Bringing Out the Best in Your Introverted Child

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.




What is the Best way to Motivate Children?

The intrinsic motivation to learn about the world around us begins in infancy. This type of motivation can either be encouraged or suppressed by the experiences adults provide for children. Research points to a set of promising approaches that parents can use to promote positive motivation and learning during development.

 Provide incentives only when necessary

Some kids are self-motivated…others need a little push here or there. If you’re wondering how to motivate your child, you might automatically think of rewarding your child for every step they take in the right direction and applying negative consequences for steps they take in the wrong direction. In reality, the best approach is to go easy on the rewards and punishments and cultivate their internal motivation—help them to tune into the feelings of accomplishment and the pride they feel for a job well done.

 Praise the process rather than the outcome

It’s normal to get frustrated when our kids show a lack of motivation. Not knowing how to motivate them gets us even more frustrated! The important point to remember is that there may be a number of reasons for kids’ lack of motivation: lack of confidence, lack of participation in decisions concerning them, frustration, disappointment, and the failures they experience.

Comment on the positive changes you observe in your kids even if those changes do not immediately lead to an improvement. If you notice your children putting in greater effort, tell them. If you see them trying harder, acknowledge it. If you observe them trying a different approach, let them know you’ve noticed. Remember, praise the effort !

 Challenge children just enough

Occasionally, a little peer pressure is not a bad thing. It can push your child to do better in school or in a sport because they want to keep up with their friends. However, watch for when the stress of peer pressure starts to become too much!

Prioritize social interaction during learning

The right socially interactive environment will help children develop strong language skills, creativity, social intelligence, and confidence. Interacting and playing with both peers and adults presents an immense amount of learning opportunities for young children.

Encourage children’s playful exploration

Playful exploration enhances creativity, inspires curiosity, and broadens a child’s immigration – making them more open to new ideas and concepts while teaching them about life, themselves, and others.

Elicit curiosity

By allowing your children to be curious and explore, you teach them confidence and appreciation for everything around them. You also show them the world. Explore with your children, get outdoors, and learn about the world around you. Curiosity will always open doors and lead down new and exciting paths full of adventure and learning.

 Follow their lead – Put your child in the driver’s seat as much as possible

Most people are afraid that if they let their children make their own decisions, they will inevitably make the wrong ones and fail. But just as falling is an inevitable part of learning to walk, making wrong decisions is an inevitable and important part of learning to make good decisions. Children also need opportunities to practice decision making to gain self-confidence. If the activity is not health- or safety-related, let them decide (with your guidance)  and then let them face the natural consequence.

Encourage open and sincere communication

Learn about your child’s interests. Talk to your child about them and listen. It will show your child that you care and that they are free to talk to you about their interests.

Treat your children as unique individuals

We all like doing things we find interesting, and children are no different. They will be more motivated when pursuing activities, they enjoy.

  • Observe your kids to discover their interest.
  • Show interest in their interests, even if those enthusiasm differ from what you would like them to be interested in.
  • Find ways to link their interests with the other skills you would like them to develop. For instance, comics can be a great way to practice reading skills and gain new knowledge; or encouraging your child to practice music lessons with a friend can help motivate an unmotivated child.

 Be spontaneous! break up mundane routines whenever possible

This is not always easy, since routines are important part of family life and child development – however, just like adult life, the occasional fun and spontaneity can bring a needed, fresh spark to the day.

Most importantly, don’t forget…kids will be kids!

4 Ways to Create an Environment that Invites Curiosity

My last blog post broadly covered the topic of educating the whole child.  Today, and in all subsequent posts throughout this year, I will introduce one concept that will explore ways we can inspire and cement deep within a child’s framework the confidence to achieve their dreams, regardless of their prevailing circumstances.

Very early on in life, we are forced to adopt false narratives such as the perception that our aspirations are “unattainable,” “far-fetched,” or “unrealistic” simply because they seem out of reach for whatever reason at the moment.   Rather than being encouraged to dream, we are often trained to be “practical” – we are not taught to look at failures as success waiting to happen, or to consider barriers as challenges that will teach us more of what we need to know to succeed the next time around.  Over time, we run the danger of losing our imagination, our curious nature, and the ability to dream.

Creating an environment that invites curiosity is essential to nurturing future generations.  Of course, if we are to achieve this ideal as parents or caregivers, we need to have actionable steps to champion our children in this way as they navigate their world – which is often as demanding and as complex as our own “grown-up” lives.

Storytelling…your child’s first passport to the world

Stories provide children with a view into new and exciting worlds of characters, places, cultures, and traditions.

Storytelling enhances creativity, inspires curiosity, and broadens a child’s immigration – making them more open to new ideas and concepts while teaching them about life, themselves, and others.

Sadly, children along various dimensions of diversity rarely see themselves represented in the characters of the books that they read.  They are not only besieged by false narratives about themselves, but positive alternatives are seldom portrayed to challenge those untruths.

This is why representation matters, and the stories that we tell should be richly diverse.

Children’s early experiences shape what they imagine to be possible for people who look like them, live where they live, or come from where they came from. Simply put, children determine what they can become and what they can achieve based on the examples and role models they are exposed to.

I write this not from the perspective of an educator or a child psychologist, as I have no relevant credentials to speak of, but rather from the perspective of a parent—a parent wishing to instigate in his own child a curiosity for the richness of the world, the nuanced interplay of creativity, trial and error, diverse experiences, failure, and ultimately allowing him to create his own version of success.

Suspend judgment

I believe a fundamental practice, albeit extremely difficult one, is to try to suspend judgment of our children- their thoughts, their ideas, and their actions. We ourselves come with a set of preconceived notions of how things “should be” based on our own upbringing and/or our expectations of who our children should become. However, it is imperative we learn to subdue this overwhelming needed in order to truly allow them space to foster their own imaginations. Obviously, this will require monk-level patience and self-control!

Create space for imperfection

Perfection is curiosity’s kryptonite.  We know too well the common mantra “no one is perfect.” However, I believe we still inherently expect that of ourselves.  We want our environments to be perfect, our actions, our thoughts, our parenting, and ultimately our children. However, this simply cannot be, and in fact, it’s counter intuitive to learning and creating.

And so, for us, the action here is to make peace with the “messy,” the “imperfect,” and the “failures”, because therein lies the key to true deep learning and boundless discoveries.

Paint your children’s experiences with diversity

As humans, it is natural to gravitate towards the familiar and the easy. After all, this is where our comfort zone keeps us well-insulated from anything perceived as “threatening” or challenging.

As parents and caregivers, we have a responsibility to instill in our children a healthy appreciation for all things that contrast with their own reality (food, cultures, people, ideas, places, styles, etc.)

Painting our children’s experience with diversity starts with painting our own.  This is a moment for all of us to look in the mirror and consider our own false narratives, learned limitations or simply areas in our life where we have a homogeneous existence.

As parents and caregivers, we also must become curious about the world around us and develop a healthy appreciation for difference.

Changing the world as we know it starts with reflecting on our lived experiences, the narratives we have adopted and how that translates to how we show up in the world.

It’s about the environments we create to support unhindered growth and the realization of dreams through exploration; and as we  consider educating the whole child, it’s about the aspects of humanity we impart along the way.

If we sow these little seeds now, who knows what the resulting forest will look like in its time.



Educating the Whole Child

Learning the ropes in life is a complex process for a child, with a myriad of interconnecting concepts they must master.  For parents, care givers, and teachers, fostering the environment in which children can readily learn these concepts can be just as perplexing – especially in our new normal of COVID school closures.

Children learn best when they are within a safe, positive, and supported environment that is devoid of trauma or fear.  Negative emotions such as self-doubt, and anxiety inhibit their ability to take on any new information and learn in a meaningful way.

Likewise, when children are raised or taught in environments where they are supported when mistakes are made, where they are encouraged in developing their interpersonal skills, empowered to explore ideas, and where trust is built between themselves and their caregivers or teachers, they become far more capable and successful in all areas of life.

Social, emotional, and interpersonal lessons are as beneficial to children as what they learn academically. Encouraging them to be brave and test new ideas or situations requires them to feel confident in their ability to handle unknowns successfully, to relate to others in a positive way, to explore new concepts and ideas with less fear, to communicate in a healthy manner and to regulate their emotions.

To create an environment where we are educating the whole child, let’s first consider our goals, and then we will define some basic things that will pave our way there.

We are aiming to:

  1. Foster a supportive and encouraging environment through strong relationships with family and friends.
  2. Design situations in which children can relate concepts they learn to everyday life (e.g., implementing math when baking or cooking).
  3. Help children develop habits, mindsets, and skills that enable them to become competent in social and emotional situations. For example, when friends or siblings challenge them for their toys or want to voice alternative ideas to their own, they are able to communicate or advocate for themselves in a healthy way.
  4. Look for ways to enhance their learning by introducing a variety of experiences. Visiting museums, theatres, or even sites of interest will expose them to new and positive things. It will help to broaden their horizons and interests, as well as impacting on their personality.

And now we must consider how we could implement these things through some simple concepts:

  • Confidence – by encouraging them to keep trying when they fail, and by consistently reminding them of their worth in this world.
  • Cooperation – by creating situations through games and activities where they have to listen and cooperate with others for the task to be a success or enjoyable.
  • Curiosity – by exposing them to a wide variety of experiences to help to foster their natural curiosity.
  • Communication – by encouraging them to express and accurately represent their ideas, feelings, and knowledge in different situations. This requires active listening from caregivers or parents where no idea is too silly, and children are given the time and space to develop.

Hopefully, with a little conscious effort in these areas, we can help our children grow into secure, empathetic, and open-minded adults that feels confident in their unique contributions to the world around them.

Happy New Year – and I look forward to taking this journey with you in 2022.