Raise your hand if you are parenting an introverted kiddo and need some tips to help them navigate the world? I can so relate and I was right there with you!
Our oldest kiddo is an extrovert, and an extreme one at that, so when our 2nd child started showing us that he’s more of an introvert, it was a brand new world for us. Even though I’m an introvert myself, it took me some time to learn how to help him feel supported and empowered as the awesome introvert that he is.
Here are a few of the things that I’ve found work well for us. I would love to hear the things you have found that work for your introverted kiddos too!
1. Learning to differentiate between when he is tired vs. when he’s just had too much “people time”
For my son, a lot of the behaviors he displays when he’s had too much people time look a lot like the behaviors he displays when he’s tired. I used to think we had to just barrel through the day with an overtired (so I thought) kid until we could finally make it to nap time or bedtime. Over time, I’ve learned to think through what might be the source of his behavior and respond accordingly. If he’s been around a lot of people throughout the day, I find that if I stop trying to “barrel through” and guide him in taking some time and space by himself, the behavior stops almost immediately.
2. Providing a special space to be alone
Create a special and safe space for your introverted kiddo to play alone when he needs some quiet time.
Now that I’ve learned to read my boy better, I can see when he’s in need of a quiet recharge and encourage him to spend some time alone playing with his trains or books – we call it “special alone time” in our house. I must tell you, he has never once battled me on it. I get him all set up, he starts playing immediately, and usually doesn’t even mutter a word to me as I leave the room. After he’s been able to play for a bit, he’s a changed boy. Completely back to himself. Presto Chango!
3. Be conscious of needs and feelings when you’re in crowds
I’ve learned to pay closer attention to my little lad when we’re in large groups of people, because for him, these are the times he tends to get a bit overwhelmed.
There are times where he’s with his sisters or close friends and has a blast running around and playing. There are other times where he stands off to himself, not ready to engage. I try to follow his ques. If he is standing by himself, I offer to hold him for a bit and then continue to check in with him until I can tell he feels more comfortable. I’ve been surprised at how aware he is of his own needs, even at the age of 2. When I ask him, he’ll tell me if he wants to stay with me, play by himself, or interact with people.
4. Offer gentle guidance in engaging with people
There are many things that I am grateful to my parents for, but one of the top on the list is the way the taught me to engage with people. Like my son, I was an introverted child and have grown into an introverted adult. My parents never forced me to engage people when I was not ready, but they did provide me with regular opportunities to learn how to socialize — how to make eye contact, use proper manners, ask people questions, and hold a conversation. Although engaging with people has a tendency to make me and my son tired, it is still a necessary skill that we all need to learn.
You can help guide your child in their social interactions with people by regularly presenting non-threatening opportunities to engage, offering ideas for engagement, and then allowing your child to engage on his or her own terms.
5. Celebrate your child’s introverted personality
Introverts have so many amazing qualities that are to be celebrated. Make sure that your child knows that you love those qualities in them and that you are so glad they are the way they are!