There are generally two types of kids in this world. Those who are outgoing and social and those who are shy and thoughtful. If your child is more like the latter, you probably have a young introvert. If they are struggling with being this way, you’ll naturally want to help them out.
At a birthday party, your child sits alone instead of joining the other kids in the bouncy house. When you get home, your child immediately heads out to jump alone on the trampoline in the backyard. Why didn’t they just have that fun at the party? Your idea of fun is not your child’s idea of a good time, pure and simple. They aren’t trying to be difficult. It’s just the way they are.
If you aren’t an introvert like your child, it can be tough to understand why they’re seemingly always in retreat. If they’re always moving away from things, how will they thrive in a world that encourages running toward them?
The first step is to remind yourself — on a regular basis — that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a child who is worn out by too much social interaction. Still, that may not stop you from wanting to try new ways to “bring them out of their shell.” Keep in mind that the only way to help your child grow is to water them where they’re planted. Listed below are a few things you can do to help your young introvert flourish.
Give Them Something to Talk About
Smartphones can prove to be something of a mixed bag for introverts. They can use them to avoid talking to others by gaming, surfing the internet, and scrolling through social media. Or they can be used to strike up an actual conversation with someone.
For kids, one great option is the Gabb Wireless phone. There are no apps, internet connectivity, or social media so introverted kids can’t fall down those rabbit holes. The absence of these typical smartphone digital dangers makes Gabb phones a safe device for kids of all stripes.
Use the unlimited talk and text features to gently encourage your child to engage in dialog with family and friends. Your calls to your child can teach them how to carry on a conversation and about phone etiquette. Practice will help them feel more at ease with the art of the chat.
Using a phone might also raise their comfort level with talking to other people. They may feel more in control knowing they can end a conversation and hang up when they want. If they don’t feel like using their voice, they can text instead.
Providing a safe smartphone for kids might provide a crucial halfway point between in-person relationships and none at all. Significantly, they’ll also have a smartphone “just like every other kid” they know. Get your child started, be patient, and soon enough they’ll be delivering witty banter, on their own terms, with the best of them.
Find Healthy Modes of Expression
Introverts may have an even greater need to express themselves than extroverts. They just aren’t likely to do this as part of what many consider normal social routines. To help your introvert flourish, help them find healthy ways to do it.
Your child is probably a deep thinker, so let them use their introspection to write or journal. If they’re musical or artistic, give them tools to create visual or musical works of art. Encourage them to meditate, exercise, run, or bike to facilitate the greater sense of calm they crave.
Since solitary activities appeal to introverts, putting on headphones and firing up a gaming console is especially attractive to them. However, numerous studies have linked excessive gaming to depression, addiction, and aggressive behavior in kids. Other studies have shown they improve problem-solving skills and focus.
Encouraging your child to read might be the less controversial solitary and sedentary activity. We all tend to disappear into our own worlds when reading a book. This makes it the perfect activity for introverts. Your child can explore and expand their world in a calm and stress-free way.
Although your child can engage in any of these activities in the solace of their own room, they don’t have to. Provide appealing spaces for them where other family members typically hang out, such as the kitchen table or the family room floor. You and your child can both retreat into a good time while sitting next to one another on the couch.
Understand, Accept, and Celebrate Your Little Introvert
Your young introvert’s brain is wired differently than the brains of extroverts. Understand that fact and you’ve taken the first step toward helping your child understand it as well.
Medically speaking, it all boils down to dopamine, the pleasure-generating chemical in the brain that motivates us to seek more of whatever triggered its release. Your child’s brain has fewer dopamine receptors which mean they get overloaded easily. The extrovert brain wants more and more while the introvert brain is overwhelmed with less.
This organic root is real. It’s not an imaginary condition they’re making up. In fact, your introvert may become physically ill if not given enough quiet time. That’s why it’s important for their physical and mental health to give them quiet time and space.
It can also help your young introvert if you seek to inform their teachers, coaches, babysitters, and mentors about this personality type. Teachers often attempt to “draw out” a quiet student by, for example, calling on them frequently. If you understand why an introvert is quiet, you’ll also understand why this common approach isn’t a sound strategy.
Introverts are deep thinkers, good listeners, highly independent, and profoundly empathetic. These are all characteristics to be celebrated, not ridiculed. Commend your child for these qualities. Applaud the way they lend themselves to relationships. In a world that could use more kindness, your child may be what it needs more of, not less.
Nurture Their Nature
Nurture your young introvert wisely. They may flourish into successful adults. Your child might be the next Michael Jordan, Meryl Streep, Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, or Rosa Parks. Every one of these famous people shared the same wiring as your own introvert.
Every child has unique strengths. Working with them instead of against them is how you raise happy, well-adjusted kids. Play to your introvert’s special traits and they’ll find ways to manage life in an increasingly social world.
Above all, respect your child’s need for privacy while encouraging social interaction. Nudge them when necessary, yes, but refrain from shoving them into doing something you think should be fun. Push too hard and you risk further withdrawal.
All kids need the support and encouragement of their parents. Just remember that how you deliver those to your introverted child might need to be tempered. Nurture them with love, sensitivity, and respect, and your little introvert will blossom.