Growling, four-year old Matt backed away from his grandmother when she attempted to kiss him hello. This was actually progress. Last year he had hit her. Sara on the other hand, leapt into her grandma’s embrace almost knocking her on her heels. Two hours later, off in a corner, Matt happily played a game of Memory with grandpa. Sara was running through the living room shrieking, unable to contain her excitement over all the commotion around her. Extroverts and introverts – what each type considers “fun” and “needs” is quite different during the holidays. Plan for success, by taking the time to assess who in your family is an introvert and who is an extrovert.
Introverts like to watch before joining in, so to insure that the greetings go smoothly show them photos of who will be there before you arrive. Teach them to give a welcoming high five. It is a socially acceptable way to say hello and still protect their space. They can also choose to sit in chairs with arms– again to protect their space. If they’re little keep them in your embrace until they have had time to observe and decide they are ready to respond.
Know what’s fun to introverts is some one-on-one time with a favorite person and even though they love the relatives too, they are still going to need a quiet space or time outside for a break. Teach them to ask for it instead of growling, throwing a fit or crawling under the table and refusing to come out. If they choose to take a break by focusing on the iPod instruct them to find an out if the way space instead of plopping on the couch where the extroverts will immediately rush to join them and drive them crazy by invading their space. Most importantly recognize when a good time has been had by all and it’s time to leave.
On the other hand, a holiday spent with others is nirvana for the extroverts who thrive on interaction and activity. Trouble is they can get so wound up by all of the energy of the event that suddenly they are bumping into everyone and so loud that others are covering their ears in self-defense. Like introverts, extroverts may also need a break from the action; the challenge is getting them out of there so plan on taking a ball or sleds for time outside. The group can come too, but at least there is a little more space to slow things down. Speaking of taking breaks it’s also important to teach the extroverts that when the introverts wish to stop playing games it’s not a personal insult, and when the introverts slip away for a little peace and quiet to avoid following them to “keep them company.” Somewhere there is another extrovert they can find to continue playing. If possible you might also want to take two cars so the introverts can leave when they are feeling drained and the extroverts can party til the wee hours. Appreciate the gift of differences. Happy holidays!