Parents of multiple children are often keenly aware of some very strong personality differences in their children. In an outing with their children, parents may notice that some children come home excited and full of energy, but perhaps one child seems drained, and less enthusiastic than his siblings. Understanding how this happens lies in understanding the difference between introversion and extroversion.
Extroverts are often stimulated by factors outside themselves, whereas introverts get their energy by focusing within. While extroverts are eager to get right back in the game, introverts often need some alone time to recharge.
The majority of people – about 75% – are extroverts and often society seems to value the qualities extroverts bring to the table more than that of introverts. An extroverted child may receive more positive reinforcement from those around them, leaving introverted children feeling as though they are out of place, or something is wrong with them. Since introverts are not always willing to volunteer their thoughts and feelings, adults may have to reach out to them to really discover their unique gifts and talents. Parents should be aware that introverts often feel overwhelmed by sights and sounds and may tend to narrow their experiences, but on a positive note, they tend to probe deeply into those areas on which they do choose to focus.
Characteristics of an Introverted Child
While some parents may wish to change their introverted child, to make them more adventurous and outgoing, in reality, it is simply not possible to convert an introvert to an extrovert, or vice versa. Common characteristics of introverted children include the following:
- One-on-one is the most effective form of communication
- They have a strong ability to listen
- Often need time to think about things before answering questions
- Prefer to keep their feelings to themselves
- Possess a high level of self-awareness
- Ability to learn well though observation
- Tend to be quiet in large social settings
- Will often observe an activity before participating
- Often concentrate deeply on matters
- Consider inner reflection to be very important
- Choose activities with great care and thought
Building on Your Introverted Child’s Strengths
A great way to encourage introverted children is to build on their natural strengths, for example, being innovative. Introverted children often thrive in the areas of art, music, science, literature, and various physical activities.
Keep in mind, however, introverts are sensitive and when planning activities, you should be cautious to not exceed their threshold for outside stimulation. Allow them some downtime to process their experiences before moving on to a new activity.
Remember that introverts need their parents to be accepting of them and understand that some people do well in large crowds, and some people don’t, and that’s ok.
Introverts need to feel free from pressure. They need a more relaxed and patience pace. A rushed and tense atmosphere tends to drain their energy quickly. For the sake of your introverted child, slow down a bit and allow them to bring more of their world to you. Once you can better understand how the introverted child perceives things, you may be amazed at how insightful they can truly be. You’ll notice perspectives that are often humorous and creative.
Simply being aware your child is an introvert is half the battle. Once you’re aware, you can help children accept themselves as they are and let them know they bring incredible value to the world. It’s critical to have empathy and understanding for each personality type within a family unit and thus make your introverted child feel more comfortable in a world of extroverts.