Identifying Extrovert Behavior in Children

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Children show behavior from an early age that is extroverted or introverted. Most people believe that an extrovert is a person who is friendly and outgoing. While that may be true, that is not the full meaning of extroversion. An extrovert is a person who is energized by being around other people. This is the opposite of an introvert who is energized by being alone. Learn how an extroverted child may behave.

Qualities of an Extrovert

Extroverts enjoy social situations and even seek them out since they enjoy being around people. In school, you can expect an extroverted child to enjoy working on a team project or in a study group rather than alone. Extroverts tend to "fade" when alone and can easily become bored without other people around. When they must work on a task alone, it can be helpful for you to be nearby to encourage them and to let them tell you about what they are doing.

Extroverts often think best when they are talking.

When given a chance, an extrovert will talk with someone else rather than sit alone and think. In fact, extroverts tend to think as they speak, unlike introverts who are far more likely to think before they speak. Concepts just don't seem real to them unless they can talk about them; reflecting on them isn't enough. You may discover that your child will talk to anybody and everybody when you are out in public.

They can be quick to start talking to other children and seem to make new friends quickly. An extroverted child would prefer to play with other children than playing alone. They are more likely to enjoy team sports and club activities. Extroverts may spend more time on social media and have more friends and followers than introverts, keeping up communication with others even at a distance.

While your child may show extroverted behavior in some situations, studies show that how a person reacts to a specific situation is less predictable. The immediate pressure of the situation can overcome general tendencies. You may think your child will love to go to a party, but discover she doesn't want to go due to the specific situation.

The degree of extroverted behavior varies more within a person than between people, so you can expect that your child will be strongly social in some circumstances and less in other situations.

How Extroverted Kids Behave

Because extroverts are energized by interaction with other people, extroverted children may need some time to wind down after having spent time socializing with other children. For example, if an extroverted child attends a party, they can come home still quite excited and may want to talk about the party, if not with their parents, then with their friends. If the party is in the evening, the extroverted child may have a hard time getting to sleep because they are still full of energy.

An extroverted child may be quiet and get bored easily when they have to spend too much time alone. Once they are around others, however, they may immediately perk up. This suggests that extroverted children, especially those who are gifted, may be best served in situations that involve group work, collaboration, and social interaction, particularly at school.

Can an Extrovert Be Shy?

What many people don't realize is that an extrovert can also be shy. Shyness is another name for social anxiety. This can be difficult because extroverts really do crave company, but the shyness can make it difficult to succeed in interactions with people they don't know. Shy, extroverted children are those who are probably most in need of help overcoming their shyness.

Some shy extroverts do very well in organized group situations in which they can be socially engaged without needing to come up with topics of conversation or reasons to connect. Examples of this type of activity include team sports, debate club, or community theater.

A Word From Verywell

While extroversion and introversion can help you categorize your child's usual behavior, it won't predict it in every circumstance. Remember that this is a spectrum and at times even the most extreme extrovert will want some quiet time to be alone or may want to avoid a social situation.

3 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Fishman I, Ng R, Bellugi U. Do extraverts process social stimuli differently from introvertsCogn Neurosci. 2011;2(2):67-73. doi:10.1080/17588928.2010.527434

  2. Duffy KA, Chartrand TL. The Extravert Advantage: How and When Extraverts Build Rapport With Other People. Psychol Sci. 2015;26(11):1795-1802. doi:10.1177/0956797615600890

  3. National Institute of Mental Health. Social Anxiety Disorder: More Than Just Shyness.

By Carol Bainbridge
Carol Bainbridge has provided advice to parents of gifted children for decades, and was a member of the Indiana Association for the Gifted.