In a world geared towards extroverts, it can be a challenge to raise an introverted child. Concerns over social development, self-esteem and confidence can be harder to map when your kid seems more content to sit back and watch the action rather than run headlong into it. Raising an introvert can be especially challenging for extrovert parents. Today we’ll cover some ways to help parents raising little introverts to be happy and healthy.
Accept and Embrace
Acknowledge that your child has a different experience than you do. They are unique, they are special, they see the world from a different place and interact with the world differently than you do. Embrace who they are, celebrate who they are and learn to adjust your own expectations and reactions. There is nothing unusual or shameful about introversion. Your child’s temperament is biological, they’re wired this way. Reach out to child development professionals for help if you find yourself struggling with this.
Don’t try to shove a round peg into a square hole
Let you child lead when it comes to their comfort levels. If they’d rather sit in a corner and read a book during a large family gathering, don’t push them to interact. This can lead to overstimulation, crankiness and tantrums! Respect their space and encourage relatives to do the same. Kids will interact with their family and friends, just not necessarily at the level of engagement or excitement others expect them to. Take it slow when introducing introverts to new people and situations.
Alone, Not Lonely
Extroverts will tell you they thrive off of social interaction and NEEEEED to have social interaction. Many introverted adults will tell you they much rather prefer their own company to others and need to recharge solo after social interaction. The same can be true of introverted children. Though one might assume a child who spends a lot of time alone would be lonely, they may be perfectly content with their quiet life. Talk to your child. Check in with them and confirm whether they are happy. If they exhibit symptoms of depression or withdraw that are unusual, then it’s time to address what’s going on.
Introverts can struggle to feel heard. Ask questions that draw them out of their shell. Listen to what they have to say, reflect it back to them and engage with them on their level.
Cultivate Interests, Skills and Passions
Though more reserved, introverted children may have a rich inner life and enjoy solo activities like coloring, gaming, crafts and reading. Encourage these activities and help them explore other skills and activities while still monitoring their social development and allowing them to explore healthy social interactions that include these activities in shorter periods. If they love a certain craft, find a small local class or an online interactive class that allows them some social interaction while indulging their creativity. Ask if you can join them in their activity or if they’d prefer to engage with their hobby alone.
Don’t take it personally
Don’t take it personally or get offended when your child needs alone time. They’ll come to you when they feel recharged and need a cuddle or to just reconnect. So long as it’s not interfering with daily family life or responsibilities, and their need for space is being met, go with the flow.