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Helping Children Navigate Family Gatherings

With the holiday season approaching you may be starting to wonder: “How will my child behave at family gatherings?” As parents, we want to be able to enjoy the festivities with our family, but we also want to be accommodating of our children’s socio-emotional needs in accordance with their personality traits. Introversion and extroversion can both be challenging in new social situations. Let’s examine some tips for helping introverted and extroverted children navigate family gatherings this holiday season.

Introverted Children: Recognition and Support

Firstly, it’s important to know if your child is introverted or extroverted. These personality traits strongly dictate people’s experiences of social situations, so identifying this is the first step to helping your child feel safe and comfortable at a holiday party.

Introverted individuals tend to:

These are some common ways that an introverted child processes his/her environment. Notice how many of these needs and characteristics can become problematic at a big family gathering, where personal space is scarce and excited interactions are likely. Here are some tips for supporting introverted children during family parties:

Extroverted Children: Recognition and Support

It might be hard to believe, but extroverted children can struggle in social situations also. They, too, can be timid and in need of quiet time. Or, they can sometimes act in seemingly inappropriate ways because they are trying to process their emotions, thoughts, and environment.

Extroverted individuals tend to:

Here are some tips on how to be supportive to extroverted children before a family gathering:

It is important to remember that our children follow our guidance and direction. If we become dysregulated, the children will sense it and become dysregulated themselves. Also, remember to place your children’s needs above the needs or wants of other relatives; it’s okay to intervene if you notice that your child is feeling uncomfortable or overwhelmed by an interaction.

The key point is to remember the reason everyone decided to get together. If the adults are supportive, the children will be attentive to these things and enjoy themselves, too. Have fun and enjoy your holidays!

If you or a family member needs behavioral and/or mental health treatment, but aren’t sure where to start, read more here or call 888-764-4161. We’re here to support!

About the Expert

Dr. Karen Owen-Jiménez is a bilingual clinical psychologist with PM Behavioral Health. She completed her undergraduate studies in the Interamerica University of Puerto Rico, Metropolitan Campus with a B.A in Political Science, and pursued her graduate studies at Carlos Albizu University. After a year of private practice in PR, Dr. Owen moved to NJ and completed her fellowship experience in Infant Development at the NYS Institute of Basic Research in Staten Island, NY. Dr. Owen provides therapeutic services in a virtual platform working with patients with various mood disorders and complex trauma.