Whether introverts or extroverts, it’s been hard for all children

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2020 00:00 |
Josphat Muthami, his wife Agnes Muthami, and their three children aged 19, 14 and 12 years. Photo/PD/Kwach Wakhisi

Experts advise parents to identify their children’s personality traits in order to help them cope during this Covid-19 pandemic.

Kwach Wakhisi

Over the last few months since Covid-19 pandemic broke out, families have had to grapple with a significant amount of changes in their lives; including increased levels of stress and anxiety now that everyone is at home.

For the children whose school routine was disrupted, things are not any easier as with a lot of time on their hands, they may find the long days boring.

For introverted children, staying home all day can reinforce anxiety as they may feel like their space is being interfered with while extroverted children may tend to feel lonely.

Agnes Muthami, a mother of three children aged 19, 14 and 12 says two of her children are introverts while one is an extrovert.

“For the introverts, this period is not a difficult moment for them, but for the extrovert it’s quite a challenge,” says Agnes who is married Josphat Muthami.

She offers: “They all have various responsibilities and chores that they have to attend to in the morning.

Once they are done, they get involved in their private activities. The introverts have a liking for watching movies, which they do once they are done with their studies.”

Keeping children busy 

As for the extroverted child, Agnes says they have had to stop her from going out to socialise.

“We give her school work that channels her attention from her extroverted nature.

By the time she is done, she is exhausted both mentally and physically and she ends up taking a nap. When she wakes up it is usually late,” explains Agnes.

During this time of Covid-19, Agnes says her children have an understanding that it is dangerous to freely interact with people, hence for the months they have been at home, they have adapted to the change.

Caroline Gikunda and her 12-year-old son who is an extrovert. Photo/PD/Kwach Wakhisi

“The girls also do take some time to engage in online dance classes while the boy is taking online Spanish classes.

This has pretty much helped to keep them occupied and reduced boredom,” she says.

Caroline Gikunda, is a mother of an extroverted boy aged 12. “I am glad that his school is expressing its concern by going an extra mile and keeping him on his toes through constant revision online.

It’s even a good thing that his teachers actually reach out on phone, asking how he is coping.

When one Mr Kiburi calls and reminds him to have his education in mind amid the pandemic, those words stick in his mind,” she says.

According to Gikunda, whether a child is an introvert or an extrovert, we can’t overlook the disappointment of unmet expectations or the uncertainty of the untold future.

“As far as he is concerned, he has done his best and can’t take in the possibility of having to repeat the same class another year,” she says. 

Gikunda says since her son is the only child, it’s been tricky when it comes to socialisation as this means going out of the compound to look for his play mates or inviting someone to our home, something that the Ministry of Health guidelines is against.

She offers: “Apart from his school work, I have kept him occupied. We do play some light games.

He loves exercising and he trains me on the same. He has been teaching me how to ride a bicycle.

He has been taking care of his cat and dog, shampooing them more often than necessary, spraying, feeding and taking them for a walk around the compound.

We also do some gardening. He has his own seedbed and certain flower pots that he takes care of.

Other times, he plays play station, watches cartoons and solves word puzzles.”

Caroline Nekesa, a mother of three says while her daughter who is the eldest is an introvert and tends to enjoy her space; her son is extroverted and has to leave the house after every 30 minutes.

“My daughter who is 10 years old would rather spend time playing games on the computer, writing her journal and reading.

She doesn’t even go out to play, not unless we force her to. She hates sharing her room with her brothers who are seven and three years,” says Nekesa.

Managing personalities

According to Mercy Mwasi, a child and adolescent counsellor at Amani Counselling Centre and Training Institute, it is important for parents to identify their children’s personality traits in order to understand them better and help them cope with each other’s personalities as well as other members of the family.

“While the introverted child may seem favoured by this situation (Covid-19 lockdown), they have been forced by circumstances to put up with other members of the family who may be extroverted, a situation which denies them the privacy and quiet they so much desire.

Equally, extroverted children are highly disadvantaged since they would like to explore the outdoors, which is not possible,” explains Mwasi.

The dilemma facing parents currently is how they would combat the existing conditions in favour of the introverted and extroverted children alike in a family setup.

Mwasi offers: “Personalities cannot be changed! However, they can be managed in order for the children with the two differing traits to accommodate one another. 

Both introverted and extroverted children have a measure of dopamine hormone (a brain chemical when released one experiences satisfaction, pleasure, motivation, and drive to keep going), which catalyses irresistible happiness and a desire to explore their world and socialise with others.”

A parent with both introverted and extroverted children in the same house should help them strike a balance in a bid to accommodate each other.

This would strike a middle ground for the co-existence of both personalities and avert unnecessary conflict.

For the introverted children, it would still be important to have that level of personal space they need.

For example, amidst clutter in the house, the parents need to acknowledge the need for such a child to engage in independent activities such as house chores, reading, playing indoors, computer games or watching their favourite TV shows.

However, given the confining conditions of Covid-19, this personal space for introverts should be monitored to avoid over indulgence, which may lead to antisocial behaviour.

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