My six year-old son is very extroverted, and prefers to play with someone. My three year-old daughter is strong-willed but introverted, and prefers to play on her own. When they play together, my son is very controlling trying to maintain my daughter's participation in his activity of choice, which inevitably leads to conflicts. We are working on teaching him more sociable ways to play, but the bottom line is that in the mean time, playing together is very stressful on my daughter, and playing apart is very difficult for my son.

We give him several chances to make it work in the same room, but after that we usually end up making him play in his room for a while. This gives respite to my daughter, but my son perceives it as a punishment. To a certain degree, that's okay, since he is the instigator and the one invading his sister's space. However, giving my daughter enough alone time makes my son's perceived punishment too harsh, but reducing the time apart to make the punishment reasonable doesn't give my daughter enough alone time.

So you can see our dilemma. What ideas do people have for isolating an extremely extroverted child without him perceiving it as a punishment? Put another way, how do you help an extremely extroverted child learn to enjoy playing on his own?

  • 3
    You could play with him while allowing you daughter to play on her own. You could use the opportunity to model appropriate social play.
    – Kit Z. Fox
    Commented Apr 12, 2013 at 13:01

1 Answer 1


I think there are two separate factors here: one is imposing an appropriate amount of alone time as a consequence for an infraction, which is easy, because after the appropriate amount of time on his own, one or other of you (parents) can join him so he's not alone but is also not bugging his sister.

The harder question is how to get an extrovert child to be happy spending more time alone and how to balance the needs between one extrovert child and one introvert child. I think making sure the introvert child has some space they can retreat to (and no-one is allowed in without permission) is a key here, so they don't have to be bugged by the more extrovert child. I would also encourage the extrovert child to spend more time playing outside - then other neighbourhood children might see this and come out and join in, without imposing on anyone else.

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