Understanding Introvert Child and personality
It’s a world applauding the gregarious people, promoting and giving opportunities to the extrovert’s. We as parents have seen the same system right from our glorious childhood. Be it schools, who promote kids who speak up and involve in group participations, or be it professional life, wherein the out-spoken climbs up the ladder. Or be it our society, who values people who speak up and bond with a larger community more. To a certain extent, this reality has woven us with the terms as “social child” , “friendly child”, “participative kid”, but what about children who are really Introvert?
Does your child needs one on one self time to energize up? Is he often quiet and not comfortable in big social gatherings? He doesn’t speaks up much about his inner feelings? Doesn’t loves “team or group sports”? Have one or two good friends only and doesn’t hangs out with larger groups? Communicates one on one rather than in group? But is a great listener and observer? Gels up with people really slowly but are great at conversation once they become known?
Though no 2 Introvert children can have all these qualities same, but as parents do you find 80% of these qualities in your child? If yes, then you’re blessed, yes blessed to have “Introvert children”.
Let me tell you, Introvert children share their traits with the legends like Abraham Lincoln, Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, J.K. Rowling and even M.K Gandhi.
Being an introvert child :
Being an introvert is just a facet of your child’s personality, Introverts are biologically wired differently than extroverts. Hence, your wish to convert them into an extrovert can sometimes be a daunting task and can lead to more negative emotions in introvert kids.
“You can’t change an introvert into an extrovert, but certainly you can work around to build in better self – confidence, to help them speak up their innate thoughts and to stand firmly in the social life.
Understanding the biology of Introverts :
As I had mentioned that Introverts are wired differently from extroverts and hence it is their basic personality trait. Introverts and extroverts use different neurotransmitter pathways. While extroverts use “Sympathetic side”, which triggers their fight and flight mode and they become active when exposed to the outer world to energize themselves. On the other hand, Introvert’s use Parasympathetic side, which regulates rest and digestion, and they require less stimulation towards the outer world. They gain their energy by being “themselves” and spending more time alone.
A study also said that introverts have larger and much dense gray matter in their prefrontal cortices. And this is the area which governs the “focus”, “ decision making abilities”. This is proved by the fact that :
- Introverts are more focussed, and are not easily swayed away by the “Influencing Peer Power”.
- They are cautious people, better listeners, perfect decision makers and great thinkers.
- Introverts are more empathetic compared to extroverts, and all these positives are because they are biologically different.
Introverts feel more happy and energetic in peaceful yet stimulating surroundings. So, being an extrovert parent yourself, it might be difficult, but let’s work to raise an introvert child positively.
Raising an Introvert child positively :
1. Understand your Introvert Child and the biology behind it :
As a parent, you need to understand Introversion as a personality trait. Don’t worry if your child has few friends or doesn’t likes to play group sports as Basketball or doesn’t wants to attend a friend’s birthday party. The first step is, Take it easy! There is nothing wrong here. Start positive discussions around being introvert, relate it with your own life, how sometimes being introvert didn’t help you achieve what you wanted. Discuss the problems and their custom solutions you faced/create those situations.
2. Role Play :
You can start enacting the scenes with Role Plays, which is the best way for children to learn the real life circumstances. Try enacting role play around school, social events, real situations like participating in a Basketball match, the nervousness of your child around it (as an introvert), handling this scenario and succeeding it. Discuss, how it impacted the real emotions in the end. Foster creativity in your child.
3. Be slow :
“My child was never enthusiastic about Birthday parties, rather he was never happy on his own Birthday party, when people focussed, clapped for him. It took some time for me to understand.”
The lesson learnt was, Introverts become anxious when there are numerous new people around or in a new environment. We cannot expect them to start conversation with other kids as soon as they are at the venue. The best possible solution to this anxiety is , Go slow and start the preparations early on. Start discussing about the event/function 2-3 days prior with your child. Try to reach the venue little ahead before it gets crowded with other people. During that “warm up” time, allow your introvert child to get accustomed to the surroundings by simply sitting and observing.
Remember, don’t let it go, attend social parties, but just respect their time and go on a slow pace. Engage positively as in “ A likes to know people really well to start the conversation”. This will help in positive outlook by your child.
4. Try to engage your child in conversation with other children :
Introverts usually find it hard to make new friends, so don’t “FORCE” them. Simply give your child enough opportunities to start small interactions. Like take them to garden daily, ask them to watch how other kids play. After watching, help them gently to join other kids for the play. If your child doesn’t wants to play with other kids, you will have to help them out. Start playing with your child and ask 1-2 kids to join the play. Develop that fun slowly.
5. Speak to your child :
Since, Introvert children often love privacy and usually do not ask for help, parents usually worry about engulfing emotional distress as depression around them. Though, depression and being an introvert are not linked, still speak to them about their issues and solutions in a friendly way. Don’t try to be a CBI inspector. Teach them that their voice and opinions need to be heard. As a parent, listen to them and then slowly pull them out of their thoughts of “internalizing” the things.
6. Small sized play dates :
Well organizing play dates with large bunch can actually harm their emotions rather than pacifying. Organize play dates at your own home, starting with may be 3-4 children. Try to keep one of your child’s friend in that gathering, so that he feels comfortable. Don’t overdo! Conduct playdates fortnightly or so and make them more interesting and interactive with group role plays. You as a parent, have to be involved in it. Also, invite some younger kids, as older kids get the opportunity to lead them and this breaks the barrier of introverts.
Once your child starts feeling comfortable, gradually change the location of play dates or try to add up one one more child. Even for the Birthday celebrations, try to keep the guest list short and more known people, rather than inviting 100’s for their birthday.
7. Opportunities to develop passions :
Don’t stop your child from pursuing their interest, no matter, if it stands as “Illogical interest” from your point of view. Rather give them ample opportunities to take up their passion. Their engagement in something they really relish, will bring a sense of self confidence in Introvert kids and this is really a must-have quality for them.
This confidence towards a specific task, may give the opportunities to interact with other kids having similar passion. In turn, it can help them “socialize”. Let them indulge in their creative pursuit and help them excel. If your child doesn’t speaks of his interest, observe and then try chatting over his likes/passion.
8. Develop confidence :
Helping them excel in their passion is a great way. Apart from that, give them opportunities that would indulge in failure, getting up and then achieving the success. You need to develop the quality of “resilience” in them. Failure is really a path towards success and confidence. If your child love sports, nurture it. Your child can start with lone games as Swimming, but slowly, observing other games, they will learn the importance of teamwork.
Sports are great example wherein a child learns to lose, work hard, win, and realize the importance of team work. Expose them to sports!
9. Authority to make small decisions :
Give introvert kids small moments to take decision, as in select your dress, finalize your lunch, where should we go for picnic as a family and so on. Small decision making opportunities helps in developing self confidence and break the barrier of not-speaking-their-minds.
10. Discuss with the teacher :
You should speak to your child’s teacher about his introvert behaviour, so that the teacher may also try to focus on the “group” parameters. Schools are a great resource to bring the positive outcomes and bridge the gap, but “Slowly”.
So, accept, enjoy the Introversion and work towards it, take every small step in an empathetic , non-pushy manner. Respect the sentiments of an introvert child and stop comparison with extroverts! Remember, your child could be another Rudyard Kipling or Albert Einstein! Keep your motivation ON!