Are you concerned because your child is not outgoing and has few friends? Do you want your child to spend time with others, instead of sitting alone? Some parents fear that when their kids are alone more than with others, something is wrong.
They don’t want their children to be shy or stay away from social interactions. However, they sometimes don’t realize that a child may be introverted rather than shy, and that’s okay.
Characteristics of Introverted People
Take a look at it and determine if your child possesses most of the following characteristics:
- Prefers to listen instead of talking much
- Doesn’t have many close friends
- Communicates with family members, but doesn’t talk to strangers
- Prefers to be alone or likes activities with less people
- Prefers to stay in a closed room
- Enjoys creative things
- Gets annoyed in the company of other people after spending too much time with them
- Feels embarrassed when makes a mistake in front of others
- Doesn’t like to share feelings much
This short list will give you an idea of whether your child or teen is introverted.
You can help shy kids become outgoing – You can give them confidence to make more friends. But, you just can’t change the nature of introverted children. There is nothing wrong with being introverted.
If your child is not communicating their wants and needs, that is more than just being introverted. Please consult with your child’s doctor and school team.
How Should Adults React and Respond to Introverted Children?
1. Treat introverted children like all children (with compassion & respect).
Every individual deserves respect. If introverted children are treated negatively for just being themselves, this will affect them both mentally and emotionally.
Avoid labeling your child as shy or nervous, as this could hurt their feelings and impact their self-esteem and belief about themselves. They also may disagree with that perception of them.
Introverted children can be amazingly interesting and thoughtful. As soon as they get comfortable, they can be great to talk to. Treat them with care and respect, and realize the fact that there is nothing wrong with them.
2. Hone your child’s passions and talents.
Check if your child (or student) is interested in a particular activity. If your child likes drawing, playing soccer, writing stories, or anything else, encourage them and help them enhance their passion and talent. This will naturally build their confidence and self-esteem, which can make communication more natural, and therefore comfortable.
A passion or talent also gives your child something to talk about that brings them joy. So, find out what their passion is and help them cultivate it. You can also connect your child with other children who prefer similar activities (following COVID-19 restrictions).
3. Go to events and parties early.
Introverted children often prefer to be alone. When they see a crowd, they can get nervous and irritated. It is not pleasurable for your child to experience this at a party. Therefore, it is recommended that you take them to the party early. When people arrive later, your child will feel as though the people are joining in with him/her.
Go early on the first day of school so your child can see their classroom and teachers, and find out where the bathroom is before the day starts.
Teachers can help their students feel comfortable when they come in early by providing a calm, friendly, and welcoming greeting to their students, along with offering activities that peak the student’s interests and curiosity, and a comfortable workspace.
4. Let them go at their own pace
Don’t expect or pressure your child/student to communicate confidently with new people. Allow them to interact in a way that feels natural and comfortable to them. Avoid pressuring your child with statements like “speak up,” “stop being so shy.”
Also, avoid making statements to new people about your child/student such as “they’re so quiet” or “they’re so shy.” You don’t need to explain your child’s behavior to them.
Introverted people generally need to know someone very well before they interact with them confidently. An introverted child may not like small-talk or chit-chat that they don’t consider meaningful.
They often will develop a relationship first, before they share something important. So, let them set take the lead on their own communication.
5. Be a good role model (which includes accepting your children for who they are).
Tips for Being a Good Role Model to an Introverted Child (and all children):
1 – Accept your child’s personality the way it is (as long as they are kind, respectful, and care about themselves and others, you don’t need to try to change anything about them. You don’t want to create stressful or painful memories surrounding your child’s socialization opportunities or communication attempts)
2 – Talk to others in a kind, respectful, and meaningful way in front of your child
3 – Play games with your child (or do other activities your child likes) to have fun in a comfortable or familiar setting.
4 – Be positive and uplifting to your child when they communicate well or interact with you or others.
5 – Help your child discover what they are passionate about and interested in.
6 – Provide opportunities for social interaction and confidence building through interest-based activities that use your child’s strengths and talents
E-Book: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking (FYI-No Kindle Needed: Read on any device with the Free Kindle Reading App – Paperback Copy Also Available)
Education and Behavior – Keeping us on the same page with research-based strategies for children!
Rachel Wise is the author and founder of Education and Behavior. Rachel created Education and Behavior in 2014 for adults to have an easy way to access research-based information to support children in the areas of learning, behavior, and social-emotional development. As a survivor of abuse, neglect, and bullying, Rachel slipped through the cracks of her school and community. Education and Behavior hopes to play a role in preventing that from happening to other children. Rachel is also the author of Building Confidence and Improving Behavior in Children: A Guide for Parents and Teachers.
“Children do best when there is consistency within and across settings (i.e., home, school, community). Education and Behavior allows us to maintain that consistency.”