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Signs your child might be an introvert and what to do if they are

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Is your child more social at home than outside? Do they prefer interacting with their family and close friends rather than with others? They can be introverted.

“By itself, introversion isn’t a problem,” explained Emily Mudd, a pediatric psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic Children’s Center for Pediatric Behavioral Health.

This kind of temperament “is a genetically inherited trait, and there’s nothing to change or be ashamed of,” she said. Newsweek.

An estimated 75% of individuals can be classified as extroverted, according to the nonprofit Center for Parenting Education.

“More often than not, their qualities are valued more than those of introverts,” the center’s website states, so extroverts “receive more positive reinforcement from those around them.” This can leave introverted personalities feeling out of place and needing extra coping skills to “help them feel good about themselves.”

Here, experts explain how to tell if your son or daughter is introverted and offer parenting tips for raising an introverted child.

A girl sitting alone, away from other children in a classroom. Introverted children may be more socially active at home and more reserved in public.
iStock/Getty Images Plus

What is an introvert?

The most common definition of an introvert is “a person who is tired of socializing,” Mudd said. They may need more quiet or downtime to recharge their energy.

Dr. Arthur Lavin, a pediatrician at Akron Children’s Hospital, said Newsweek that being introverted or extroverted simply describes “a person’s preferences for [their] moment of relaxation, rest and recovery of energy” – which is “very different from the question of shyness”.

An introvert is someone who finds rest, relaxation and recuperation in “environments with fewer people around and even alone,” he said.

What is the difference between introverts and extroverts?

Extroverts recharge their energy by socializing. Lavin described an extrovert as “someone whose preference for feeling relaxed, energized, and rested is to be in the company of other people, sometimes even many.”

Mudd pointed out that this introversion and extraversion are on a spectrum. While some identify as being on one side or the other, “most people tend to fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, depending on the circumstances.”

Children playing with building blocks. When your introverted child takes social risks, you should praise him.
iStock/Getty Images Plus

What are the signs of an introvert?

A key indicator that a person is introverted is that they seek “time alone or with a few very, very close people when they want to relax,” said Lavin, who is also chair of the Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Health. of the child and the family. at the American Academy of Pediatrics.

A common misconception is that introverts don’t like to socialize, “which isn’t necessarily true,” according to Mudd.

She explained that introverted people might:

  • like to spend time alone
  • Work more efficiently and/or feel more creative alone rather than in a group
  • Being less likely to be assertive in group social situations
  • Highly value close and meaningful relationships.
A girl holding a toy, interacting with grandparents.
A young girl holding a toy while interacting with grandparents. Introverted children can greatly appreciate close and meaningful relationships.
iStock/Getty Images Plus

How to tell if your child is introverted

Mudd said introverted kids might:

  • Prefer to interact with family or close friends rather than in larger social situations
  • Be more socially active at home – being silly, dancing, talking or joking – and more reserved in public.
  • Not “following the crowd” as teenagers, making decisions based on their own tastes and interests, rather than what’s “popular”
  • Be aware of yourself and reflect on yourself.

A 2020 study by researchers from the National Institute of Mental Health and the University of Maryland suggested that “an inhibited temperament in early childhood predicts a reserved and introverted personality in adulthood.”

A boy sitting alone on a school desk.
A boy sitting on a bench at school. Introverts tend to be self-aware and self-reflective.
iStock/Getty Images Plus

How to Raise and Help an Introverted Child

Below are Mudd and Lavin’s tips for raising an introverted child.

Nurture your child’s introversion

“Optimal parenting” is when a parent is “aware of their child’s personality preference and supports their choices to pursue those preferences,” according to Lavin.

If your child’s preferences are “solidly to rest alone or with very few, very close friends,” Lavin said, the key is to recognize that “this is who they are, this is what they love. , this is what gives them rest and allows them to revitalize themselves.

“All a parent has to do at that point is let it be.”

For example, instead of telling your child to “get over it” and join a busy family gathering, sit with them while they observe for a few minutes and “validate that they can get over it.” act from an overwhelming environment,” Mudd suggested.

Celebrate your child’s temperament

Introverted children are often empathetic, thoughtful and focused, among other positive traits, Mudd pointed out.

Don’t shame or underestimate your child for being introverted

It is important not to portray your child as shy. It often has negative connotations and “labels your child as who they are, rather than declaring a behavior,” Mudd said.

Instead of saying “He’s just being shy” to a family member or friend, try saying something like, “He’s assessing the situation right now and he’ll step in when he’s ready,” she suggested. .

Don’t force social interactions

Introverted children may not like interacting in large groups. Keep that in mind when planning birthday parties, holiday gatherings or other social events, Mudd said.

Don’t overload your child

Leave plenty of room for downtime and relaxation without social interaction, Mudd advised.

“The major mistake” some parents make is trying to fit a child into “an imaginary average measure of the right number of friends or social engagements,” Lavin said.

You can encourage your kids to play, sign up for activities, and more, but “let them decide how enjoyable such an activity is for them.”

take things slow

Mudd recommends introducing your child slowly to new social situations and praising them for taking social risks.

Tell the teachers

Talk to your child’s teachers about her personality so they can nurture her in the school setting, she added.

Teacher with kids in gym class at school.
A children’s physical education talking to a child while others play on a gym mat. Make sure teachers know your child’s temperament.
iStock/Getty Images Plus

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