Thursday, June 30, 2011

Raising Extroverted Boys

I lamented in this post about being an introverted mom of three extroverted boys. I grew up in a quiet, introverted family of three girls (my younger sister is an extrovert, but she is certainly outnumbered!). Life is WILDLY different in a house full of (ALL!) extroverted boys. I came across a couple articles this week that had me nodding my head vigorously. (I fully understand that personalities vary, but these echo my personal experience.)

Why Boys Are Failing in an Educational System Stacked Against Them by Lori Day @

As the mother of a female only child, my parenting experience, while not always idyllic, has been relatively peaceful. As a toddler, my daughter was sedentary and cautious, and seemed to have nowhere she needed to go. She would sit in one spot on the floor for hours with a pile of books, "reading" to herself. I could shoot from room to room, accomplishing tasks, and she would smile up at me from her place on the living room rug as if wondering, what's the hurry?

She was much like I was as a child, and nothing like the brothers I had grown up with who requisitioned large expanses of the floor plan of our house for their games, commandeering space like an army of two. The entire finished basement was needed for indoor hockey (and windows were expendable). Outdoors, acres of woods were barely enough for their imaginary villages and the conquering of foreign lands. Unwitting trees were the patient recipients of nails and ropes and bungee cords, bending uncomplainingly to the weight of whatever animate or inanimate objects were tied, strapped or hung from them.

And then:

Our modern educational system works for many children, particularly girls, but for some boys (and girls) it places constraints on a very normal and necessary experiential type of learning, not to mention the need of many children to move around rather than sit still. While it may be a cynical statement, I have often felt that co-ed schools are girls' schools that boys go to.

Shyness: Evolutionary Tactic? by Susan Cain at gives words to some of my frustration, not only with being an introvert myself, but also with my young boys who don’t seem to have some of those nice ‘pro-social’ behaviors that came with the shy nature of my own childhood.

Sitters’ temperaments also confer more subtle advantages. Anxiety, it seems, can serve an important social purpose; for example, it plays a key role in the development of some children’s consciences. When caregivers rebuke them for acting up, they become anxious, and since anxiety is unpleasant, they tend to develop pro-social behaviors. Shy children are often easier to socialize and more conscientious, according to the developmental psychologist Grazyna Kochanska. By 6 they’re less likely than their peers to cheat or break rules, even when they think they can’t be caught, according to one study. By 7 they’re more likely to be described by their parents as having high levels of moral traits such as empathy.


The Hayes Zoo said...

Yep. Us too. Alan and I often remark that we know of no other more quiet, introverted people who have children of the opposite extreme.

There are no strangers in Riley's life. Names are NOT required either....:/

MissMOE said...

I recently was a camp counselor at a girls camp. My cabin was filled with all the rule followers. They were at the right place, at the right time for every activity and cleaned their cabin everyday because their camp book said they should. Life was pretty sweet that week! Then I came home to my kids! Not so neat nor orderly here, but I wouldn't trade them for anything---and that includes sending them to school so I could have a clean house!

Renee said...

Interesting! Do you think Lola will also be extroverted? Out of our 3, only my middle child is introverted. Poor guy. On days when there are a lot of places to go he is quietly asking, "When is it time to go home??" It is always a challenge giving the other two the social outlets they need, while respecting his need to be alone!!

Heidi said...

Renee~ I'm not sure what Lola is going to be yet! A few months ago I would have said introvert, but now I'm not so sure. I know she'll change a lot over the next year, or so. I don't know how she'll survive if she is really introverted!!

Bethany said...

As a mom of soon to be 4 boys and one girl I would highly encourage that you read the book Boys Adrift. I'll try and pull the link for you based on the first article you posted I think you would enjoy it and fine it helpful. I homeschool but my boys go to a school one day a week and I sometimes teach an art class there. It has really helped me in how I approach their educational environment and motivation.

Bethany said...

Sorry for typos commenting from my phone.

I almost didn't read this book because his first book had some things written by reviewers that turned me off in regards to babies and nursing and I still have not read his other book but this book was excellent and I agreed with a lot of what he said.

Monkey's Mommy said...

Definately agree. I remember as a child except maybe in kindergarten..sitting in class and it was always the boys getting in trouble but I wouldnt dare do anything to get in trouble. Monkey however man oh man I feel like nothing gets his attention.Maybe its his age but after reading this I wonder if it is just a boy thing.

Not to mention more boys then girls are being labeled as add or adhd.

Wattmom said...

I have 3 extroverts and I am an extrovert, tempered by my husband, who is an introvert. I love how hospitable, friendly, and that they love to welcome the new kid at church. But it also wears me out, all the talking and to anyone. I think sometimes one of my fears is they would just go with anybody. They are so extroverted that they are easily pulled to where the party is and not even notice that I am far away.

It is good to know that I am not the only one with littles that say Hi to everyone loudly in the grocery store.