1. RESERVED MANNER
The report card comes home, and the common theme is: “Your child needs to come out of her shell” or “Your child needs to contribute more in class”. In other words, your child has a more reserved manner, doesn’t contribute a lot in class (not because they don’t have their own ideas, but for a variety of reasons they choose not to share them), or prefers a quieter environment to a group brainstorming activity. Often these traits are mistakenly dubbed “shy”, and while there are shy kids, not all introverts are shy. Introverted kids don’t always feel the need to fill the space with words.
2. NOISE SENSITIVITY
You notice that your child becomes quiet or begins to shut down when there is too much noise, too many distractions and too many people. An over-stimulating situation can be stressful for an introvert, for example, being put into a situation where they have to meet new people. While extroverted children will complain of being bored, an introverted child’s sensitivity to their environment can often overwhelm them. Typical signs of this are: loitering around the outskirts of a room, becoming quiet, avoiding eye contact, and also clinging to people they know (such as parents).
3. SPOTLIGHT SHY
Your child gets nervous about having to standing up to accept a certificate in an assembly or in class. Introverted children are often hesitant about social events such as this, and while this restraint might be frustrating for a parent, there are benefits. Introverts will not easily accept the spotlight, in fact, they often actively avoid it, and when they are in it, it can be a source of anxiety. While in our society, extroverted traits are generally highly valued, introverted traits should not be undervalued. Introverted children may be quieter, but in their silence they are learning through observation, they are actively thinking and listening, and they will not quickly jump into an activity they have not thought through. A potential plus for parents is that this can mean their child is less likely to succumb to peer pressure.
4. PREFERS ONE ON ONE
Around the dinner table, when the inevitable “How was your day?” is asked, they do not delve into their experiences immediately. While short answers may be discouraging for parents, rest assured in the fact that introverts prefer to turn to close friends and family (that’s you!) for support. Introverts feel at their most comfortable when they are having a conversation one-on-one. When this conversation is happening, remember that introverted children like to ponder before answering a question. Introverted children often do not feel at their most eloquent when speaking, and will ask questions such as, “Do you know what I mean?”.
They are not the first ones to jump into a group activity, or take the lead in a sports game, and they prefer time to play with their toys alone. Introverted children like to step back and learn through observation, while extroverted children will lead the charge and learn while they are doing. When your child does take this step back, it does not mean they will never participate; it simply means they are clearing their head and gathering information before taking the plunge. Give them time to think. They may also need to process their doubts, and you as a parent are the perfect resource to soothe their fears and give them an encouraging nudge forward to participate. Introverted children work best alone, but still need support and feedback. Their solo thinking and solo play is an important part of recharging their batteries.
6. INTERNAL PROCESSOR
If your child is not forthcoming with their emotions, it can be because they are introverted. Introverted children are internally processing creatures, and talking about their emotions can be tricky – even to those they most trust, such as a parent. It is important that they don’t feel pressured to talk. Instead, an open and accepting environment must be established where children can come forward when they are ready. For this environment to be sustained, children must know that you’re there for support, and that you won’t turn them away when they are ready.
Reference: Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverted Kids, by Susan Cain.