How to Help Your Extrovert When Social Doors Close


extroverted kid

Having a child who is a natural-born social butterfly is usually a blessing. These are the kids who instantly find their niche on any playground, can effortlessly pick up on social cues and just generally love group settings (the bigger the audience, the better!). My middle child is that kid, and I am constantly both in awe of her confidence and social ease, and relieved that I never have to worry about her finding her “people.” 

Then, like the majority of the country, our Northern California school shut down in response to COVID-19. As I write this, we are under a “shelter in place” order in our home county, and there are increasing signs that school won’t resume until next fall. The previously unimaginable is now unfolding all over the world, and we are being tested as parents in ways we never could have dreamed even a few weeks ago. 

Each and every one of our kids is being forced to adapt to new realities of school closure, social distancing and in some cases home confinement. Among my three kids, I see the effect of those restrictions in different ways, but it’s my extroverted daughter who is suffering the most. For the first time since I became a mom, she’s the one setting off alarm bells in my brain. I have come to realize she’s not only at ease out there in the crowded world; those social interactions are her fuel. Now that they’re gone – with no clear end yet in sight – how do I help nourish her soul?

The first answer, so far, has been screen time…but not the kind we’re supposed to avoid but actually can’t because we need to make it to the end of the day for god’s sake. I’m talking about two-way video chats with her friends. I try to space them out to one per day, so it’s a special treat that she looks forward to. Often they don’t consist of much more than “hi” and a lot of giggling (these are kindergarteners we’re talking about), but they are a huge pick-me-up for my daughter in a way that hanging out with her siblings at home, or FaceTime with grandparents, just can’t really replace. 

Another mood-booster has just been getting as much fresh air and exercise as possible – something all our kids need right now, but especially those who are feeling extra down. Karate classes on Zoom, kid-friendly yoga from YouTube and wild dance parties in the kitchen – you name it, we’re probably doing it over at our house, and we all feel better after letting loose to “Old Town Road Remix.” 

Lastly, I’m just keeping a closer eye on her than I normally do, and cutting her slack when she acts out (within reason). It’s unreasonable to expect her to “be herself” under these circumstances when her true self is a gregarious, spotlight-loving, life-of-the-party personality. 

We’re all feeling this. But the most magnetic, contact-seeking individuals among us – of any age – feel the greatest loss when social interactions are limited, and they need a special kind of care and attention to get through those times. What’s more, children often don’t know how to verbalize their sadness or stress and ask for help. Navigating this often-overwhelming situation, and others that may arise in the future, will take all of us working together to discover the day-by-day solutions that keep our families stable. Fortunately, when it comes to our tiny extroverts, teamwork is something they’re great at.  


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