It seems that not all of us are outgoing or described as social experts with those around us – who knew? We wanted to share a great article with you that we read in Parents Magazine, that looks inside raising a child that is an introvert. The article touches on topics including, how to react as a parent if your child is an introvert, nurturing an introvert child, and activities to do together to increase your child’s comfort.
We also chatted with Mama Bell to get her opinion on raising both introverts and extroverts through her five girls. She’s practically an expert in her own, right?
A Parent’s Reaction (or Overreaction)
Parents often push their introverts to be more outgoing by playing a team sport like basketball – a tactic that can backfire because the chaos of kids shouting and running in different directions is too much to take. An introverted child might more naturally excel at an individual sport like swimming or karate.
Dr. Laney says her clients repeatedly show concern about their introverted children’s marathon attention spans. “A lot of parents don’t like it if their child reads a lot,” she says, noting that their failure to understand this side of their kids’ nature is especially heartbreaking since excellent concentration is one of the benefits of an introverted temperament – a real plus for everything from rocket science to musical composition.
Nurturing Your Introvert
Introverted kids are often well liked and popular, but they’ll frequently pick a few close buddies instead of befriending the entire class. Introverts also need to have their privacy respected, even more than other kids do. “Extroverted parents think everyone needs to do everything together,” Dr. Laney says. “But for an introvert, it can be a relief to have some time alone.” Because introverted children with extroverted siblings can feel lost in all the talking, she counsels parents to plan one-on-one time to give their more reserved child some tranquility.
At school, it helps to start each year with an upbeat note to your child’s new teacher. “You can say, ‘Helen needs more time than average to get acclimated to a new setting’ suggests Dr. Smallwood. Teachers generally welcome insights into their students’ psyches, she says, and are less likely to put a child on the spot if they know she feels uncomfortable in the limelight.
Out and About with Your Introvert
1. In the Community: Let him see how you handle casual interactions like errands. When you compliment a bank teller, you’re showing your child how to make chit-chat.
2. At the Playground: If your child wants to play with the other kids but isn’t sure how to enter the action, encourage her to take her time easing in.
3. On Playdates: Instead of dropping off an introverted child at an unfamiliar home, invite a classmate to your house. After they’ve played together at your place a few times, change the location to the park and then to the other child’s house.
4. At Birthday Parties: Help your child settle in to these often daunting whirlwinds of activity by hanging around and gradually disengaging yourself instead of leaving at the first sign that he’s going to be okay.
For the full article on Parents.com click here.
Wise Words from Mama Bell (on raising both introverts and extroverts with her five daughters)
I didn’t feel it was my duty to change their personality, but I encouraged all the kids in the same way I approached life, which was to be active and productive. Our house was a busy place, a whirlwind at times and I left it pretty much up to the kids to see where they fit in to it all. I think that in itself made the kids come out of their shell. My oldest was an extrovert and she led the way, the second was more introverted, but followed in the oldest’s footsteps to an extent and was active in school and friends. The middle child more an introvert did the same. The fourth, an extrovert made her own path – most active path. A surprise of sort as she was teased a lot growing up by her older sisters. The youngest was an introvert but took the path of daughters two and three being active in and out of school. I had more one-on-one time with the youngest with the older kids slowly leaving the nest, so we were buddies and did a lot together. I still call her by her nickname, Bud.
When you’re a child, I feel like the more you do, the less you sit by yourself, and the more experiences you have, that ultimately brings you out of your shell. I guess the rule for my kids was follow by example. Not only did the kids follow each other, but thank goodness they had great examples and both parents were very busy and nourished the idea to be active, productive, and good people.
I think I am a blend as three of my children are. I will not be the first to speak out, but will not be taken advantage of either. This changed as I got older. I guess I was lucky I never had to think of it as a challenge because the kids generally always found their way on their own, making friends, being successful and happy. Not to say there weren’t bumps in the road, but we worked it out as a family.
My parenting tactic in all situations with all personalities was similar, distinguish between right and wrong and being safe and healthy with your choices.