May 14, 2018 Parenting an introverted child
There’s no cookie cutter way to parent a healthy child because we’re all so unique.
What might’ve worked for one of your kids might totally fall flat for the other.
For example, my girls Alex and Sam are completely different in how they communicate and share feelings.
Some kids overshare (Alex loves to share and totally wears her heart on her sleeve) while others keep everything locked up tight, like Sam. It’s not right or wrong, it’s just how they’re wired.
When Sammy was really little, she had no fear of making new friends and experiencing new things. But after kindergarten, she suddenly seemed shy.
At the time, we weren’t sure what changed.
Actually, she isn’t shy, but a self-described introvert.
There’s some confusion around introversion. Some people associate introversion with shyness or a communication problem/socializing problem. Some parents try to create situations where their child is ‘forced’ to be more assertive or outgoing but that usually backfires.
See, introversion isn’t a ‘problem’ at all.
Helping your child realize that the way they see the world is valid (even like a super-power!) sets them up for a healthy mindset.
Like I said, introverts are not always shy and a lot of times, they enjoy a group setting, but instead of being charged up by social interaction, they often feel depleated and need some alone time to recoup.
Introverts may not have a large social circle, but the relationships they do focus on run deep.
They’re less likely to bend to peer pressure and are not easily distracted from their core values, so they’ll usually avoid the people who make them uncomfortable or try to force decisions on them. Usually, they shut down and walk away when pressured.
Sammy often intensely observes before jumping into anything and that observation is usually pretty detailed (yep, super-power!) including how each person involved is thinking and feeling.
In the interview below, Sam talks about how this ability can be hard to handle sometimes.
When she was younger, she assumed everyone was watching her, analyzing her actions and even judging her. She’d start to create a story in her head about what people were thinking about her, even if it was unwarranted. It took her time to believe that most people are more focused on themselves than on her.
Sammy is learning to change the story she tells herself.
Keen observation can be helpful, but if your mindset isn’t right, it will drive you nuts!
One thing that Sammy doesn’t like is for anyone to pressure her to speak. Even this interview made her feel a little bit uncomfortable because she didn’t have time to really think about her answers and carefully weigh what she was going to say.
She’d rather say nothing than something insignificant or incorrect.
It’s important to know this about your child because oftentimes, parents think something is wrong with their introverted child, but really, they’re just formulating what to say and how to say it or their taking time to work out a solution.
Sammy prefers that if something is wrong, that I present examples of similar situations for her to ponder and then step away to give her plenty of thinking space. Most times she worked out the problem on her own.
If she really needed help, she’d ask. I had to trust that!
The best advice I can give to parents with introverted loved ones is to give them lots of space to think and process and to trust that silence does not mean “issues”.
Learn about their tendencies and how they communicate so you can help them thrive in a world that seems to only celebrate extroversion.
I hope our interview gives you some insight.
Below the audio clip you’ll see the time stamps plus LOTS of resources for you to check out and print!
2:45- Sammy talks about what being introverted means.
4:26- The challenge of living in your head.
9:10- They talk about change and a fear of growing up.
10:00- Living with protective feelings.
15:12- Peer pressure
18:00- How can parents approach their introverted child when they’re struggling
Want to learn more about introversion? These articles are excellent:
Check out this website too!
Download this journal printable- great for quiet thinking space.