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My quiet one in an Extrovert World

 

Imagine a 4-year-old who greets you with a huge smile and on the other hand a child who have regards for you but hides behind his dads’ leg. How do you feel about these two children? If you are like most people, you would think of the first child as social and the second shy or reserved. For an extrovert parents, Introvert kids seems to be a mystery to you. I myself have gone through this and often question myself that “we are so outgoing, then why not my boy?”

Every time, when I go to pick my son from school, I always find him sitting at one place waiting for me where I can see kids of his age playing, running around. I asked his teacher one day, she said he is good, listen and follow instruction but socially, there she gave a pause and said he is not interacting with other kids though we are trying hard for it.

We recently shifted to New jersey from India and the change in place and learning the language was initially I thought the reason for him to be introvert as I never thought him to be like that. He has been grown in a joint family so interacting with them, having conversation with him was never a problem. But as soon he started school, I figured out that My son is an Introvert child.

We live in a society that is geared towards extroversion. The society values loud and boisterous people. Think of the public-school system that overtly pushes the class participation or the work culture that encourages the concept of small talk. Our society beholds that louder and more gregarious person you are, you look more confident and tend to get more attention from the other, but we should know most importantly that about 30-50% of the population are introverts. That means there are plenty of quiet ones around you. Despite knowing this, we parents feel introvert to be an oddity. We think that children should socialize and be outgoing and if they turn out to be quieter than your friends, we think it to be a problem. We want our child to socialize, make larger groups and participate in all the activities in which other kids are participating and to be honest there is nothing wrong in it. I too want my child to play with the kids around him. We don’t want our kids to be hanging all alone, playing among themselves because that reflects badly on the parenting skills.

And if by fate, our child turns out to be introvert, we panic and rush around finding friends for them to start their social lives. We arrange play dates, join number of clubs and groups to make them sociable and act like an extrovert child.

 

They are born that way!!

Its time for us to realize that introvert people are born. It is something which is in their nature. The degree to which you are an introvert or extrovert are likely to depends on your genes. So rather than seeing them as failed social person, we should start appreciating the unique strength and the qualities that they have. We know that the introvert child spends his/her time all alone in the quiet surroundings unlike the extrovert child, but do you know the reason why?

Introversion owes a lot to biology and there is nothing wrong in it. It just how differently the nervous system has been wired for both introverts and extroverts. One major difference between the introvert and the extrovert is how they respond of neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine is the chemical released in the brain that motivates the individual to earn rewards by doing some activities. When dopamine floods the brain, the person gets more talkative, alert to the surroundings, take risk and explore the surroundings. That’s what happens in the extrovert child. Whereas the Introvert is more receptive to dopamine and needs less stimulation so therefore they re-energize being all alone.

Another difference is how they are linked in the nervous system. Extroverts favors the sympathetic side discover new things and make them active and daring. Their mind is hyperactive and always looking for the opportunity to interact. Whereas the introverts favor the Parasympathetic side of the nervous system which is also known as “rest or digest” side. They conserve the energy and withdraw themselves from the outer world.

 

Raising an Introvert child

Bringing out the best in the introvert child is one of the important things that we parents need to understand. We need to learn that we have to find ways to work or learn with them rather than against their strengths. But its true that raising an introvert child can be very challenging.

  • Accept and support: First and foremost, we parents need to do is to accept your child the way they are rather than pushing them in social convention. Pushing your child to more social life will change the fundamental part of who they are. So, we must support them in need. Although they can and will form strong friendship, but they will take their time and will prefer solitude to hanging out with crowds. If we force the child, they will get the message that they are not good enough and will lower their self-esteem. Accept them the way they are.

 

  • Work with their strength: Introvert child is so withdrawn that it is very challenging to work with them. Pushing them into task in which they have no interest will backfire and lower their confidence. Instead we should sit with the child and understand their interest and work with that. Encourage them to do something in line with the interest to bring out favorable result. For example, they can excel in karate or music rather than the team sports like football or basketball.

 

  • Don’t label your child shy: Shy is the word that carries the negative connotation. If the child hears the word shy, he/she tries to, link it with the fixed trait rather than the emotion or a feeling that the introvert child is controlling.

 

  • Respect their Preference and Privacy: Once we are aware of what our child likes and where their interest lies, we should respect their preferences. We should respect what they like and dislike and will not force them in doing anything that they don’t like. We should respect their privacy as it’s not necessary that the whole family should always do things together, but it gets very enormous for an introvert child. The best way is to plan one-to one activity with the child and give them the space and some quiet time as they learn through observation and they recharge through their quiet times.

 

  • Encouraging them to Self-express: Finding the outlet for expression is the fundamental need of the introvert child. This could be in any form whether arts, writing or journalism. In today times, social media provides the introvert child the platform to express themselves and vent out their feelings without turning themselves Extroverts.

 

Raising an Introvert child in an extrovert world is a challenging task but remember this Introvert child may not be party like but they are still quite interesting. The key to success lies in seeing the introversion as a strength rather than a disease that need to be cured.

 

Happy Parenting!!

Photo by MichaƂ Parzuchowski on Unsplash

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