Your Introverted Child Is Happy Too

We want our children to be happy and to many adults, happiness looks like a child who runs into a room and is in the middle of the largest group of children playing.  We want our children to feel accepted and loved in the world.  We don’t want them to be lonely and sad.  When a child walks into a crowded room and stands back, parents tend to worry.  The child who stands back, observes, interacts sometimes but not others is not necessarily unhappy.  In fact, if we push that child to interact, we may be fostering discomfort rather than enjoyment.
Too often, adults confuse introversion with shyness, fear and loneliness.  An introverted person is someone who is gets energy from being alone.  An introvert finds socialization tiring.  The introvert processes information when alone.  They are, by nature, very different that the extrovert who gains energy from socializing and needs to talk to others to process.  The introvert will be more fearful and more unhappy, in fact, when not given the space and time to process input apart from others.
Children build self-esteem by taking pride in themselves and who they are.  Adults tip the balance of their feelings of security when they misread what will make their children feel safe and secure.  We forget that our own viewpoint of the world is often tainted by years of experiences, both good and bad.  We remember being the middle school age student who wanted to be in the popular group.  We remember how it feels to lose friends.  We don’t want that for our children.  We forget that our 2, 3 & 4 year olds are new at socialization, don’t have these experiences and need to find their own comfort zones.  The more we push our children to be extroverts when that is not their nature, the more we make them think that their more introspective nature is wrong.  It is not wrong.  It is simply who they are – it is their comfort zone.

We also live in a time when much attention is being paid to symptoms of the spectrum of autism.  Not every child has a diagnosable issue.  Not every child is naturally the life of the party either.  It doesn’t mean that the child has a spectrum disorder.  There needs to be more than one symptom to qualify as a developmental issue.

When you see your child sit back from the crowd, worry less and watch more.  Watch to see what your child is processing.  Is your child deciding his/her comfort level with what the children are playing?  If your child seems to want to join the crowd, ask instead of push.  Ask “Do you want to play with them?” and if the response is no, then so be it.  Your young children will accept your help with socialization if they really want to be in the crowd.  Give your introverted children the gift of knowing that it is okay to be who they are, to observe, process, decide and find a way to make friends that feels most authentic to them.



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Copyright 2014 © Cindy Terebush
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  1. I am introverted so I can understand this! Parents often think a quiet child isn't normal or happy.

  2. Yes, this is so right! I was a "shy" child and still am one who stands back and watches. I teach young children, and always have a soft spot for the kids who don't draw attention to themselves, yet have beautiful personalities if only given the time to let us see it.

  3. Good point, well made, thank you Cindy. As parents we do often want what we 'think' is best for our children without really knowing! becoming more aware of their needs by observing and assessing situations will help.

    I remember an incident with my youngest son (who is on the autistic spectrum) when his father wanted to show him that having his hair washed under the shower really was OK, Eden, my son, for some reason did not like the shower over his head, body yes, not his head. Because his father was convinced if only he'd 'try' it he would be ok, he showered Eden, including over his head!!! Eden did not like it, was not convinced otherwise and I remember my husband (now ex!) saying "See, I told you, it's alright, You're OK" ..... well Eden was OK, i.e. he survived the experience though that did not prove anything, and Eden persisted in not wanting a shower over his head for many more years. He has now, in his own time, in his own way of coming to terms with it, dealt with it and showers (including washing his hair) without any issues. He had to come to it in his own time. While encouraging our children is important, it's very different from 'forcing' them. I remember 'encouraging' our middle son to go abseiling, he was a little reluctant at first, though once he'd done it, loved it. There is a big difference between encouraging and forcing.

    Parents often forget it's their child's life, not theirs and often want them to do what we wanted to do, or what we missed doing, living through them, in a way. It really helps when we acknowledge and celebrate our children for the unique individuals they are :o)


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