Introverted children stand out in a fast=paced and social world. Standing out isn’t a bad thing, but many children would rather fit in than be different from peers. However, you can help your child understand being quiet or reserved is nothing to feel shame about.
Introverts navigate the world differently from ambiverts or extroverts, but they have as much to offer as anyone else.
There are many ways for you to support the introverts in your life — keep reading to discover some helpful techniques.
How Introverts Thrive
Introverts and extroverts differ in many ways — the most notable being their socializing styles. Contrary to popular belief, most introverts don’t hate interacting with others.
Interacting with others is generally an overload that requires them to step back and recharge. Conversely, extroverts gain energy from socializing and feel drained when not communicating with others.
Many societies lean toward extroversion and prefer collaboration and outgoing behavior. However, introverts prefer solitude to help them collect their thoughts and develop ideas. They do well in slower-paced learning environments and don’t like being singled out for answers.
New experiences can be daunting, but they approach these most effectively by observing and then doing — with encouragement from siblings, friends or parents.
Ways to Give Support and Acknowledgement
Whether you’re a parent, teacher or relative, you can help your introvert build confidence. The suggestions below give you a starting point, but consider the child’s perspective also.
Ask them what you can do to better accommodate their wants and needs, and avoid approaching them with preconceived notions. Though most introverts share similar traits, they’re also individuals with unique preferences.
Having one or two friends isn’t something to stress over — refrain from pushing your child to make tons of connections. Socializing with strangers can be nervewracking for introverts, which is why it’s often better to let them observe before joining in.
Work on social skills at home by role-playing and giving them guidance on things to say in certain situations. This exercise goes doubly for younger children, who are only beginning to learn about socializing and emotional regulation.
Advocate for quiet zones in the classroom or school. These serve as places where introverted students can go during recess or lunch when they’re feeling overwhelmed. Lunchrooms and playgrounds are crowded, loud and chaotic, which can deplete an introvert’s energy fast. Having somewhere to refresh themselves during the day lets them return to class with more willingness to participate.
Reading with your young introvert can be a great way to help them recharge after a tiring day. Books offer worlds different from ours, broaden one’s vocabulary and cognition and provide an escape from everyday issues. Ask them about what they think of the book and assist them with any concepts they don’t understand. Build a daily routine that includes periodic “quiet times” to let your child rest after high-energy events.
Many modern classrooms focus pointedly on group work, but it’s essential to build in some solo assignments too. Constant collaborative work can do more harm than good by exhausting introverted children and causing lower performance.
Extroverts also suffer the effects of endless group work — they lack the necessary opportunities to learn how to work alone. Solo activities promote deeper problem solving and critical thinking, which many students miss out on.
Teachers can create more assignments centering around individual work or do pairs instead of groups. Some state standards require a specific amount of collaborative work, however.
In this case, give advance notice for group tasks so introverts have time to prepare themselves. Providing students with a “long runway” of upcoming tasks lets them know what’s ahead.
Many people struggle to recognize their emotions, and introverted children are no different. Though your child may be anxious or stressed, they don’t always have the words to identify these issues. Help your child make sense of their feelings by starting with a physical basis. Does their stomach hurt when they’re nervous? Do their palms sweat?
By associating physiological sensations with emotional responses, kids will understand how and why specific feelings occur. This method also helps them validate their emotions. People often say, “it’s all in your head,” but this is untrue. Anger, jealousy, happiness and more all manifest in the physical body as well as the mind.
Make flashcards to help them name what they feel, or encourage them to write in a journal. People with high emotional intelligence tend to excel at empathizing with others and solving problems.
Creating Better Environments for Introverts
The introverts you know may grow to be wise philosophers and artists. Bolster their abilities by supporting them early in life. Introverted people have many different perspectives to add to the world, which is something we need in a society of like minds.