If you have a shy kid you have to read this letter.

Being born a shy kid is tough at times. Add an outgoing parent to the mix and it might be a squeamish existence. It is like being parented by another species.


You don’t get us and we don’t get you. In an effort to spare other kids the humility I have endured so far – I have made a cheat sheet on how to parent – what you might term –us shy kids.


Let me break down the basics free spirited, outgoing parents. You and I feel different when we are around other people. When you are around people you get charged up. I have seen your type out there at parent pick-up. Buzzing around like a busy bee. You get back into the car revitalized and full of juicy gossip. You my friend are a battery and you get recharged every time you make contact with other people.


We, on the other hand, are charging stations. Every time we are around other people we are giving off energy and getting depleted. Sometimes we like expending our energy – and other times it is frankly –freakin’ exhausting. When you have a limited commodity – you tend to use it sparingly.

So – with that in mind, let us discuss some situations that tend to go down between kids like us and folks like you:


The Playground

It is obvious that our solitary existence on the playground upsets you. I know you think you are being helpful when you shout loudly to the kid next to us, “What’s your name? How old are you? Oh, you are the same age as my kid! He likes to play that too? Don’t you? Don’t you? Where did he go?”


We are over in the shade, dying a slow death of embarrassment. Seriously, could you guys be any louder. I may be little, but I get embarrassed easily. I mean – really easily. Things that aren’t remotely embarrassing to you – make us want to curl up and die. Seriously. We love your help – really we do – but could you please try to be a little more subtle. Dial it back a notch or two…hundred.


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The Grocery Store

We can spot the danger all the way across the store. They stare at us. They make eye contact. We will your shopping cart to turn left, but usually you continue right towards the target. It is if a gravitational force pulls you closer and closer.


The stranger’s words drip out, “Ahhh he’s so cute. What’s your name honey?” We usually look at the floor, look at the ceiling. Anywhere, but at the stranger who is breathing directly in our face. And then comes your usual cajoling – “Say hello honey.” We ignore you. Wishing we had an invisible cloak. Hoping for an escape hatch.


And then come the apologies. “I am sorry. He’s not normally so rude!” As we walk away you give us your predictable scolding. You tell us we were so rude. We embarrassed you. Trust me – it goes both ways Momma.


Look, I know we need to learn to interact with people. But, give us time. Don’t put us on the spot. We are not intending to be rude – we are uncomfortable. There is a difference. You can tell the lady that we are slow to warm to strangers. Maybe teach us to just smile. We might show our teeth if we know it is not an invitation to talk more.


Family Gatherings

Ah, the family gatherings. A place full of nightmares. Where else can you have a whole room demanding hugs and kisses and asking you awkward questions. Please, do us a favor and don’t force us to hug and kiss everyone. I know you love your great Aunt and that uncle that pops his teeth out – but we don’t share your fondness.


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By the time you make us hug everyone, we are completely depleted of energy and we are ready to go. Don’t put us on the spot.


I know you love those silly dances we do or those funny jokes we tell you – but we are not trained monkeys. If you ask us to perform we are just going to embarrass you. We will throw a big – and I mean – big fit. We’ll give you an opportunity to make more excuses for our behavior – to make lovely family memories.

Our Behavior

I have noticed that you often think we are just being difficult kids. We hear you on the phone venting to your friends. Sometimes we throw huge fits when you want to go somewhere. You ground us, send us to our room and give us lectures. But, sometimes you don’t dig deep enough to find out why we really threw the fit.


Maybe we didn’t want to go to karate because the instructor always embarrasses us. Maybe we refused to get our shoes on to go to swim class because all the parents watch us and we feel like an uncomfortable fish at an aquarium. Maybe we loved the idea of a birthday party, but the reality hits us like a ton of bricks right before we had to go. You might see cake and games – but we see thirty loud, unpredictable kids and 120 minutes of no escape.


Don’t move into punishment mode until you take time to figure out what is really going on.
Our personality is our personality.


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Just like you can’t be taught to be an introvert – we can’t be taught to be an extrovert. This is who we are. We are the kids with one best friend – not a zillion superficial friends. We are the kids who sneak off during a play date to play by ourselves. We are the ones that turn a deep shade of red when someone says hi. It is okay.


You don’t have to apologize to others for our behavior. We don’t apologize for yours and there have been some cringe-worthy moments. We love that you care and sometimes we do need your help, but sometimes we are just being who we are meant to be.


Do you have some good tips on how to parent an introvert? Share with others and leave a comment.


Do you know family and friends who don’t get your introvert? Share this article and educate the masses!


Are You an introverted mom? Check out this article:

Do you beat yourself about being an introverted mom. It is time to embrace your personality! I did!

More Anxiety Articles


Additional Support

A teen support book on anxiety that your kid will actually read:

This book offers teen help, without the psychobabble. A must read for teens suffering with anxiety and parents who are trying to understand it!

If you are at a loss as to how to help your child manage anxiety, take the e-course Teach Your Kids to Crush Anxiety taught by a child therapist. Learn all the tools she teaches kids and teach them to your child. You don’t have to feel powerless.



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11 responses to “Dear Mom and Dad, It’s Me – Your Shy Kid. A Letter Every Parent Should Read.”

  1. Joanna Deacon says:

    Frankly, I don’t know any parents like this. Yes, there are parents anxious that their children should not be lonely, and they may need advice, for they may have had helicopter parents themselves, or are actually introverts acting out. That is, they go into overdrive, because they are not depleters, but are depleted themselves.

    A humane regard needs to be maintained for all concerned. Parenting is a learning curve for every parent, because you can never prepare for who your child will be and how they will be.

    It is important to instil some notion of a social contract, but one without obligation, one that involves recognising other people and their differences, and knowing how and when to step back or out. A parent is the child’s interface with the world, so a careful balance needs striking between supporting introvert behaviour and inculcating basic social skills. If parents are sent into extroversion in order to compensate for their children and help them that way, they probably need to decondition and see that they themselves were trained to act out and be gregarious. For where someone’s behaviour causes unease, the truth is it probably isn’t natural for them.

    So, the current generation of parents need to call out any projection of their being like their parents were, if their parents were babyboomers in particular.

    Frankly, I think my generation are doing a great job in the face of great adversity and many a neurological challenge. The pain of the isolation that our unremittingly nuclear families create – and the danger inherent in their imposing on the child a very limited circle of caring people – is what society has to face head on, and stop drawing crazy caricatures of people who, by virtue of being archetypes, are in fact very rarely come across.

    Cultural differences notwithstanding.


    • Natasha Daniels says:

      Hi Joanna-
      Thanks for your very insightful comment. Often my writing is more humorous and written in a more tongue and cheek style – especially under the Parenting Support and Laughs section of my website. It is not meant to offend – and I am sorry if it was taken that way. I offer more serious, less humorous parenting articles under my Parenting Approaches category.

      You bring up some very good points. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  2. Sophie van der walt says:

    My daughter (and myself) are both introverts and suffer from anxiety and also from social anxiety – my lovely, loving husband does not. He is an extrovert by nature and loves doing things spontaneously or changing our plans on the fly. This freaks out both my daughter and myself.

    I read through the letter and was able to identify with almost all of the situations you described Natasha and think it is a very humorous way to try to explain to an extroverted parent how their introverted/anxious child interprets social interaction differently and how they could make allowances for the differences while still helping their child with their social skills.

  3. […] bigger problem emerges when an extroverted parent doesn’t understand their introverted child. When you birth a child who is wired completely differently than you – parenting can become a […]

  4. Ann says:

    Thank you so much for this article. I really needed to read this. It truly helped me understand my little girl better. She is 7 years old. I believe that after reading this I will be a better parent to her. I like how it was written from their perspective. It was eye opening bc it’s a challenge for her to put into words what she feels but somehow I feel this nailed it!

  5. Nusaibah says:

    Thank you so much for writing this article Natasha. I too am an introvert and happen to have a 4 year old girl who is an introvert too and while I completely understand and get her, sadly my family members don’t and I have tried to explain her behavior to them to no end getting misunderstood. I am glad I found your article which I am going to use to educate my extended family about being shy and an introvert. Thank you again.

    • Natasha Daniels says:

      I am so glad you found the article helpful! I hope it helps your relatives understand your daughter better.

  6. kay says:

    Great article and I can relate. My mom was extroverted and in social groups. I was shy and told publicly I was rude and what’s wrong with me. She could never accept me for who I was. I was often compared to others that were talkative. I could never get a word in at home being from a large family. When I was open and silly or even loud, I got in trouble for not acting my age (even though I was a kid..I had to act like a grown up).

    When I was a teen, I found my way (read a lot of self help books) and learned social skills working with people and then later had a great career and raised my own children. When I was about 12 yr, I once joined a social group but needed money for it and was too afraid to ask my mother for the money so I dropped the club. I didn’t want her involved in my life socially.

    I will add that, to this day, (I am 60yr) thinking of those times really saddens me and was not healthy parenting. Yes, I brought it up when I had my own kids, but my parents felt they were in the right and my feelings never mattered. I was not emotionally abused but certain things did scar me.

    • Natasha Daniels says:

      Thanks for sharing your story Kay. I hope that will help some parents get insight into how to parent their kids in a way that is more effective.

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