from thinking, is reading and writing. Since we have a philosophical sort of mind, intellectual activities are stimulating to us, and I want my son to develop a habit of reading and writing, too. He loves to explore his picture books and scribble on pages — it delights him immensely. Hopefully, he’ll turn into a writer, too!
Living with my extroverted child has made me aware of what a difference it can make when you make slight changes to your attitude toward things. From the very beginning, I had been anxious about how I would cope with my highly active son. But I have realized that being a highly sensitive introvert has been even more useful to me as a mother. Now that I know how to relate to my son, I think both of us will continue to learn from each other in the coming years.