Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Introvert versus Extrovert

If you know me and my family, you know that Perry and I are very different. He has never met a stranger and could carry on an hour conversation with a wall. I, on the other hand, have a very short list of people I consider friends, and feel like an outsider with almost everyone else. Small talk is not my gift.
With Sarah and Abby, we have one of each of us. Abby is very self-confident, independent, friendly, and outgoing (like her daddy). She makes a new friend everywhere we go, and can’t wait until she’s old enough to go off to camp for a week by herself. At church, she goes up for Children’s Moment and then leaves the sanctuary with the other kids, even if she doesn’t know anyone. At parties, she plays with all the kids, even the ones she doesn’t know. Basically, she’s a social butterfly. Sarah is very shy around strangers, clings to me in every new situation, tries to hang onto her sister or a friend she knows at parties, and is generally uncomfortable in social settings (like me).
Until this year, when they started kindergarten in separate classes, S&A had done everything together. Preschool, mommy and me classes, dance classes, birthday parties – they had basically lived identical lives. So I strongly believe in the nature versus nurture argument – they are who they are because they were born that way, not because I made them that way over the years. But my question is, how can I teach my Sarah better social skills?
I know that lots of kids, and many adults, are shy. But honestly I've always wanted to be more secure, more outgoing, more friendly, more like Perry! So if there's a way to bring out that side of Sarah, I'd like to try to help her. Of course I encourage her to try new things, and push her out of her comfort zone (ever so gently, of course) so that she won’t stay in her little safe cocoon. And she’s very lucky to have a twin sister to help her through those uncomfortable situations. But what else can I do? How can you help a shy child blossom?

1 comment:

Lane said...

I know there are benefits to a child with an outgoing personality, but I have to say that, being a shy child myself, I think that I turned out okay.:) My mom never tried to make me do anything that I didn't think of first (not that I remember) and I broke out of my shell when the time was right. I think you are doing everything right-giving Sarah opportunities to try new things (dancing, school activities, hiking) and find what it is that will, eventually, make her come out of shyness and show what she really loves and what will make her feel comfortable enough to be outgoing. You will be surprised but there will be that THING that just makes her get that excitement and then you will just go WOW.