As parents, we do our best to prepare our children to deal with the ups and downs in life as they work towards their dreams and goals. At the end of the day, we want them to grow up happy, well-adjusted and ready to take on the challenges that come their way.
While there are various resources that provide tips and strategies to bring out the best in your child, not all of them can be applied to children who are introverts. Often mistaken for being shy, some common characteristics of introverted children include:
- More inclined to spend time alone in his/her room with the door closed
- Often appear as reserved and may not share their thoughts and feelings easily
- Likely to have just one or two friends, as opposed to a big group of friends
If it seems like your child is more of an introvert, here are some things you can do to bring out the best in him/her:
1. Avoid labels
Contrary to what most people think, introversion is not a sign of socio-emotional problems such as depression. Instead, it is a unique personality trait and people who are introverts have different social needs and preferences compared to extroverts. Giving your children labels with negative connotations such as “loner” will affect them emotionally and mentally, leading them to believe that they are what you describe them to be. The best thing that you can do for your introverted child is to accept his/her personality traits and try to work around them to bring out the best in him/her.
2. Initiate small talk
At first glance, introverts may appear to have poor social skills as their style of interacting differs from that of extroverts. They tend to listen and make eye contact with the person who is talking to them. However, when they talk, they usually say what they mean and may look away from the person they are talking to.
Parents of introverts can help their children express their thoughts and feelings to others by having simple conversations with them. You can guide them along by asking questions and teaching them to see things from different perspectives. With lots of patience and practice, your introverted child will be on the right track in expressing himself/herself confidently to others.
3. Understand their social preferences
Introverted children tend to be quiet by nature and they do not enjoy being the centre of attention. On top of that, they are more comfortable interacting with one or two people at a time, as opposed to a large group of people.
Understanding the preferences of introverts in social situations such as this can go a long way to help parents and teachers guide introverted children when it comes to group activities such as Show and Tell. Give them a chance to observe the activities at first, and once they get a good idea of how things work, encourage them to join in. Be sure to assure the children that they have many good ideas to share with their friends, and do affirm their efforts and contributions along the way.
4. Don’t force him/her to make friends
Children who are introverts prefer being in the company of just one or two others. Thus, when it comes to making friends, they prefer to do this on their own terms and are highly likely to keep the circle close-knit. Although you might want your child to mingle with other children of the same age through playgroup outings, do take note not to force him/her to interact and play with the others. Doing so will only make things worse, and your child might become resentful or have negative feelings towards social interactions. Once your child finds a friend with whom he/she can relate to, things will take off naturally.
5. Be aware of his/her emotional responses
Parents of introverted children may be eager to enrol their young ones for various enrichment classes to help them improve their social skills, but an activity-filled scheduled could be overwhelming for these children. As they do not take well to crowded places and spending time with strangers, introverts often feel emotionally drained, which causes them to be grouchy and irritable. Thus, it is important to know your child’s limits when it comes to group activities and how he/she reacts to each. With this, you can tailor the daily schedule according to your child’s needs, while keeping things fun.
Written by Justina Goh