Living a Quiet Life
7 tips to teach introverted children how to get out of their comfort zone.
Posted Jun 30, 2020
I am an introverted adult, and I write a lot about introversion and what it means to grow up introverted in an extroverted world. Frequently mischaracterized as shy, introverts can also be characterized as aloof2. In truth, these typically creative and highly introspective individuals bring a very different type of energy and social interaction to home and school environments. Supporting our introverted children begins with a clear understanding of the similarities and differences with introversion.
Introverted children differ from extroverts in their daily energy patterns, communication styles, and learning strategies3. Introverts renew through solitude, prefer to think before speaking, and learn best through watching. On the other hand, extroverted children are high-energy users who renew through social connections, engage in chatty patterns of communication, and learn through doing2. Their differences in interaction with an extrovert-oriented world can often leave introverts to believe their more reserved nature is somehow wrong or bad1.
The following tips can help parents support the naturally quiet nature of our introverted children, while also helping them advocate for their needs and thrive in an extroverted world:
1. Establish healthy lifestyle habits early: Start on the right foot by making sure the child is practicing healthy lifestyle choices early. These habits will help create emotional wellbeing for introverts. Healthy habits include the following:
- Adequate, high-quality rest daily. For introverts, this means as much as 8-10 hours each night.
- Eating well-balanced meals. Introverts function best with many small, protein-rich meals throughout the day.
- A balance of exercise and relaxation every day. Do not push group activities on the introvert, but do encourage physical movement throughout the day. Most introverts live in their head most of the time. Getting movement will ensure better internal balance.
- Ge plenty of play. Laughter is good for the soul. Play and laughter are especially crucial for the introvert who will often take life too seriously.
2. Teach about locus of control: Teach the child to discern between the things within his control versus those things outside of his control. The Hula Hoop™ technique can help:
- Imagine there is a hula hoop on the ground and step into it.
- Everything outside of the hula hoop you have no control over.
- Everything inside of the hula hoop you have 100% control over.
- The next time you are angry or upset, think about the hula hoop. Is this something you have control over, something you can change? If so, make the needed changes. If not, let it go. There is little you can do anyway.
3. Learn to manage areas of intensity: If your introverted child is gifted or highly sensitive, help them deal with all of their intensities. Here are a few specific strategies to help:
- Teach the child that his feelings are a normal part of his/her personality.
- Build activity into the day.
- Teach relaxation techniques.
- Allow for creative thinking and creative outlets.
4. Learn effective conversation techniques: Teach your child the art of conversation and practice it everywhere. Here are a few things to keep in mind when learning how to converse with almost everyone:
- Use short sentences.
- Ask one question. Say one thing. Repeat.
- Practice really does make perfect.
- Challenge your child to strike up one new conversation a day. They can do this anywhere — the grocery store, on the ball field. Anywhere.
- Watch and coach your child as they master these skills.
5. Help children engage with the world: Teach your child to control their inner chatter. Most introverts spend too much time self-analyzing their day. Teaching them the art of letting things go will not only help them function in an extroverted world, but it will also give them a greater sense of peace.
6. Support children with introversion: Teach your children about their introversion. Make them aware of their unique needs and how to prepare for things. For example, if you plan a day at Disneyland, work through the day with your introvert. Help him/her prepare in advance for the day — how will they renew during the day? Do they need headphones, extra healthy snacks, water? Will there be opportunities for downtime? How will this be achieved? With proper planning, introverts will be more than able to handle the exhausting world of the extrovert.
7. Help children embrace an introverted life: Finally, teach your introverted child the following tips. Review them as often as possible:
- Accept yourself and others as you are.
- Do not take yourself too seriously.
- It is okay to speak up for yourself.
- Learn to quiet the mental chatter.
- Balance social time and quiet time.
- Social media can help provide a social outlet with less energy drain.
These tips can help you support your introverted children as they interact with a world that may misunderstand them. For more strategies or information about introversion, check out Susan Cain’s book Quiet or my book, Quiet Kids.
1. Cain, S. (2012). Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that won’t stop talking. New York, NY: Broadway Books.
2. Fonseca, C. (2013). Quiet Kids: Help your introverts child succeed in an extroverted world. Waco, TX: Prufrock Press.
3. Laney, M. O. (2002). The introvert advantage: How to thrive in an extrovert world. New York, NY: Workman Publishing.