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.
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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