Hello, parents (and specifically parents of introverted children looking for some guidance)!
As a mother of two, and one of whom is extremely introverted, I understand the joys and also the challenges of raising children. Every child is unique and special, but here I will be focusing on introverted children because they are the ones who are in need of a little extra support while exploring the world around them. It’s important to understand that being introverted is certainly not a flaw of theirs, but rather a personality trait.
By simply understanding and supporting your introverted child, you can help them thrive and grow into confident individuals.
So, let's dive in and explore how we can create a nurturing environment for our introverted little ones:
Introverted children tend to draw their energy from quiet activities and may feel drained after spending too much time in busy or social environments. In fact, large social settings can cause an introverted child to feel anxious, act out, whine, or feel overstimulated. For them, it’s crucial that they understand events and situations prior to attending them (surprises are never a great idea).
For example: If you are taking your child to the doctor to get a shot, talk them through where you are taking them, how the appointment will go, and what the doctor will be doing. You can even use stuffed animals as props to help prepare your child in a way they can visualize. Introverted children approach the world in a different way so taking extra time to explain social or unsettling situations can help better prepare them.
Creating a Safe Space at Home:
As parents, we can create a safe and supportive environment at home that allows our introverted children to thrive. This can be a cozy reading nook or a dedicated art corner to recharge and express themselves. Many introverted children have an amazingly wild imagination and they thrive when able to express themselves through art and play.
Encourage activities that align with their interests, such as painting, writing, or building puzzles. When my child starts to use her imagination, I will sometimes join in and seeing her eyes light up with excitement is priceless. If she starts playing Library with her stuffed animals, I will step in with a book and ask her to create a library card for me. Something this simple can help her gain confidence in using her voice and skills.
“ Toys are children’s words and play is their language “
Creating Support in Public Settings:
Introverted children take more time to get comfortable in social and public settings than most children. Patience is key! They will want to observe before jumping in. Arriving early can help ease your child into an event, whereas rushing in late will only cause more fears.
Sit with your child and allow them to ask questions or even help them meet a new friend sitting nearby. Some children may find it hard to speak in large settings so practice responses together. For example, if they are joining a new camp, you can practice speaking bravely on the drive there. Simple phrases or made up songs can help guide them:
“ Using my words is like pressing play on a wonderful story”
“ My voice is powerful, let it reach the sky”
“ My voice is a superhero cape that helps me express myself.”
While introverted children may not seek out social interactions, it's still so important for them to develop social skills and make connections with peers. Encourage your child to engage in small group activities or a playdate with friends.
Also, find activities that allow them to slowly build confidence over activities they may "get lost in.” Activities like art camp, horse lessons, reading groups, and rock climbing are just a few ideas. Sometimes pushing your child out of their comfort zone is just what they need to succeed. They may lack the confidence at first but they will be so proud of themselves in the end.
Drop the Labels:
I have learned that navigating introversion in my child has been a huge learning experience and at times seems harder on me as a mama than my child. I have been in so many social situations where a stranger or friend will ask my child a question, followed by an awkward silence from my child. I was always quick to answer for her and immediately filled the air with, “She is shy.”
Well, labeling your child as shy can have a lasting effect and hinder their growth and confidence. By labeling them shy, we are telling them what they are instead of what they are feeling. Instead of saying, “Oh, she is shy...” try using the phrase, “It looks like she is feeling shy right now.” That simple change can really be beneficial for you both!
Respecting personal boundaries is crucial when nurturing an introverted child. Encourage family and friends to understand and respect your child's need for alone time. Teach your child to express their boundaries politely. Empower them to say "no thanks" when they need a break or feel overwhelmed.
By honoring their boundaries, we foster a sense of self-assurance and teach them the importance of self-care. Help them learn relaxation and breathing techniques for times they are alone in social situations and need to calm down.
While it’s so important to celebrate your child’s successes, I have learned that also watering down the excitement can help. When we overreact to them using their voice in public or stepping out of their comfort zone, we can create a reaction that may force them to return to their old ways.
Allow them time to explore expressing themselves boldly without a public announcement of excitement from mom (ha!). I have found that 'keeping my cool’ and acknowledging how proud I was of her in that particular situation at bedtime or later in the day is key.
Introverted children may not fit society's extroverted expectations, and that's okay! Each child is unique, and it's our job as parents to embrace their individuality and provide the necessary support.
A quote I’ve come across lately and love is: “Quiet kids tend to have the loudest minds,” and I certainly find this to be true.
If you are a parent who is concerned about your introverted child, working closely with a therapist at Marble Wellness can be a game-changer. Our therapists can help you and your child develop strategies to gradually overcome their anxieties and improve their ability to communicate.
As parents we tend to get that 'intuitive feeling' when things may need more attention. If your child seems to have a severe case of introversion or anxieties/fears please have a talk with your child’s pediatrician. Some children could be battling an anxiety disorder or even selective mutism.
Let's work to celebrate the beauty of introversion in our children. By understanding their needs, creating a safe space, and encouraging self-expression, we help them develop a strong sense of self and navigate this busy and wild world with confidence.
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