Are you concerned that your child is too shy?
Maybe they’re the kind of kid who hangs back in class.
Maybe it takes a while for them to warm up to new places or people.
Maybe they prefer to read or draw by themselves instead of playing with a group of peers.
As parents and caregivers, it’s natural to worry about our kids’ self-confidence. After all, self-confidence is an integral part of growing into a well-adjusted and independent adult.
But just because your kid exhibits shyness doesn’t mean they’re insecure or that they lack confidence. They may just be more introverted than extroverted—and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that!
Eradicating the Stigma of “Shy”
In her book, “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking,” Susan Cain writes about how our society largely undervalues introversion, despite the fact that over one-third of the population is made up of introverts.
Introverts exhibit many positive traits, including empathic listening, thoughtfulness, and self-reliance. In fact, because introverts usually prefer doing things on their own, they may be more self-directed and independent than extroverts.
So, how can you give your introverted child the support that they need?
4 Ways to Support An Introverted Child
1. Create an environment where they can thrive.
A lot of children’s activities are slanted toward extroverts. It’s important that parents and caregivers provide spaces for introverted kids to feel seen and heard.
If your kid is uncomfortable in group sharing activities, suggest a 1:1 or a smaller group session instead. Many introverts also excel at writing. Encourage your child to start a journal where they can express themselves, or set them up with a long-distance penpal.
Think outside the box to find settings where your introverted child can be most comfortable.
2. Don’t try to modify their behavior.
There’s nothing wrong with encouraging your kid to make friends. But make sure you’re not doing it to modify their behavior or push them into extroversion. It’s not going to work!
Give your child the opportunity to connect with people on their own terms. They may not be the most outspoken kid in class, but they could become a much-loved companion to a next-door neighbor or a family friend. Give them space to choose who they let in.
3. Encourage them to share their thoughts and feelings.
A person can be assertive without being loud or talkative. Encourage your child to speak up for themselves, especially if they feel like they’re being bullied or ignored. Assure them they can always come to you to discuss whatever is on their mind.
4. Let them know that their introversion is a gift.
In a world that’s overly focused on extroverts, let them know how valuable introversion really is. Tell them stories of successful introverts—writers, composers, artists, even politicians. Remind them that each individual has a unique set of gifts to contribute to society at large.
Introversion is NOT a negative trait! The next time someone comments about your kid being “shy,” let them know that quiet doesn’t necessarily mean insecure. Like still waters, introversion runs deep—and strong!
Love and Blessings,
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A 3xTEDx speaker, media contributor, parenting coach, and a mom of two - helping families thrive by using the Guidance Approach to Parenting.