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.
For more information, click on these titles: "Encourage Children's Personality Instincts, Don't Destroy Them" and "Social Skills Development - The Real Keys To Success After Preschool"
Read my articles in “The Shriver Report”: "Stress in the Family: Helping Our Children to Cope" ; "From Working Mom to Working Woman: The Opportunity of the Empty Nest""Family Finances: Tips To Teaching Your Kids About Money""Equality in My Home"
Read this blog for more articles. Ask your parenting & education questions and learn about early childhood workshops for parents & educators on my website - Helping Kids Achieve
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