If you’re an introvert, you know first-hand that there are certain things you crave, solitude being one of them. But as parents, we want to help our kids get the most out of life and not be limited by their personality. If you have an introvert kid who struggles with speaking up in social situations or has a constant need for solitude, here are 10 things you can do to help him succeed.
1. Help her know how to leave a social setting when it gets to be too much. Come up with a simple hand signal that you and your kid can use when you're at a playdate or party. This mom and her introvert son use a "v" or peace sign to indicate when he needed to escape the over stimulation.
2. Avoid over-scheduling your young introvert. These days, it's easy to look at your calendar and realize that between Scout meetings, dance lessons, soccer practice, piano rehearsal and school, there's no downtime left in the schedule. While an outgoing extrovert kid may think this is the perfect week, this schedule will cause a lot of discomfort for an introvert child.
3. Advocate for your kid in the classroom. According to experts, it's important for parents to embrace what it means to be an introvert and to devise systems that work for these personality types. For example, telling him "just raise your hand and talk" is not an effective motivator for an introvert, encouraging him to write out his questions or what he wants to say ahead of time on an index card might be.
4. Don't force an introvert to do extroverted things like hug people. Grandma may think there's nothing wrong with hugging her granddaughter every time she greets her. But if that little girl is an introvert who is not comfortable with physical affection, that innocent gesture may cause her quite a bit of anxiety. Instead, let your introvert how they want to show affection and let grandma know ahead of time.
5. Gradually expose your kid to new situations and people if they are hesitant. Your introvert may shy away from going to new places or meeting new kids because those social situations cause anxiety. The key to helping your introvert child thrive is not thrusting them into a brand new venue, but gradually bringing them into it. You don't want your kid to opt out completely, but let her navigate at her own pace.
6. Don't treat your introvert's preference for alone time as if she's emotionally distressed. Many parents worry about their child's need for solitude or his desire to spend time behind the bedroom door means they are sad or signs of depression. But for an introvert, that alone time is recharging and bring them comfort.
7. Let her recharge inside, and don't force her outside to play. "Go outside and play" is a statement you've probably uttered more than once. While it's great advice for some kids, it may not be the right instructions for an introvert child. Introverts get energy internally and may have no desire to go outside and play tag with the neighborhood kids. So, when it comes to playtime, make sure your young introvert has an indoor option.
8. Teach him how to express his feelings. If you have an introvert who has trouble expressing sadness or anger, give her the tools to share her feelings without forcing her to talk everything through. For example, encourage your kid to write in a journal or pen a letter to you. If he or she is too young to write, have your child draw his or her feelings. Another idea—reenact tough situations with stuffed animals.
9. Get to birthday parties early. For an introvert, stepping into a crowded room of loud people can be very overwhelming. To avoid the feeling of wanting to exit the party immediately, arrive at the festivities early so your kiddo can get comfortable in her environment and perhaps find one friend she can begin talking to before more people arrive.
10. Don't shy away from sports activities; find the right match for your introvert. Just because your child is an introvert does not mean he wants to spend all his time indoors and reading. He may very well like sports or activities, but is not inclined toward team or group recreation. If that's your child, look for activities that are more suited toward individual participation. Sports such as track/running or golf may be where your kiddo thrives.
— Leah R. Singer
Featured image: Laura Fuhrman via Unsplash