How do you raise an extrovert toddler if you’re an introvert dad?

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Our kids won’t always take after us. Here’s how you can cope with having a toddler with a massive personality if you’re an introvert parent

There is no assurance that our kids will take after us. Though we try our best to appreciate and understand their individuality, there are times when we will find it difficult to catch up with them.

But celebrating their unique traits is essential to raising them well.

Greg Kanaan, a dad to an adorable two-year-old girl, shares his own fascinating experiences as an introverted parent with Fatherly.

Here are four lessons he learned from being a reserved dad raising a gregarious toddler.

Make health and fitness a priority

Raising kids—especially energetic ones—may take its toll on your body so you have to stay fit.

From running around to climbing trees and jumping up and down, extroverted kids are active and unable to sit still for prolonged periods of time.

Finding ‘me’ time to recharge is crucial

Recharging your emotional batteries is essential. Finding alone time in your busy schedule can be a challenge.

But this is a must for parents who want to raise extroverted kids the best possible way.

More positive tips for introvert parents on the next page!

Know how to deal with a meltdown

Extroverted kids expend as much physical energy as they do emotionally. So, from time to time, they get unruly.

Introverts, as Greg shares, are uncomfortable with the attention. But having a kid who wasn’t as shy as he was meant that he would not be able to escape the spotlight for very long.

“As an introvert, I’m already uncomfortable with attention – even if it’s positive – so hostile attention is enough to make me instantly shrivel into a shiny ball of fiery hot shame,” he writes.

Once he and his wife notice a possible meltdown building up, they implement a plan they have in place: a series of “happy distractions”. Examples of these are: “taking corner booths at restaurants far from other diners, and giving her access to toys she can only play with when [they’re] out.”

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photo: Dreamstime

Embrace the affection, when given

Though their daughter has her “clingy phases”, she rarely holds on to her parents for more than a few seconds.

He admits it’s been a struggle not to take it personally when she would rather run around the street instead of holding on to his hand. Or, choose to play with her blocks instead of granting her mom’s request to hug her dad.

All this, however, made him value those moments when she does show affection.

“But on those rare occasions when she climbs into my lap so I can read to her, or she nuzzles into my wife’s neck for more than 3 seconds, the affection feels special because you can sense she knows how much we need the cuddling. Those are the moments I treasure,” marvels Greg.

Though some of the behaviors mentioned practically apply to every child, it’s more so true with extroverted ones.

For Greg, having an extroverted child meant having to confront his shortcomings and to change for the better; it was a transition he describes as “brutally difficult” but one he does not regret.

“Dealing with a tiny person with a giant personality means I’ve had to relinquish far more control than I’m comfortable with,” he writes. “But what I’ve lost in control, I’ve gained in a peace of mind: [I’ve] never had control to begin with.”

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