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In today’s Mommy Matters, raising an introverted child. Some children are shy, but that’s not the same thing as a child who really would prefer spending time alone.
So, Blanca Cobb is here to talk about recognizing an introverted child, which we should preface by saying that’s not a bad thing to be an introvert.
What are introverted people?
Introverted people are just folks who like to be to themselves. They derive their energy by just focusing, taking time for themselves, whether it’s reading a book, whether it’s taking a walk. But it’s an activity that they do by themselves. It makes them feel comfortable.
They like being alone, and that’s okay.
But, you are going to be in social situations, especially as children through school, and it can be tough for those kids to feel like they’re part of the group.
Right. I mean, no one wants to feel left out. And as parents, you want to make sure your children are accepted and part of that group. It’s trying to find the balance for the children who are shy and introverted, so they can get into that group and be accepted.
How can you coach them as a parent to do that?
Well, one is to figure out when groups of kids are interested when.. for other people to join.
Like, for example, if you have a child that’s shy, you want to encourage your child to go to that group and say hello. And if the group opens up and faces them and their feet are pointing towards the kid, then that’s saying, “Hey, we want for you to join.”
Sometimes kids want to be by themselves. [It] doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t like your child. It means they’re just having a private moment. So, it’s being able to read those non-verbal signs.
And a lot of times, shy kids, they will, they’ll start, you know, self-manipulating or pacifying themselves. And it comes across to the other kids that they’re insecure, or they’re not sure. And so, these other children will just hang back a little bit, because they’re not sure how to read it. So, it’s also to help your child learn how to present themselves.
Smiling is huge, right. Having open body language, because it sends the message, “Hey, I’m friendly. I’d love to do something with you.”
Often times, shy or introverted children, either one, they tend to kind of crouch. They try to hide. And it’s easier for other children to not see them.
So, you kind of have to talk to them about their body language.
Because they don’t even realize it, I would think.
And eye contact is important. When they come up to a group, not only say hello and smile, but to give eye contact. It shows interest. It’s no different than adults when you’re hanging around someone and they’re closed off and they look away from you. That’s not inviting.
How do you do this without being critical of the child, though? Because you don’t want to cause them to be too self-conscious about their body.
No, you can look at books. You know, when you are reading stories to your kids. If you’re watching a show together, that’s a great time to start looking at characters and talking about body language. Because, it’s also on their level developmentally, something that they can relate to. So, it doesn’t come out as an abstract concept.
Or if you’re at a playground, give them time to adjust. When you just get to a playdate, or you’re just taking them somewhere, you know, take in the view. And say, oh look, Johnny and Mike, look what they’re doing right now. You see how their body language is open. It looks like they would love for you to go play with them.
I understand. Very good. Well, I think this could be helpful for a lot of parents. We appreciate your advice.