How to Raise an Introverted Child
In our extremely social, exhibitionistic world, being an introvert can be tough. Mighty Mommy shares 8 strategies for raising an introverted child to be a successful, confident adult.
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Having 8 children means dealing with 8 different characters, learning styles, academic and sports abilities, body types, and of course personalities. Not one of them is the same as the others, which I think is a positive thing.
Some of my kids are extremely outgoing, like myself, and others are much more reserved like their father. But no matter what, we have always emphasized each child's individuality.
For instance, our oldest son, now 19, is introverted and is probably never going to change.
Introverted children are often mistaken for shy children, but but being introverted and being shy aren't the same thing. Lucky for us we have a pediatrician who recognized this and helped us understand the difference when our son was very young.
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When he was only 2, we noticed that it wasn’t easy for him to socialize with other kids or adults. He preferred to spend time alone looking at books or coloring or engaging in other individual activities rather than eagerly seeking out companionship. Because his older sister was extremely sociable, we thought that modeling her ways of interacting with others would eventually rub off on him. Wrong!
As parents, we all want our kids to be well-adjusted, outgoing, and social. But although we can guide and help them cope better in social situations, we aren't going to change the nature of an introverted child. And that doesn’t have to be a bad thing at all. In fact, your introverted child can still find enjoyment in our highly social world if you just relax and learn how to help him be himself without the pressure of fitting into society’s expectations.
Today, Mighty Mommy has 8 tips that will help your introverted child have an amazing childhood which will help build a solid foundation for when he leaves the nest.
Tip #1: Introverts Need Alone Time to Recharge
When my son was younger and we had a very busy social day (filled with trips to the zoo and to routine appointments), he would fall apart as the day went on if he couldn’t have some alone time to regroup and refocus. Introverted kids need time to process the activities, interactions, conversations, information, and their emotions from the day. So we built in routine alone time for him every day, even on the weekends. In fact, at school they even incorporated 15 minutes a day for him so that he could work alone and just gather his thoughts.
Having this time of solitude every day is what helped my son better handle, and even enjoy, the time he spent doing group activities.
Tip #2: Help Your Introverted Child Express Feelings
Introverted kids often internalize their feelings and keep them bottled up because it’s too uncomfortable for them to let it all out, especially if it’s something they might be embarrassed about.
Understand that your introverted child’s feelings may not be obvious. To help with communication, give your child a vehicle for self-expression, such as drawing a picture, writing about it in a journal, or acting out the situation with stuffed animals or dolls. Even an outlet like pounding blocks with a toy hammer or vigorously tossing a pillow against the wall for a few minutes can release tension or be a venue for opening up about something that is bothering them.
Tip #3: Mobile Technology Can Help Introverted Teens Communicate
As your child gets older and hits the tween and teen years, texting and the internet offer a great opportunity for the introvert to connect because they can do it in measured doses and from behind a screen where it feels safer.
My eldest son and I text every day about everything ranging from what he needs at the store, to how he did on a big test. This affords him a safety net to share exactly what he wants on his own terms, and usually, he’ll open up more with me because he feels comfortable doing it in the privacy of his “space” without me there trying to engage him for more info than he’s comfortable divulging.
Some days he gives more than others, but when anything is really bothering him or that he’s really excited about, he is able to give more details via text because he’s not pressured. It might not be quite the same as chatting in person, but I’ve accepted that this is what he’s comfortable with and it works for us.
See also: Keeping Kids Safe on the Internet
When you’re blogging or tweeting, you don’t have to wade through small talk before you get to main point. You have time to think before you speak (or type). You can connect one mind to another, free from the distractions of social cues and pleasantries. Instant messaging may also provide just the outlet introverted teens need for sharing feelings and connecting with peers without the embarrassment of exposed emotions.
Closely monitoring the friends and contacts your kids engage with online can minimize the threat of impropriety. As with any web-based service, it’s a matter of balancing the benefits with the risks.