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My Introverted Child: A Journey to Understanding

By Lori Garcia |

I never really thought Boy Wonder was different than any other kid. As my first born, I figured all kids enjoyed playing by themselves at home.

As he grew older, I began to wonder if there was something more to his homebody tendencies. He’d shrug away an invitation to a theme park or a trip to the beach with a casual, “I just don’t want to go.” He played alone at daycare and could often be found observing rather than engaging.

When he began having difficulty making friends in school, I wondered if his introverted tendencies were cause for concern. As a creative child, Boy Wonder always preferred the company of colored pencils and a sketchbook to other people or outside influences.

Being that my husband’s dealt with the pain of social anxiety, we were careful not to force Boy Wonder into intense social situations. Instead we focused our efforts on encouraging his art and independent spirit. While we made the conscious decision to tread lightly, neither of us wanted to stand by and watch our son miss out on vital childhood experiences.

As much as we didn’t want to change Boy Wonder, we knew the challenges that lay ahead for a boy solely consumed by the contents of his own head. It’s not that my son was sad; he wasn’t. He was joyous, expressive, excited by ideas and fixing things; he was a practical jokester and an awesome storyteller. He loved books, cartoons, Legos, and video games. By most counts, he was a normal boy: a normal boy whose creativity was sated by solitude.

I wondered with raging guilt why he couldn’t be more like his extroverted brother, a wildly social child who was able to take the burden of social situations off of me. Mom mistake #1: Comparing your children. Enter more guilt.

There’s no denying extroverted children are praised in our society. Social kids are chosen to engage in fun and exciting opportunities and are often viewed as natural born leaders. Would Boy Wonder be overlooked or discounted due to his introversion? I knew just how special, intense, and fragile his spirit was, but would the world ever know? The burden of these fears haunted me as I delicately tried to encourage him outside of his comfort zone. I’d never want to change the person he was designed to become, but I prayed that in time, maturity would allow him to blossom.

Last weekend we had an unexpected breakthrough. For the first time in his 9 years, Boy Wonder mentioned wanting to have a birthday party and invite three friends, “But only three,” he repeated cautiously. Tears pricked my eyes as I turned to my husband and mouthed, “OH MY GOD!” Three friends. A birthday party. Progress.

I realized then that my son will find his way in his own time, through his own journey. Maybe his home and his art offered all the stimulation he needed for first nine years of his life. But maybe those first nine years won’t define the next nine. For the first time ever I’m confident they won’t. Progress.

If you’re the parent of an introverted child, I want to share this amazing video with you on the power of introverts by Susan Cain. Susan makes a compelling case for how introverts process stimulation differently, citing examples of how solitude is critical to creativity. I think differently and positively about Boy Wonder’s unique personality as a result of this video; I hope it brings you as much insight as it brought me.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0KYU2j0TM4[/youtube]

For additional parenting insight, check out 7 Rules to Follow When Raising an Introverted Child with valuable tips and reminders for raising children in our extroverted society.

Do you have an introverted child?

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About Lori Garcia

mommyfriend

Lori Garcia

Lori Garcia is a writer and mother of two living and loving in Southern California. When she's not fussing with her bangs, you can find her shaking her groove thing on her personal blog, Mommyfriend where she almost never combines true tales of motherhood and mayhem with her degree in child development. Read bio and latest posts → Read Lori's latest posts →

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5 thoughts on “My Introverted Child: A Journey to Understanding

  1. Sharon says:

    Thank you for this awesome post! Honestly it has helped me see the light at the end of the tunnel! I have 3 kids a very outgoing daughter, my oldest, a very outgoing son , my youngest, then my very soft hearted son, my middle baby. I always thought I had done something wrong that made him so introvert! Thank you for showing me that he is just fine!

  2. Sleepydad says:

    Thanks for sharing! Our oldest who is turning three is a raging extrovert. His little sister, 6 months, is too early to tell, although she enjoys sitting quietly observing brothers activities

  3. Catriona says:

    Thank you so much for the article. My son is very shy andat 4.5 he gets very anxious with new people/situations, any sort of applause or cheering and being in front of a group. I worry quite a bit but I keep reminding myself that not everyone needs to be a YouTube star. Too often we overlook the quiet, kindhearted people in our lives but I think they keep us extroverts sane! As long as he’s happy, then I’m happy for him. Nice to know other moms share in this anxiety. It’s always a comfort to know we’re not alone!

  4. Alley says:

    I’m an introvert to the nth degree, and my daughter is a hybrid. She’s extremely creative though, so when she’s making something with her hands (not just a mess, lol), she’s extremely focused. When Mere exhibits introverted tendencies it’s easy for me to relate and fun for me to marvel about how alike me she is. But when she exhibits that extroverted side… I tend to attempt pulling my hair out. lol.

  5. Lindsey says:

    I really can’t stand how so many people view introversion as some kind of mental or emotional disorder that needs to be overcome. It’s not, it’s a personality trait that the world is very capable of accommodating. I’m an introvert and I’m not socially crippled, I promise, nor is the vast majority of people who wait to speak until they have something worthwhile to say. There’s nothing wrong with your son, there’s nothing wrong with my son, and there’s nothing wrong with me. Social anxiety is a different issue, but having a reserved personality is not a problem.

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