If you are an extrovert – your introverted child might completely baffle you? I have worked with parents who have said things like, “We are so outgoing. How did we have such an introverted child?” and “What should we do to help her?”
For starters – she doesn’t need help. At least – not for being an introverted child. Being an introvert isn’t a problem in and of itself. We are all wired differently. Some of us get energized being around others and some of us get depleted. Many of us understand these types of kids because we are introverts ourselves.
The 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 struggle.
To give you a quick cheat sheet – here are 15 things you should NEVER do to your introverted child.
Embarrass them on purpose.
Some parents have a jokey personality. They like to tease and poke fun at their kids. They aren’t doing it to be mean – they are doing it to be funny.
Unfortunately, your introverted child will completely miss the humor in this type of interaction. Worse – it has the potential to make them resent you.
Force them to have discussions with others.
I get it – you want them to be social. You want them to talk. But, forcing them to talk with others isn’t going to work. An Introverted child needs to feel comfortable in order to open up. If they are pushed into talking too soon – they will withdrawal completely.
Orchestrating social interactions.
Maybe you see another quiet kid on the playground. You think this is your time to help your child make friends. You call the kid over. Introduce the child to your child. You wind up talking for your child and the conversation is going south quickly.
There is nothing wrong with helping your child jump start a social interaction – but know when to back off and let the conversation naturally flourish or die a quick death.
Make fun of them in front of others.
There is only one thing worse than making fun of an introverted child – and that is making fun of them in front of other people. Introverted kids can be highly self-conscious and they are more likely to get embarrassed over things you might think are no big deal.
Put them on the spot in front of others.
Did your child forget to do a chore? Did they say thank you too quietly or not at all. Putting your child on the spot and scolding them in front of others will just make them want to curl up and die. There will be no learning curve in those moments. If you want to correct their behavior – address it after the audience has left.
Ask them to perform in front of other people.
Maybe your daughter has the most beautiful voice or your son tells the funniest jokes. Introverts don’t want to be on stage and do not appreciate an unwanted spotlight on them. Avoid putting them on show and asking them to perform for others. You might think it is cute – but most likely they will not.
Talk for them – when they do not want you to.
People ask your child a question and you are quick to answer for them. He’s too quiet. He’s too shy. He won’t answer quickly enough. Give your child some space to talk for themselves.
Over schedule them.
Many kids are over scheduled – but some kids flourish with an abundance of activities. In general an introverted child needs more down time. They get overwhelmed with too much stimulation and need to recharge at home.
Plan back to back activities with no down time.
If you have a busy day – be sure to plan some down time in between. Think of your introvert’s social energy as a battery. Every time they are out their battery is getting depleted. Your home is the charging station. An Introverted child needs to be recharged frequently.
Force them to go outside and play when they want to recharge inside.
A seven hour school day can be completely exhausting for an introverted child. They might want to come home and just collapse.
You might feel uncomfortable with your child just sitting on the couch or lying on their bed reading. However, that might be just what your child needs after a long school day.
Belittle their quiet demeanor.
The worst thing a parent can do is demean their child for being an introvert. I witness this all the time and it makes me cringe. Telling your child, “stop being so quiet” or “just go up and talk to them!” doesn’t help and only makes them want to withdrawal even further.
Consider them rude when they have a hard time saying hi to acquaintances.
An introverted child may have a hard time saying hi to acquaintances. People might walk past them and they might ignore their hellos. They are not being rude. Introverts can have a hard time being friendly to acquaintances. Instead of scolding them – teach them that a nod or a smile would be the polite thing to do.
Be loud and draw attention to yourself when you are around their peers.
An introverted child can be acutely self-conscious around others. When you are loud and rambunctious around their peers – that might mortify them (just sayin’).
Ask their peers questions.
An introverted kid might be on high alert around peers. When you swoop in and start asking their friends questions – this can be unnerving for your child. They might worry about what you might say or do.
You might be thinking – what could I possibly say that would be embarrassing? But remember – your idea of what is embarrassing and their idea of what is embarrassing are two completely different things entirely.
Disclose personal information in front of other people.
You might think it is no big deal to talk about silly things your child did as a baby or what cute mistakes they made when they were younger – but to the introverted child this can feel like ridicule.
Even the most mundane facts about an introverted child can be perceived as personal and private information to them.
Not all extroverted parents do these things to their introverted kids. You don’t have to be an introvert to successfully parent an introverted child.
Taking the time to read your child’s cues and learning to respect their boundaries will go a long way. Even if you don’t understand why they get embarrassed so easily or why they don’t talk as freely – respecting their feelings is huge!
Are you raising an introvert at home? What are your experiences? Leave a comment and share with other parents.
Do you know other friends and families who could benefit from learning more about the introverted child? Share this article and educate others.
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