The Growth and Giggles Blog
Ideas for helping parents and their preschoolers.
How to Stretch Your Child Out of Their Activity Comfort-Zone
People are born with certain temperments. These temperments do not necessarily define the person. And we can all be helped in stretching ourselves beyond our own boundaries. Not to be as rigid as we might like.
Some are introverts. Some are extroverts. And everything in between. One definition of an introvert is a person who uses or loses energy around a group of people. And one definition of an extrovert is a person who gets energy out of groups of people.
Every human being can function well within a variety of situations. Most people fall somewhere in the middle of this introversion-extroversion spectrum. Prefered activity types can be indicators of a child's temperment. Very introverted children who have not practiced social skills can be quiet and withdrawn. These children need to be encouraged to learn to enjoy social movement and to be healthy in that way. Very extroverted children need to learn that there are times when being alone is necessary and good. Socially active children need to learn quieter activities such as reading and drawing. Socially withdrawn children need to learn more social activities such as conversation and play.
(Disclaimer: You can be on opposite ends of the spectum: an active introverted child or a sedentary extroverted child. It is important to notice/observe each child to focus on what each child is like. Then you will be able to help the weaknesses and celebrate and build up their strengths.)
Quieter children will often enjoy doing the following with their parents:
- cloud-gazing for shapes outside on a blanket
- quiet, gentle talk to get their imaginations going
- watching insects (a spider on a web, a caterpellar crawling)
- watching leaves fall, imagining a fairy floating riding on a leaf falling, watching where it lands
- looking at reflections in a puddle after a rain
- making up a story about jumping into a puddle and going into a different land (inspired by Narnia and Alice Through the Looking Glass)
- drawing chalk pictures on the sidewalk or cement
- playing card games or board games together
- quiet art activities, like drawing or painting
- snuggling and reading a book together
* These activities that quieter children usually thrive on are great for the more active child to be stretched so they can learn to enjoy them. Skills in stillness and the joys of quieter activities are to be sought. The secret is to get them to stretch a bit beyond their normal tendencies.
Active children enjoy:
- climbing a ladder and sliding down
- racing games, seeing who can get there first
- going to a park,
- making new friends
- outdoor games with a ball
- indoor balloon volleyball over a couch
- building towers that they can crash down
- dancing to music or making music
- nailing a piece of cardboard to a tree and painting with big strokes
- running through sprinklers or sliding on a wet shower curtain outside
We all can change to a degree. Enjoy your child. Get to know them. Work with them where they are. And then gently strech them. (For example, a parent can help calm an active child by whispering to them.)
We tend to undersatnd quickly the children similar to themselves. Be careful with the ones who are differen than you. Be careful to protect their personality. Don't put yourself -- yourself or your fears -- onto them. It helps to be aware of your own desires, fears, and temperment. Allow them to be who they are. This is how we can best help them to grow and be all that God has designed them to be.
To understand both perspectives better, see further reading: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking, by Susan Cain. Please also refer to the notes in our next blog article on The Developing Person Through the Lifespan, by Kathleen Berger.