February 17, 2019

How to Raise an Extroverted Child

“Last month, my wife told our 5-year-old daughter, Anna, that because we’d be out of town on an upcoming weekend, Anna would have to decline an invitation she’d gotten. It was a birthday party for a boy I’ll call Ben.

“Oh, can’t we please stay home?” Anna implored. “I really want to go to Ben’s party.”

“But Anna,” my wife said, “you don’t like Ben.”

Anna looked at her, perplexed. “That’s true,” she said. “But I like parties!”

Such are the travails of raising an extrovert. For Anna, there is no such thing as a bad party. No night can drag on too long; no guest can overstay her welcome. People, she believes, are born to be together. For her, if solitude is not quite a vice, it is at best an inexplicable lapse in taste.

How extreme is Anna’s extroversion? One day, she wouldn’t leave kindergarten until she had said goodbye to, and hugged, every child in the room. Because most kids her age don’t take telephone calls, she likes to call my best friend since childhood, now a man of 45, on the phone. She can never connect enough.

In the 15 years since Jonathan Rauch wrote his influential essay “Caring for Your Introvert,” pro-introvert dogma has been preached in scores of articles, television news segments and books, including “The Introverted Leader,” “The Introvert Advantage ” and Susan Cain’s 2012 mega-seller, “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.” We have all been instructed that introverts are special, underappreciated and, to quote Rauch, “wildly” misunderstood.”

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