In a world where extroversion is applauded, there is still a misunderstanding about what being an introvert means. Introverts are not shy or quiet. They just get their energy from their quiet time or ‘alone time’ while extroverts get their energy from being around lots of people. Introverts also prefer talking in smaller groups because they like connecting better with people.
Parents are understandably worried if their child seems too shy and quiet but it is not a bad thing at all. An introvert’s ability to focus on tasks with sustained interest helps them master the things they set their sights on!
Here are some ways to parent an introverted child and equip them with skills to survive in an extroverted world:
1. Let them express feelings their own way
When an introvert is quiet, it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong but it also doesn’t mean they are feeling ok. An introvert child usually internalizes and keeps things to themselves. A way to manage this is to provide them with a way to communicate their feelings without doing so verbally such as drawing, writing in a journal and even writing letters.
2. Let them know beforehand who they are going to meet
Introverts do not do well with small talks but can talk passionately about the things they like. Before your child meets new people, let them know who they are meeting and how many people may be there so they can prepare themselves.
Another helpful thing to do is to practice a few questions with them that helps turn the conversation towards their interests.
3. Get to the venue early
Big groups and crowds can suck an introvert child’s energy like a vampire. More people may excite extroverts but it overwhelms an introverted child. To help them adapt, try to get to the location early before the most of the crowd comes in.
This is to help your child familiarize themselves with the location and locate important spots such as the washroom or couches (potential place to recharge their energy!). It’s also helpful to let them in with the agenda of the day.
4. They’ll talk when they are ready
Parents are excited about how their child’s day went but for an introverted child, hanging out with lots of kids is fun but also tiring. At the end of the school day, let them sit for awhile before asking about their day instead of bombarding questions in the car.
5. Let them mingle their own way
Introverts may prefer recharging during alone times but it doesn’t mean they don’t like people in general. Set up playdates instead of playgroups for them. This also provides them with a way to learn how to socialize and as they get better, they can branch out into larger groups.
Be patient though because just like any other skills, it takes time to learn and refine it. Be encouraging and supportive as they navigate their way in social circles.
6. Introverts like sports and games too!
There are sports and games out there that are not team-oriented that your child could try such as swimming and tennis. Sometimes they like team-oriented sports that have smaller groups so it’s important to respect what they want to participate in.
On the other hand, parents should encourage introverts to try new things. Sometimes all they need is just a little more support and encouragement!