Parenting is a challenge and looking after shy kids is even more so.
However, introverted and shy kids are a blessing. What parents need to do is know how to interact with them.
Why Introverted Kids Are a Blessing
Society usually prefers people who are outgoing. Extraversion is a top social strength. But this doesn’t mean that being an introvert will hold your child back. The key is to focus on his or her strengths.
Shy kids have many talents but are usually unaware of them. Some try hard to become part of the popular, extroverted group.
Shy children, first of all, prefer to think before they speak. They are less impulsive than extroverted kids. As a result, they run less risk of offending others.
Quiet children are also imaginative. They have mysterious inner worlds that inspire creativity. Many gifted writers and artists are introverted. Such kids will tap into the power of their imaginations and come up with ideas that are mind-blowing.
Many of them have excellent focus, which is useful when completing tasks that need concentration. Shy kids take in a lot of information at once.
Most of all, neighbors love them for being quiet. They won’t ring your doorbell with constant complaints.
15 Things Parents of Introverted and Shy Kids Should Know
If you’re an extroverted parent with quiet children, you may find it difficult to accept their unwillingness to speak up or make friends. Parenting them is a skill. Here’s what you should know about them.
1. Being an introvert is not shameful or wrong
First of all, many people in the world are introverts. According to a study, they make up 50% of the US population in the United States. Some of our most successful leaders, like Mahatma Gandhi, Warren Buffet, and J.K. Rowling, are introverted.
2. Know that your child’s temperament is biological
It isn’t easy for a naturally shy child to attend birthday parties. Introverted and extroverted people think differently. According to expert Dr. Marti Olsen Laney, who wrote the Hidden Gifts of the Introverted Child, extroverted children prefer the ‘fight or flight’ (Sympathetic System) which makes them more impulsive.
An introvert, conversely, prefers the parasympathetic system. That makes the child think before he or she speaks.
3. Socialize your child slowly
Furthermore, introverts feel overwhelmed or anxious in new environments and around new people. Don’t expect your child to become the life of the party straight away. If you are bringing your child to a party, try to arrive early so that he or she can become comfortable.
As people come, have your child stand back a little from you. The distance may make him or her more willing to speak with others. Give your child the chance to process things as well. Is arriving early isn’t an option, talk to your child about who will come to the event. Assure him or her that everyone who is arriving is a nice person.
The first day of school is always a challenge for quiet kids. If possible, take your child to school before it begins because you want to immerse him or her in the setting.
Take him or her to the school a few days before the new term begins. Introduce him or her to the new teacher. Also, accompany them to the classroom on the first day. Assure them that all the children are friendly.
Social situations are always mind-blowing for introverted children. As expert Susan Cain says, respect your little one’s limits, but don’t let them avoid situations.
4. Let your child take breaks
Don’t push your child into social situations at once. Introverts feel drained when they are among many people. Let introverted children excuse themselves to the bathroom when they feel that everything is too much. If your child is young, watch him or her for signs of tiredness.
5. Use praise
Also, praise your child. Let your kid know that you value his or her attempts to make friends with others. Catch him, or her doing the right thing, and tell him or her about your admiration for the courage.
6. Note milestones
To build your child’s confidence, point out when your child makes progress. If you notice him or her making more friends than before, make it known. Use positive reinforcement because it will encourage your child to reach out to others.
7. Develop your child’s passions
Shy kids may have interests, contrary to what you may believe. Help your child discover their interests. Go off the beaten path, because this may open doors for him or her. Christine Fonseca, author of Quiet Kids: Help Your Introverted Child Succeed in an Extroverted World, suggests that this may bring children with the same interests together.
8. Talk to your child’s teacher
Discuss your child’s introversion with his or her teacher. The teacher needs to know about your kid’s preference to keep to himself or herself. The teacher can help with navigating your child’s social interactions and prompt his or her participation in class.
Don’t assume that your child won’t speak up in class because he or she isn’t interested in learning. Perhaps your child prefers to say nothing until he or she has understood everything. Introverted kids pay more attention in class than you may think.
9. Teach your child to speak up
Unfortunately, shy kids are favorite targets for bullying. Teach your child when to say No. Quiet children must know how to defend themselves.
10. Listen to your child
Hear what you quiet kid has to say. Ask him or her probing questions. They will make the child more willing to share his or her experiences. Quiet children may get caught up in their thoughts, without parents to listen to them.
11. Realize that your child might not seek help
Shy kids deal with problems themselves. Your child may not want to share what happened to him or her at school. Introverts often aren’t aware that guidance is helpful.
12. Don’t label
Introversion has a negative connotation. Your introverted child may believe that the behavior is uncontrollable and wrong. Also, your kid won’t understand that his or her behavior is a result of a quiet temperament.
13. Don’t feel anxious if your child has only one friend
You may worry that your child isn’t building friendships. Herein lies the difference between introverts and extroverts. While extroverts friends with anyone, these connections aren’t deep. Introverts, however, prefer to make friends with whom they can share their feelings.
14. Recognize that your child needs space
Furthermore, don’t feel offended if your child wants some alone time. Social activities are draining for introverted kids. Your child may just want some space to regroup.
15. Celebrate introversion
Don’t just accept your child’s temperament, but celebrate it. Treasure his or her personality. Introversion is as much a gift as extraversion.
Activities for Shy Kids
The internet and technology have given rise to the introvert. There are now more opportunities for them to shine but they do need help. Here some fun activities that will bring out the best in your quiet child.
1. Story Writing
First of all, you can get him or her to write stories. Writing is a solitary activity, which most introverts will enjoy. You can make it social by enrolling your child in a creative writing class. Your kid may just discover his or her passions.
2. Pet training
Many introverted children regard their pets as their best friends. Let your quiet child train his or her pet. A friendly dog or cat will help him, or she navigates emotions. Get one for your child’s well-being.
Why not let your child contribute to society? Sign your kid up as a volunteer but in activities that aren’t too social. Your introverted child can volunteer in the library. He or she will enjoy sorting out books in relative silence.
4. Enjoy art
Is your child a budding artist? Let him enjoy all forms of art. Art helps introverts express their emotions.
5. Try Solo Sports
Team sports such as kayaking are overwhelming for introverts, but solo games are not. Swimming, tennis, and karate are excellent options.
In all parenting, shy kids is a challenge, but you can overcome the trials if you tap on their strengths.
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