It’s not unusual for parents to worry about their introverted children and even wonder if their behavior is mentally and emotionally healthy. However, introverted children may not be depressed or anxious at all. – just more internally focused than average. So don’t take it personally when your child needs time alone and don’t label your child as “shy”.
The more you embrace their natural introverted nature, the happier and secure your child will become.
Here are 6 simple ways bond with and support your introverted child.
Understand the true meaning of Introversion
It’s not true that introverts hate social interaction and avoid it entirely. By definition, introverts are easily tired by socializing and need plenty of downtime to recharge their energy. Introverted children have a rich and vivid inner world, and they rely on this inner world and their inner resource to guide them, rather than turning to outside sources for validation and support.
Unfortunately, having a rich inner world can also be a double-edged sword, because it can lead introverted kids to feel isolated and alienated from their peers. They might be seen as “weird” for having a troupe of imaginary friends or wanting to spend their entire recess period alone. It’s important for parents of introverted children to help them see how their quiet nature can be a source of strength.
Support your child: Help your child cultivate their passions
Although quiet, introverted children are extremely curious about the world, and they’re not afraid to ask the big questions about life. They want to know why something is the way it is, how something works, or what an event or experience means on a deeper level. At times, they surprise the adults in their lives with their level of creativity and problem-solving, seemingly possessing wisdom beyond their years.
Respect Your Child’s Preferences
When it comes to crowds and play groups, introverted kids will likely be found hanging out along the edges (much like introverted adults at a big party!). They may appear hesitant and cautious to join in, but it’s not necessarily because they are afraid; their thoughts and feelings draws them inward, and so introverted children tend to make decisions based on their own standards rather than following the crowd.
Introverted children don’t do things just to fit in; they look before they leap and they often march to the beat of their own drum, choosing their own music, clothes, shows, books, and hobbies based on their interests and not on what’s trendy.
Although this can put them at odds with their peers, it can also be a positive aspect of their nature because it means they’re less vulnerable to peer pressure.
Introduce your child to new people and situations slowly
Just like introverted adults, introverted children warm up to new people slowly, and you won’t see their “real” self-right away. They may be quiet and reserved when first meeting someone, but as they become more comfortable in that person’s presence, they open up. Often, their aim in conversation is to better understand their own or someone else’s inner world; they value connecting and really getting to know people on a deeper level. They may work hard to try to understand human nature and what makes someone “tick.”
Make sure your child feels heard
like introverted adults, introverted kids are generally good listeners, paying attention and remembering what the other person says, although they may avoid small talk and turn away if they aren’t interested in a topic. They may speak softly, occasionally pause to search for the right words, and stop talking if interrupted. They may look away when speaking to gather their thoughts but make eye contact when listening.
Talk to your child’s teachers about their introversion
Particularly in Western society, extroversion has become the ideal. We praise those who are outgoing and assertive, and we emphasize group acceptance and external accomplishments over quiet reflection and careful decision-making. It can be argued that this new standard of extroversion has been incorporated into every institution that introverted children will encounter in their lifetimes, from daycare to preschool to college.
Driven by the scarcity and exorbitant cost of childcare (an entire subject of its own) at a younger and younger age, children are spending time in daycares and preschools. When they begin formal schooling, they may spend 6-7 hours a day with up to 30 other children in a classroom — with little to no break from group work and socializing. All this can be quite challenging for introverts.
Keep in mind that children are constantly learning to understand themselves and their place in the world. While it may appear that a child has introverted or extroverted tendencies, it is important not to label children or put them in a box. As they grow, their preferences may (and will) likely change.