Instead of focusing on what your introverted child is not — like president of the debate team — focus on what they are.
As a child, many nights, I went to bed wishing my parents would somehow magically understand me without me having to say anything. You see, I’m an introvert, and I was often misunderstood.
So this article will describe everything that I wish my parents had known about raising an introverted child. At the time, I couldn’t find the right words to tell them, but now I can. I hope this list helps other parents out there.
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6 Things You Should Tell Your Introverted Child More Often
1. “I understand you even when you can’t speak.”
You must understand that the unofficial love language of an introvert is silence. To them, if something needs to be voiced or asked for, they may hesitate or not say anything at all. So, as the parent of an introverted child, it would be ideal to provide them with the comfort of not having to say anything — you just silently understand them.
In my 20 years of existence, I could never bring myself to ask my mother for a hug — but, somehow, she knew exactly when I needed one most. Believe me when I say those hugs meant the world to me. She just “got” me.
As an adult looking back on my childhood, I can barely remember the material gifts I received from my parents, but I sure remember the times they consoled and comforted me without words.
Picking up on your introverted child’s nonverbal cues and body language will serve you greatly as their parent. Plus, doing this will encourage a sense of trust in your child and diminish any feelings of inferiority they may have for being a “quiet” one who’s often misunderstood.
2. “You won’t ever be lonely — I’ll always be your best friend.”
As a child, one of my most difficult struggles was having to interact with other kids in my class. Despite wanting to, I found myself stuck in my own bubble that didn’t exactly have space for anyone else. It only had space for me — and the thought of anyone else being in my vicinity was enough for me to not want it as a reality.
I vividly recall one time in fourth grade when we had a class party on “color day” — while everyone else played board games, I sat by the side of my desk, alone. By the time the bell rang, my mind had done a pretty good job of convincing me that there was something so gravely wrong with me that I would never find a friend. (Ah, the worries we had as children!) When I got home, I reluctantly told the story to my parents. My father said, “No matter what happens, you won’t ever be lonely — I’ll always be your best friend.”
Honestly, if I believe that words can physically make you feel warmth, it’s because of this statement. It felt similar to drinking hot chocolate on a rainy afternoon. So, parents, reassure your introverted child that you’re there for them — always.
3. “I respect your need for space, privacy, and alone time.”
You’re the parent. No one else will play a more significant role in helping your child stand tall with their head held high. And we all know that we introverts are particularly sensitive when it comes to our need for space, privacy, and alone time.
Yes, we may not want to sing “Happy Birthday” in front of everyone at a birthday party or be forced to talk on the spot. Please don’t make us. After all, we do not have to be like every other child in order to get the love and affection we deserve.
Since parents are greatly responsible for helping their children establish healthy boundaries, please understand your introverted child’s need for space, privacy, and alone time. You can even help them set up an “introvert zen zone” in the house, a cozy place just for them to retreat to when they need to relax (whether that means with a good book, video game, or a nap).
4. “You don’t have to talk, but I’m here whenever you’re ready.”
I think there is no greater feeling in the world than knowing that someone is there for you unconditionally. It gives you a sense of security like nothing else — and that is exactly what your introverted child needs after an overstimulating day at school.
Yes, it may be difficult for them to voice their thoughts, but sooner or later, they will become comfortable with words and sharing their feelings with you. That is when you can help them accelerate their emotional growth by teaching them healthy ways to communicate. By letting them know it’s okay if they don’t want to speak, you’re letting them know that it’s okay to be exactly as they are — nothing is wrong with them for being quiet or an introvert.
At the same time, you can let them know that you’re always available if they do want to share anything with you. Without the pressure to do so, I guarantee they will start opening up more — but at their pace, no one else’s.
Do you ever struggle to know what to say?
As an introvert, you actually have the ability to be an amazing conversationalist — even if you’re quiet and hate small talk. To learn how, we recommend this online course from our partner Michaela Chung. Click here to check out the Introvert Conversation Genius course.
5. “I am so proud of you for who you are.”
The world outside the home isn’t always a happy place for introverts, and at times, they desperately need a place to call home. I don’t just mean one with four walls and a roof, but a place where they can be themselves regardless of any conditions. Sometimes “home” can be a few comforting words like, “I am so proud of you for who you are,” or “Great work on that English paper.”
Instead of focusing on what your introverted child is not — like president of the debate team — focus on what they are. The more you do this, the better it’ll be for both of you, and it’ll also give your introverted child the boost of confidence they likely need.
6. “No, you don’t have to do that if you don’t want to.”
It’ll come as no surprise to you that most of us introverts don’t like being put on the spot or under the spotlight. So when our parent says, “No, you don’t have to do that if you don’t want to” — whether it’s about public speaking or whatever the case may be — it’s music to our ears.
If you do put them on the spot, it may do more harm than good.
Here’s an example from my own childhood. One evening, I went to a Mother’s Day celebration with my mom. To my dismay, more than two people were present at the event. (I know, right? What a shocker! It’s not like social events are arranged for people to actually come!) Soon, the host started inviting children to the stage to talk about one reason they loved their mothers. You probably know where this is headed…
Yep, I got called on. As I was signaled to walk to the stage, I slid as far down the couch as I could — until my mother began encouraging me to go onstage. I knew then — and I know now — that all she wanted was for me to gain some confidence. But it did the exact opposite. It made me feel as though refusing would mean I was failing her, as though I didn’t have enough reasons to love her. To me, getting on stage and being in the spotlight was synonymous to dying. No thank you.
Parents, please don’t push your introverted child to do something they’re not comfortable doing. As a result, we can get on that stage when we’re ready — even if it takes days, weeks, or years to do so — versus being forced.
The More You Try to Understand Your Introverted Child’s World, the Better
Introverts, even as children, can make the best friends you’ll ever have once you begin to understand them and explore the depth of their personality. They aren’t hard to love — you just need to try to understand their world, and then gradually become a part of it.
If no one has said this to you today, I know parenting is a difficult job and I’m so proud of you for giving your child your very best. If you don’t believe me (I get it — parents always tend to think they can, or should, do more), you reading this should be proof in and of itself!
You might like:
- What Are Introverts Like as Children? Here Are 7 Common Characteristics
- Why I’m Teaching My Introverted Daughters to Take Up Space
- How Not to Overschedule Your Introverted Child
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