7 Steps to Help Your Child Thrive

Children live in two worlds: the world of the introvert and the world of the extrovert. According to Carl Jung, an introvert has impulses and inclinations that direct their actions inward, finding themselves in a world of thoughts and feelings somewhat independent of their contact with others. On the contrary, an extravert seeks action and understanding in their physical environment and through social interactions.

To raise a whole child, we, parents, must understand that children need time to explore, develop and grow in both of these worlds. If your child naturally wakes in the morning and charges forth, she may very well be more comfortable in the world she shares with you and others. In contrast, if your child wakes slowly and lingers longer in his dreams and the coziness of his bed, he may find more comfort in a world that is hidden from your view.

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There are no hard and fast lines determining if your child is an introvert or extravert. Children have the capacity to thrive within both sides of themselves. They can actually live in both worlds; one is simply safer and more familiar than the other. Some children are more comfortable in the inner world while others thrive in the outer. Your child may have more experience on one side of her self, but for the experience to engender meaning, she may need to make sense of it in the other side of her self. This is where we, as parents, come in; we can help them mediate both developing sides simultaneously.

Now you may ask, how do I do this? You can begin by understanding how you can best support and manage your child’s transitions. Conversations with your child will evolve as the primary relationship where she learns to explore her place in a world of understanding held only by you.

  1. Recognize your child’s unique ways of exploring both sides of her self. Does she leap into life as though she seemingly finds herself in each moment of engagement? Does she retreat and need time to process at her own pace, thinking and playing comfortably on her own?

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  1. Remember that your child is growing exponentially every day. Start fresh: how you respond will vary on a day-to-day basis. 
  1. Become familiar with the place between action and reflection: Silence and rest is a third position that will allow your child to chart the pathway that connects both sides of her self.
  1. Remember his dual nature is developing both sides simultaneously; one is somewhat visible while the other is just beyond our ability to understand.
  1. Know each side of your child. Explore and learn when quiet reflection is needed: reading, napping, being bored, a bath. These times may help him to “make sense” or meaning of his experience. Or possibly, does theatrical dance, wild conversation, creating, building and knocking down the castle she just constructed become the best way for her to express and understand her feelings?
  1. Let play be your guide. There is nothing to figure out. Just know that your engagement with your child is where both sides of the self can come into balance.

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  1. Trust your child to show you the way.

In dialogue, whether verbal or non verbal, our children express their feelings and anchor their experience in their bodies and their relationships. This dialogue with us, their parents, gives them a third world, a world of silent reflection, a world of active mirroring, a world where they know that we are aware of what they are feeling and thinking, a world where both sides of themselves can manifest in a safe and protected space. It is in this third world – where our children recognize that they are not alone.


{Image credit: Picjumbo}


About the Author

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Dr. Timothy Dukes consults with senior leaders and teams, established business owners, political and organizational visionaries, emerging innovators, entrepreneurs, and artists to bridge the worlds of dynamic opposition. He is a very present father, a psychologist of over 25 years and the author of “The Present Parent Toolkit” (2017). He lives in California with his wife, Sally, an editor, writer and psychotherapist. Learn more at www.drtimothydukes.com.

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