Everyone has their own unique method for processing daily information. Some children are naturally more introverted than others and this can be a challenge for parents at times, especially if the parent happens to be naturally extroverted.
Many people think that an introverted kid is just shy and that they’ll grow out of it, however shyness and introversion are very different aspects to a person’s personality. While it’s possible for kids to be both shy and introverted, that doesn’t mean they can’t also be quite outgoing.
Sound confusing? It can be, especially since many sources will define an introvert as a shy person to begin with.
Yet introversion is more accurately defined as a means of processing information. It doesn’t refer to how easily you relate to other people.
As a parent, it’s important to be able to distinguish if your child is an introvert or if they’re shy.
You may want to help your children overcome their shyness, but you should also support and allow an introvert to process information in their natural way. To try and change that is similar to trying to make a left-handed child become right hand dominant.
Introverted people relish time alone. They may appear to be more concerned with their inner minds than the outer world. They may like to quietly observe others without actively participating. Introverts will often report feeling alone or lonely when they’re surrounded by a group of people they don’t know. And contrary to popular belief, introverts don’t always lock themselves away in their room. They may enjoy going to parties or being part of a team, but will probably want some quiet time afterwards in order to recharge.
This can be especially difficult for an extroverted parent to understand. Extroverts get a lot of energy from other people, so they might go out in order to recharge. For an introvert, being around a lot of people or even noise can be both physically and emotionally draining.
Your introverted child may be very thoughtful and able to carry on great conversations. Small talk may be more of a challenge for them, however. Watch your child as they interact with others. Many introverts work out problems and conversations in their minds silently. They aren’t likely to blurt things out without a thought.
Being an introvert is hardly a negative thing. A higher percentage of gifted children are categorized as introverted and introverts can succeed at any career — even ones that you might think would only be a fit for an outgoing personality. For example, many successful actors are actually introverts — they process the information internally and then they’re able to embody their characters regardless of what personalities they’re meant to be playing.
If your child is an introvert, be sure to give them plenty of quiet time. Recognize that if they have a delay in responding to you, it might just be that they’re thinking or feeling out their answer.
If you’re an extrovert, you may be used to verbally going over answers to life’s challenges. Don’t expect your child to follow your lead because it doesn’t mean they didn’t hear you when you spoke. They may be silently repeating your words in their heads as they work out their own solutions.
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