In this blog, John Pradeep, the academic dean of Happy Cow, talks about parenting an introvert child.
Children from this generation are not just extroverts. Some of them are hyper-extroverts and amongst this huge pool, I have always found at least one parent being worried about their child being an introvert. They want their child to be as outgoing and as friendly as the majority out there.
Before I begin, let me tell you I am an introvert and I know exactly what it means.
Identify if they are being shy or are an introvert:
A common misconception is that being an introvert is the same as being shy. Both introverts and extroverts can be shy by nature. Shyness is a protective shield one develops out of anxiety stemming from the fear of embarrassment. If a child loves being active physically and being in a crowded space, but doesn’t want to go to one particular football coaching, then he/she might be shy because of the fear of rejection or of being ridiculed or of embarrassment. That doesn’t make them an introvert. Understanding the difference is crucial.
If they are an introvert, they probably will do one or more of the following:
· Watch and listen before joining an activity
· Concentrate deeply if something interests them
· Enjoy time alone in their room
· Be quiet till they are asked multiple times what they are thinking or feeling
· Dislike people sitting too close to them – discomfort with proximity
· Dislike anyone coming into their space without permission – for instance coming into the room without knocking.
· Talk a lot if the topic is something they like
· Talk a lot if they are comfortable around certain people – they trust.
What you should do:
· Provide a private space at home – Let them do what they love like reading, painting, listening to music or just lying down in their space.
· Help them find or schedule their own private time – Introverts gain energy by being alone while extroverts do so by interacting with people or doing physical activity. Consciously giving them their alone time is the way to go.
· Give them time to respond – Introverts like doing things without being pushed and without any time restrictions. Give them the time they need. Also know there is no harm in asking when they would like to respond.
· Be careful while correcting them – Introverts might be quite sensitive to corrections. Get them to realize they have made the mistake – tell them subtly or ask them if they felt if it was right or wrong, but make sure they are not continuing to dwell on the thought. Give them the space to talk. Remember to tell them you love them and that everyone makes mistakes. Even you. It is Human to make mistakes.
What you should tell them:
Research a little on how an introvert’s brain works, speak to counsellors if you want to. Keep telling them from their young age that it is perfectly fine not to be part of the crowd and not take pressures of the things/people surrounding them.
Teach them to say no when they feel like saying no, but in a polite way.
Do not try to change their personality by comparing them to or putting them along with other extroverts. That will only bring down their self-esteem.
Encourage them to request for time to respond if they feel pressurised.
Tell them while they are in a group and others answer the questions faster – it is OK.
P.S: If you are still not convinced with what all that I said, I am listing down some greatest leaders who were introverts.
- Abraham Lincoln– President of USA
- Mahatma Gandhi-Father of our nation
- Thomas Edison– Inventor
- Steven Spielberg– Hollywood film director of several Oscar winning movies
- Amitabh Bachchan– Indian Film Super star
- Narasimha Rao, Manmohan Singh– Former Indian Prime Ministers
- Mark Zuckerberg– Billionaire entrepreneur, founder of Facebook.com
- Sachin Tendulkar– Need I say more?
Introverts have shined in all the fields from sports to politics to arts to inventions. All these people have one thing in common. They saw being an introvert as their strength and not weakness.
Academic Dean, Happy Cow