How to Be the Cool Aunt or Uncle When You’re an Introvert

An introvert plays video games with a child

With kids, there’s no need for small talk. Unlike with grown-ups, being silent around kids won’t feel awkward. 

If you’re an introvert, you know that it can be challenging to make friends with grown-ups, let alone with kids. Even if you don’t want to necessarily befriend children, there may be situations where you have to do it, and it can be one of the most awkward situations. 

The situation can be even more challenging if we’re talking about an infant or a toddler. I mean, how do you respond when they look at you and smile? Should you say something to the kid? If you say something, would the kid even understand you? And then what if you say something strange and seem weird to others who are around? Yet, if you turn away and ignore the child, you will come off as rude.

Having two nephews and two nieces, it was not easy for me to navigate these circumstances. However, you will be surprised to learn how much we introverts share in common with kids.

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Why Do You Want to Develop a Good Relationship with Kids?

I understand that you may be wondering: Why do I even want to be friends with kids in the first place? 

Well, kids will probably be an integral part of your life at some point, whether you realize it or not. As you grow older, you may become an aunt or uncle, godparent, or your friends may have kids. Of course, you may have children of your own someday, too. And, if the child happens to be an introvert, who else will better understand and guide them than you?

I still remember how much my nephew looked up to me. He picked up a lot of habits from me, and I see a lot of myself in him. But it’s important to understand that it isn’t all about them. You will gain a lot from the relationship, too, and the kids will bring out the best in you. Another perk? There is no need for small talk. In fact, you may even start preferring the company of kids over grown-ups. 

Now that we can better understand why we may need to create a bond with kids, let’s talk about how we can do it. This can be a bit tricky, since befriending people does not come naturally to most introverts. Below are some surefire ways to win over kids.

6 Ways to Befriend Kids as an Introvert 

1. Be their Santa Claus and give them gifts.

This is the oldest trick in the book, but an effective one. Every child probably has a never-ending wish list of things they want. Don’t wait for birthdays and Christmases to fulfill it; pick an item and surprise them with it. I mean, who wouldn’t love a Santa Claus who visits them year-round? 

If you don’t know what they like, the safest bet is to ask their parents. While ice cream or candy may seem like a great idea, maybe the child’s parents want to limit the child’s sugar intake. So, toys may be your best bet — even something small, like a Transformer, doll, or LEGO one. Bringing them something every time you visit will make them look forward to seeing you. Plus, it is a great way to break the ice and create a bond — and you can help them put the toy together if it requires assembling.

See? You have already become friends with a kid — and all without having to initiate a conversation. 

Always check with the parents to see if they are fine with you bringing their kids gifts. After all, you don’t want to promote materialism or make the parents uncomfortable. 

2. Use your listening superpower.

This might sound simple, but it’s not easy to do. Keep in mind, the world of a kid is small and simple. Grown-ups rarely know how to connect with them, as they don’t understand their world. Most of the time, we are so occupied with the so-called “grown-up stuff” that we don’t “have time” to listen to our kids. (This is also one of the major reasons kids get detached from their parents and families as they grow up, which is a whole other story…)

Just like how we want someone to listen to us, the kids also crave it. And who better than an introvert to do that? 

Listening is a primary superpower of introverts, and you can put it to good use. Listen to kids talk about their favorite TV shows, stories, and fictional characters. While these things may seem insignificant to you, it will mean the world to them. And kids love when you reference their favorite TV shows or quote their favorite characters. 

3. Get involved in introvert-friendly activities together.

For introverts, this is one of the easiest ways to bond with children — do an activity with them. And if it’s introvert-friendly, even better!

You don’t necessarily have to talk with kids all the time. Unlike with grown-ups, being silent around kids won’t feel awkward. Remember, there is no need for small talk. You can simply connect with kids by doing activities together. 

Outdoor activities, such as riding bikes, can be a good option. You can also play sports, like football, baseball, or basketball. But keep in mind not to be too competitive; kids hate losing. Another popular thing you can do with kids is to play video games, whether you do so at home or at an arcade.   

Or, if the child wants to stay indoors, there are plenty of options, too. You can color, read, watch a movie… the possibilities are endless (especially if they are introverts, you’ll probably have plenty of ideas for them!).

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.

4. Show them your skills (no magic tricks required!).

One of the best things about kids is that it’s easy to impress them by doing the littlest things. So don’t shy away from showing off your skills.

While you can definitely be that cool uncle who does magic tricks, you don’t have to be a pro at all. A simple card trick or spoon-bending illusion will do. Or, you can turn a simple sheet of paper into a beautiful piece of art. (Just look up some origami how-tos beforehand. Or, you can look up some with the child and they can choose what you two make.)

Suffice it to say, there are many things you can do to win kids over. Maybe you’re good at math and can help them with their homework. (To them, you’ll look like the smartest person ever.) Or maybe you’re good at playing the guitar and can create a song together. Just get creative and you’re bound to come up with an endless number of ideas. 

5. Take them to their favorite place.

If the child’s parents entrust you with their kid alone, then you can take them to their favorite place. For most kids, it is usually parks, zoos, or swimming pools. Some children also like adventure sports, such as racing and other rides. Or perhaps an introverted child will prefer a bookstore, library, or movie. Or maybe you can even try out a new kid-friendly pizza place or restaurant. Point being, take them on an adventure and have fun together. 

But first, make sure that the child actually likes the place where you are taking them. Everyone is different. Some children are not into adventure sports and thrill rides, and might even get anxious. Don’t force children into doing something they are not comfortable with. Apart from blowing your chance at befriending the child, you might also leave an emotional scar on them. 

Most importantly, ensure the safety of the kid at all times, for someone has entrusted this very special person to you. 

6. Encourage them to be their best selves.

Apart from helping you bond with the kid in question, young children thrive on appreciation and motivation. It will help improve their self-worth and grow them into confident adults

Research shows that motivating and appreciating kids will help them develop gratitude, become persistent, and work harder in life. Motivation doesn’t mean insisting that the kids do something they don’t like. Rather, it is about getting to know what excites them and guiding them in the right direction.

Showing your appreciation doesn’t always have to be verbal. There’s a lot you can convey through body language, such as patting them on the back, giving them a high-five, or giving them a congratulatory hug. And, after you spend the day with the child, congratulate yourself, too. You did well!

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