Often, understanding our child, the whys to what they do and their unique personality, is half the battle. It took several years for me to figure out my child is an introvert and to learn how to best parent his personality to avoid much unnecessary struggle and heartache. If I had known this earlier, I could have empathized and validated him appropriately, prepared him more accurately for particular situations, and made decisions wisely on his behalf for his well-being.
Why should we understand our child’s personality type?
When we do not understand our introvert, many of their actions can be misconstrued. Spending time alone or reading for hours in their bedroom can be misunderstood as a teen disliking the other family members or even depression. A very young introvert who cries about going to school or melts down afterwards can be seen as not liking the classmates, the teacher, or possibly as an emotionally troubled child. Understanding your own child is first and foremost in this process.
What are some of the characteristics of an introvert child?
An introvert enjoys spending time alone and needs ample doses of solitude. They prefer smaller social gatherings and dislike small talk. The introvert is slow to make decisions, prefers consistency and familiar versus risks, and does not enjoy being overly scheduled. Introverts avoid the spotlight, especially potentially humiliating situations. This is not a complete list of traits and every introvert isn’t necessarily all of these characteristics but, the true introvert will relate to most of them. Unfortunately, none of these introvert descriptors are widely accepted in our society even though, introverts are also keenly observant, intuitive, loyal, independent, imaginative, dependable, team players, content, and have a strong sense of self. As a friend of mine says, they don’t exactly fill other’s love buckets and give you the warm and fuzzies.
In what ways does knowing my child is an introvert affect my parenting?
How do you raise an introvert in our extrovert dominant world? After all, over 70% of the population are extroverts. The most helpful thing you can do, by far, is not to try to force them to be an extrovert. They do not need fixing! They are not flawed. Accept that your child is wired to be an introvert. Will other parents ask you what is “wrong” with your child when they don’t want to go to slumber parties or they don’t sign up for every social club or do not play 3 sports and an instrument? Yes! They certainly will (in the most tactful southern way, of course!). That’s okay. You understand your child. You support and build their many strengths and while you’re at it, count it as a blessing that you are not running them around all night, every night, and you are rarely involved in any social drama! That is reason to celebrate!
Once you understand your child’s needs, you may be careful not to over-schedule her or assume she wants to go to every birthday party or social event just because she got invited. Stick to requiring attendance at the most important events of close family and friends.
Give your introvert time to chill and unwind after a long day at school; a place that involves hundreds of people and noise. If you simply can not avoid a particularly hectic day, arrange for the next day to be less scheduled and calm. The best thing that ever happened to my child, was the day he was able to start staying home alone while I ran some errands. He has been a much more content person ever since! He desperately needed the down time after school. For his mental health and well-being, running around with me in the evenings was not the best option but often unavoidable.
Give your introvert plenty of time to make decisions, while helping her weigh carefully the pros and cons. Plenty of notice and preparation may be needed for upcoming life changes. The more preparation and familiarity with a future event, the less anxiety it will produce in your child.
Don’t worry when they aren’t super social or do not seem to need much attention from others. Remember when I said they don’t enjoy small talk? Yeah – they don’t. So, they probably won’t have a lot to say to the question, “How was your day?”, even before the teenage years. You may try to engage your introvert by taking an interest in their interests.
All children have areas in which they need to grow. Getting out of our comfort zone is a necessary part of life. Even extroverts must learn to be content alone at times or to heed caution in decisions or risky ventures. Introverts must also reach and stretch themselves. By understanding your introvert’s personality and what makes them feel like their best self, you can carefully select those growth opportunities and take steps to prepare your introvert ahead of time. Michaela Chung said it best in her book, The Irresistible Introvert, “An introvert’s desire for solitude is more than just a preference. It is crucial to our health and happiness.”
**If you are interested in finding out if you are an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert, you can click on the link below and take a short quiz.