The Holidays can be an overwhelming time for everyone given all that there is to do and the many additional events that get added to the calendar. Even the most outgoing and social youngsters can suddenly become reserved and nervous at loud gatherings where there are new and strange faces. For children who are more introverted, these particular situations can be extra difficult and hard. Parents may need to try new and different approaches with these little ones to provide them with the support and coping skills they need to feel more at ease during this busy season and all year round.
In order to best help children who are more reserved and introverted, it is important to first understand some of their common identifying characteristics and needs. Introverted individuals really need time alone, away from others in a classroom or group setting, to reenergize and reconnect. They tend to be highly creative problem solvers who dive headfirst into their passions and develop highly-focused interests and hobbies. Also, they can make wonderful friendships and deep connections, but usually do so with a smaller circle of people verses extroverts. Unlike shyness or social anxiety, introversion is a temperament, rather than a behavior. Basically, it is a personality trait that will stay with a child all throughout his or her life.
These tips can help parents and caregivers support, encourage and understand introverted children.
- Be Patient: Forcing introverted children to be social tends to result in more anxiety and isolation. These children need to socialize at their own speed and in their own way. Parents and caregivers can best assist them by patiently supporting their pace and level of social engagement with others.
- Arrive Early: Show up early to parties and gatherings with an introverted child so that they can get the lay of the land and can be introduced to hosts in a quieter setting before all the other guests arrive. This can help calm and comfort them. It also allows the child to feel as if other guests are actually joining him or her instead of the other way around. If it is a “drop off” party, it may help to stay for a little while after the start of the party and then quietly leave once the child has settled in a bit.
- Respect Alone / Quiet Time: Introverted children need their alone time more than extraverted children. They can become physically and mentally exhausted from being around too many people or too much activity for a long time. Try to respect their need to be by themselves to refocus and reenergize and accommodate this need as much as possible.
- Support Interests and Passions: Many introverted children become deeply involved in a particular activity or hobby. Encourage and nurture this passion to help both their internal drive and self-esteem.
- Celebrate: Celebrate the personality traits of introverted children and the many wonderful advantages that come along with them. Point these traits out in others and teach introverted children that everyone is different and that is ok.
At the end of the day, each and every child is unique and must be treated individually regardless of their temperament. It can be important for caregivers to understand that children act and behave in certain ways sometimes because it is just how they are built. And sometimes it just takes a bit more patience and preparation to help an introverted child to feel safe and comfortable – feelings that are hugely important ingredients for happiness in all ages.
About the Author:
Gladys Ruiz is the Director of Little Children Schoolhouse in Brookline, MA. After more than 10 years working in Early Childhood Education, Gladys opened the Little Children Schoolhouse to provide a nurturing, loving environment—an extension of her student’s home and family life—in Brookline. Pre-K, Preschool and Daycare programs for toddlers and infants include extra activities, such as weekly music, yoga, cooking, science activities, and field trips. Both full day and part-time enrollment are available