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Some Dos and Don’ts for Raising Your Quiet, Reserved Child

boy-intense-studyingIn this chatty, busy, extroverted world, those of us who are more reserved may feel at times as though we have a personality malfunction.  For a child who tends more toward introversion, trying to fit in to our bustling society may lend to them feeling a lack of confidence and sense of belonging.  In the blog post “5 Things to Know About Raising Introverted Children,” author Kelly Bartlett shares some ideas that parents can use to better suit their more quiet child’s needs:

  1. They energize by being along.  Especially after a busy, stimulating, or stressful day, your child needs quiet, alone time to process their day, release stress, and recharge.
    • DO: work in some time every day where your child can have time to themselves.
    • DON’T: insist that your child should talk to you as soon as you notice a stressful situation or problem – he probably will not be able to clarify his own thoughts until he spends some time along with them.
  2. They don’t like small talk (especially with strangers).   This does not necessarily mean your child is shy.  Instead, it could mean that they like to skip meaningless chit chat and just engage in important conversation, BUT they like to develop a relationship with someone before talking about important things.  They must trust the person they’re engaging with, which leads to a cautiousness when meeting new people that may appear as “shyness.”
    • DO: when introducing your child to a person with whom a relationship is important to develop, try to create a connection first, bridging the friend and your child.
    • DON’T: label your child as shy, and force them to engage in small talk, which may cause undue stress.
  3. They process their feelings internally.   It may be difficult to read your child is feeling because she may not wear her emotion on her sleeve.   Your child takes in stimuli from the external world and retains it, tossing it around for a while to decide what they think and how to respond.  Sometimes there may be too much sensory input for the child’s internal processor, possibly resulting in an outburst that may seem random or misplaced.
    • DO: understand that your child’s feelings may not be obvious.  Give your child outlets for expression like journaling, art, or free time to help with communication.
    • DON’T: assume that if you child is not having an outburst, that she’s “fine.”  A tantrum is the last straw for your child when there is no more room for stress inside.  When tantrums do occurs, accept them and be available to listen reflectively.
  4. They prefer play dates to play groups.  Your child prefers and craves one-on-one encounters, like those in play dates, to large groups of activity.
    • DO: opt for play dates with a single friend over large groups.  Keep parties that are in your control small and intimate.  Help your child develop a few close friendships rather than a variety of acquaintances.
    • DON’T: assume that your child needs to be in the middle of social situations to be happy.  In reality, this can be very overwhelming to your child.
  5. They enjoy activities that allow their minds to wander.  Your child will welcome any opportunity to think, pretend, get creative, solve problems, day dream, or get inside their own head.  Introduce activities such as reading, writing, sketching, jump rope, roller skating, fishing, painting, bike rides, gardening, playing catch, swimming, hiking, swinging, climbing trees, or puzzles.
    • DO: Support and encourage your child’s natural interests.
    • DON’T: Force group activities for the purpose of social skills or teamwork.

At the end of her post, Ms. Bartlett provides some resources that she has found helpful in understanding introversion, including:

Another excellent resource is Kidtelligent!  The Kidtelligent Assessment gives you helpful insight into your child’s personality, and then offers parenting suggestions and tips based on his or her unique personality traits, giving you tools to more effectively communicate with your child.  To learn more about Kidtelligent, go to www.kidtelligent.com, and make sure to follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Kidtelligent for more tips!