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E-Quipped to... Raise an Introverted Child
This newsletter introduces my article, Raising an Introverted Child, which can be found on my website.
Most parents want their children to be happy and carefree. That’s understandable. The problem comes when a parent thinks that to be happy and carefree a child must have lots of friends and be doing lots of different activities. It’s a problem because for the introverted child, being constantly active and social is stressful and exhausting.
On the introversion-extraversion personality continuum, introverts get their energy by focusing inside themselves and need alone time to recharge. Extroverts on the other hand, do need stimulation outside themselves and prefer to be with others to get their energy.
An extroverted parent may assume that their child needs the same external stimulation they themselves enjoy, but they would be making a big mistake. Rather understand the traits of the introverted child and what is considered normal behaviour and ask yourself the question: “Is my Child Introverted?” Then respond accordingly.
Image by: Sean Duran
What is Normal Behaviour in an Introverted Child?
Introverted children typically:
For 7 more behaviours read the full article: Raising an Introverted Child
The Difference Between Being shy and Introverted
Although they may at first glance look the same, being shy and being introverted aren't the same thing at all. A shy child does not necessarily want to be alone, but is too afraid to approach and interact with other children, whereas an introverted child actually enjoys time alone.
Shy children can be helped to overcome their shyness by teaching them social skills. But Introverts do not need to be helped because there is actually nothing wrong. Introversion and extroversion are personality traits and trying to turn an introvert into an outgoing extrovert can cause stress and lead to problems with self-esteem.
For more information about the difference between being shy and introverted read the full article: Raising an Introverted Child
What Parents Need to Know About Raising an Introvert
Research varies, but tends to show that 50-75% of individuals are extroverts. Because the qualities of extroverts are valued more than those of introverts in the western world, they tend to receive more positive reinforcement than introverts. As a result, introverts often feel out of place and may need to develop extra coping skills to help them feel good about who they are.
Parents also need to know that research indicates that there is a strong biological basis for where people fall on the introversion- extroversion continuum. So while they may find ways to neutralize the more extreme positions on either end of the spectrum, they will not be able to change their child from an introvert to an extrovert or vice versa. It is hard-wired. Parents should not try to change them, but should rather embrace the child’s natural preference and support them. This can be challenging for extroverted parents, and the first challenge is to overcome their (the parent’s) own prejudice.
What Parents can do to Support Their Introverted Child
Create a private space (safe haven) for your child to retreat to. This should be a priority. Introverts need to have time alone. Obviously this private space can be the child’s bedroom, but if they have to share a bedroom then create a space where the child can be alone such as a nook in the house or garden, a tree-house/shed etc. Respect their privacy and keep other family members out.
Build quiet time into their day so they can recharge their energy, especially if the household is loud and active.
Carefully select the number of activities you arrange for your child, limit their duration and build in down-time between events. Don’t be surprised if your child does not want to go out at all, and prefers to stay home.
Plan one-on-one activities with your child. Extroverted parents often assume the whole family needs to always do things together but this only ends up being overwhelming for an introverted child. A better approach is to plan some activities that each parent can do alone with their introverted child.
For more tips read the full article: Raising an Introverted Child
Signs That Indicate an Introverted Child is in Distress
Every child is a unique individual so there is no “One size fits all” list of signs that an introverted child is in distress. That said, as a parent you should be watching for the usual signs that your child is stressed, anxious and unhappy. For example:
If this is the case, remove the child from the overstimulating environment as quickly as possible. It could be putting a light blanket over their pram to block out sights and sounds. It could be going to a quieter area at the party and sitting quietly with them (perhaps without talking) or even taking them home.
I was approached by freelance journalist Katherine Graham to give information on this topic for an article in the TFG Club Magazine. I have posted her article on my website under Claire in the Media. You can read her article: Parenting Made Simple: The Introverted Child
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You may have been forwarded this email by a friend. In that case, allow me to introduce myself. I am a psychologist, speaker, trainer, coach and hat lover based in Kloof, a suburb of Durban, South Africa. I also do online counselling and coaching and I have clients all over the world.
On my website you'll find lots of free articles, posters and worksheets. I have written and created them all with the intention of helping you find your inner winner. Read, them use them, share them!
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