Self-awareness is an important part of parenting. Knowing, understanding, and accepting our children and ourselves is key in being supportive and successful parents.
Society places emphasis on extroversion where at times it has become the ideal. Extroverted people are praised for assertiveness, group acceptance and external accomplishment rather than quiet reflection, solitude, and careful decision-making.
Introversion should not be seen as being a weakness but rather a different style of communication and a way of being that is as much a part of who you are. It is important to embrace the positive attributions that your introverted children have and equip them in recognizing their inherent strengths.
Author Jenn Granneman succinctly describes introversion as, “Introverts live in two worlds: We visit the world of people, but solitude and the inner world will always be our home’’. Introversion does not necessarily equate to being shy, although some introverts are shy as are some extroverts. Author Susan Cain further defines introverts as, “being sensitive, contemplative, modest and calm, and spend a lot of time thinking and reflecting. They can enjoy social occasions but crave restorative time afterwards’’.
There are many strengths that introverts possess namely:
- Introverts spend more time alone and time thinking. They often engage in imaginative play, prefer playing alone or with just one or two other children, doing solitary things like reading, drawing or playing computer games. Spending time in solitude often allows introverted children to use their imaginations and as a result, they often possess creative talents.
- Allowing themselves time to think, helps them think through problems and find creative solutions. Some introverted children may even want to understand themselves, everyone and everything around them.
- Active listening is a valuable skill, and most introverts are naturally good at it. Introverts listen and think before responding, which in turn makes them valuable and trusted friends.
- Introverts also rely on their inner resources and their thoughts and feelings often anchor them. Their decisions would be based on their own standards rather than following the crowd. This can be a positive aspect of their nature because it means they’re less vulnerable to peer pressure.
- Introverted children take time in warming up to new people. They may be quiet and reserved when you first meet them, but as they become more comfortable with you you will see their personalities shine. Often their aim in conversation is to better understand their own or someone else’s inner world; they value connecting and really strive to get to know someone on a deeper level.
In summary, it’s important for parents of introverted children to help them see how their support and understanding can be a source of strength. Words of praise, acknowledgement and encouragement are key in reaffirming that you accept them for who they are, for their unique and special strengths. In doing this as parents we are embracing our introverted children for who they are and giving them the confidence, they need to successfully make their mark and take their place in ever demanding world.
By Kerri Evangelides, Educational Psychologist at Crawford Lonehill