5 Ways You Can Advocate for Your Introverted Child
The world that your children inhabit prizes extroversion over introversion. They are constantly encouraged to speak up, to join in and to be more outgoing. Many introverts find this hard and grow up thinking that there is something wrong with them. As a parent, helping your child to understand and embrace their temperament will have a positive effect on their mental health and self-esteem.
So how can you help your introverted child? One of the most impactful things you can do is to advocate for them in the world around them, not only when they are tiny, but throughout their lives. Unfortunately, introversion isn’t yet understood or valued as it needs to be. But you can be part of changing that.
Firstly, I’d like to give a few suggestions about how to help your child understand introversion. There is no “right age” to find out you are an introvert, but everyone I’ve spoken to wishes they understood their temperament earlier than they did. This is why I am so passionate about helping children learn about introversion. This knowledge allows them to feel quietly confident about who they are.
Please join me in welcoming Sophie Morris as our Beyond Introversion guest blogger. I connected with Sophie due to her passion as an introvert advocate. Her blog this month is especially poignant as we share a desire to educate and advocate for our children in order to open up new possibilities and confidence at an early age. Soak it in!
Help your child to understand what introversion is
When explaining introversion to children, keep it really simple: it’s all about how and where they get their energy. Extroverts gain energy being out and about in the world, by spending time with people and being in stimulating environments. Introverts, on the other hand, may well have a great time with others or in noisy environments, but after a while, it drains them and they need to find a quiet, calm place or activity to help them recharge. Different people need to do different things to charge their batteries.
I also let children know that around 50% of people are introverts, so they realise that there are many other people who are just like them. Giving examples of introvert role models can be really beneficial too.
Validate their experience of introversion
Help your child realise that how they think, feel, and act in certain situations is totally understandable (and in fact normal). Explain that they don’t need to change who they are. They are introverted, not broken. There are some types of activities that they will prefer to others, and some that they find more tiring than others – even if they’re having a great time.
Give your child the language to explain their own temperament to others
This will help other people to understand your child and be more accommodating of their needs. Many people still don’t know what introversion really is. If your child needs some quiet time, it’s nothing personal, it's just how they function.
Now your child is up to speed about what’s happening with them, let’s move on to advocating for them.
1. Bust myths
There are many incorrect introvert myths that come up time and time again. The most common has to be that introversion equals shyness, which is simply untrue. Other common myths include introverts being unconfident, and socially awkward loners with nothing to say. However, I think the most damaging myth of all is that introverts need to become extroverts in order to succeed.
Whenever you hear one of these myths, please call it out. You can talk about how damaging incorrect stereotypes are and mention famous introverts who have achieved incredible things.
The second way to bust myths is to remind people of introverts’ strengths. Introverts are super-observant and wonderful listeners. They are brilliant at solving complex problems and coming up with creative solutions. Introverts are also great friends as they make deep connections with others. Who wouldn’t want introverts on their team?
2. Start the conversation about introversion with others
As soon as I mention introversion is all about energy, I have really interesting discussions with others about temperament. It’s a great way to get people to open up and to educate others one person at a time. Think of the ripple effect: if everyone you talk to about introversion has a conversation about it with one or more people, the truth will spread. People will learn to better understand themselves, their families, and co-workers. Ultimately, life will become easier for everyone.
3. Help others recognise when they are using an extrovert yardstick
In most situations, extroversion is seen as the “right” way to behave, which means that your child will frequently be measured against an extrovert yardstick and found lacking. When you are aware of this happening, mention it and question if this is appropriate. It will help others realise when they are doing it so that they can amend their behaviour.
Examples include when your child is judged for wanting to spend time alone (like during lunch break, when they need this time to recharge); preferring to have a small group of friends when their little group might be the perfect number for them; or taking time to “warm-up” in a new environment or around new people.
4. How to be an advocate within your home
Ensure your introverted child’s needs are respected within your own household. If you are a family of introverts, this will probably already be happening; although the potential issue with this is that you may be allowing your child to hide behind their introversion if this is a behaviour that you exhibit. If you hear your child say “I can’t do that, I’m an introv