For parents who are not introverts, raising an introverted child can get confusing and prove to be a learning curve.
As you crack your head trying to figure out what it is that you’ve said that made your child upset, know that introverts are wired differently from extroverts in the way they think and react to situations – but that doesn’t mean that there is anything “wrong” with your little one.
Understanding your introverted child
Based on the results of studies conducted, 75% of individuals are categorised as extroverts – the outgoing ones who are the total opposite of introverts.
Introverts get their energy by focusing inside themselves and need time by themselves to recharge. They engage in deep thinking as a way to cope with what’s happening around them and can be overwhelmed easily by the environment. While they tend to narrow their experiences, they delve deeper into areas that they choose to focus on.
More often than not, introverts feel out of place and may need to pick up skills to cope in helping them feel good about themselves. With that, parents play an important role in helping their introverted child embrace their inner selves – and knowing what you should not do to upset or put down your introverted child is a great first step to take.
Things parents should not do to their introverted child
1. Make fun of them in front of other people
You might think that turning your child’s awkwardness into a joke helps to lighten the mood, this can cause your child to get embarrassed over the situation. Your introverted child might not understand the humour behind this and could make him/her resent you.
2. Force them to join the conversation
What you see as helping your child to be more social and open to talking to others might appear to your child as mum or dad forcing him/her to do something that he/she is not comfortable with. Introverted children need to feel comfortable first before they open up, and when they are pushed to talk, they might drive themselves further away.
3. Talk on behalf of your child
You happen to come across another child who is just as much of an introvert as yours – what would you do? Get started with the introductions and talk on behalf of your child?
While it is not wrong with you wanting to help your child feel comfortable in making his/her own friends, be wary of overdoing it. Let your child take charge and things will flow naturally.
4. Being insensitive to them being an introvert
One of the worst things you can do is to put your child down for being “too quiet”. In your moments of frustration, you might say things such as “Stop being so quiet” or “You need to learn to speak up”. Know that these phrases do nothing to help and only make your child withdraw further.
5. Tell them that they are rude for not greeting unfamiliar people
Yes, your introverted child might find it challenging to say hi to people he/she is unfamiliar with. Instead of scolding or belittling them, explain to them that it is only right that they acknowledge other people’s presence and that they can give a little nod or smile to start off with.
6. Share personal details about them to others
You might have been through moments when your own parents talked about funny and cute things you did as a child or baby, which you either brushed off or laughed along. But that does not mean that you should do this to your introverted child, as he/she may see it as you making fun of him/her to others.
As introverted children are more sensitive and sentimental, details about them that you see as “normal” may be perceived as private information that they would rather not disclose.
7. Overschedule them
These days, our children are getting busier with a long list of activities that they are involved in. While some kids flourish when they are stimulated and kept busy, things work differently with introverted children.
Do take note that an introverted child needs more downtime to recharge as they get overwhelmed easily with their environment.
8. Ask questions to their friends
Your introverted child might be cautious in their interactions with their friends. So, when you jump in and start asking him/her friends questions and strike a conversation, your child might feel embarrassed.
Although you see nothing wrong with what you are doing (and you’re definitely careful not to embarrass your child), just bear in mind that your introverted child tend to overthink things. What you see as embarrassing is different from what your child deems as so.
At the end of the day, you don’t need to be an introvert to be able to parent your introverted child well. The secret to success lies in taking the time to look out for your child’s cues and respect his/her boundaries – even if you don’t understand why certain things make him/her feel embarrassed or why he/she prefers to stay quiet.
Hang in there – you can do this!