I used to think quiet kids were all shy. We’ve all seen the quiet kid tuck his head behind his mom’s leg when someone asks him a question and he doesn’t want to answer. But, it wasn’t until I had three “quiet” kids of my own that I learned there is a lot more than meets the eye behind these so-called quiet kids of mine.
I sometimes forget that I was once a quiet kid, too. Looking at my personality now, that might be hard to imagine, because I tend to have no problem talking to people I’ve just met, and often interact with people when I’m out and about even when they might not want me to.
I married a man with a more naturally quiet personality. He is soft spoken, doesn’t yell, and doesn’t feel the need for attention in general. Quite the opposite of me. So, when my first child came along and she used to sit and whisper as she played independently with her toys, I was stunned. How could these quiet kids be mine?
It’s been an eye-opening experience as I watch them grow and navigate the world around them. And, I’ve learned a few things about quiet kids in the process. There is more than meets the eye to the quiet types, and there are a few things that I wish the public in general would understand about my quiet kids.
1. They aren’t necessarily shy.
Shyness and having a quiet disposition sometimes do go hand in hand, but I don’t consider any of my kids truly shy. Maybe they tend to be a little more reserved, sure. But, once you get to know them, they are anything but shy. In my eyes, they are just more the observant type. They wait in new situations to see what’s going to happen before jumping right in, but once they figure things out, they aren’t afraid and they don’t hold anything back.
2. They are always listening and internalizing everything.
Don’t mistake my child’s quiet nature for being unobservant or not hearing you when you talk to them. And they definitely hear you when you whisper to me, “Oh! She must be shy!” or some other comment about the fact that they aren’t talking to you. And just because they are sitting quietly in the room, be careful what you say. They are totally listening.
3. I’m not going to force them to talk to strangers.
A few years ago, when I realized it made my daughter really uncomfortable to talk to strangers in social situations, I stopped forcing her. What’s the point? It’s usually to make the stranger feel more comfortable. Just know that we are constantly working on helping her grow and pushing her to get out of her comfort zone. We try to encourage her to do things like order for herself at a restaurant, and ask for her own to-go box. But talking to a random person they don’t know at the grocery store isn’t our top priority.
4. They have a lot going on inside that quiet exterior.
As my daughter got older and began to read and write, I realized there was actually quite a lot she was thinking and feeling. Her more introverted nature just didn’t allow for her to talk about her every thought and feeling like her mama does. But through journaling with each other, and watching her start to write her own stories, it’s helped me realize that quiet kids perhaps have more insight into the world around them than we give them credit for.
5. They just don’t feel the need to be the center of attention.
My husband is anything but shy, and he’s actually quite friendly, he just doesn’t feel the need to compete for the spotlight. I think my kids are the same way. They thrive more with one-on-one interaction. If there is a lot going on, they aren’t going to fight for everyone to listen to them. They will sit back and just enjoy observing. But pull them aside and start a conversation with them, and you’ll realize they have a lot to say.
6. They are actually anything but quiet.
Anyone that has stepped into my house after my kids have their post-dinner energy burst will vouch that my kids are anything but quiet in the comfort of situations that are familiar to them. For example, when I see my daughter with her closest friends, I’m amazed at how chatty she is. When I see my boys playing at home, I want to put in earplugs.
7. They are worth getting to know.
The thing that frustrates me the most about raising quiet kids is that I see adults in their lives missing chances to get to know them because it takes a little bit more effort. Some kids, you don’t have to do much and they will spill their secrets, dance, sing, and tell you all about their favorite tv show, even when you didn’t ask, until you wish they would stop talking. Not my kids. But, if you take the time, you will see that they really are amazing humans.
For example, ask my daughter to talk to you about the latest story she wrote, or about one of the three books she’s reading all at the same time, and you’ll watch the minutes tick by as she explains everything in beautiful detail. My 7-year-old loves figuring things out. If you can talk to him about things that make him think and problem solve, you’ll have his attention all day long. And the four year old? Well, he’s still too young to talk about current events, but he loves to show you how to write his name, and he loves learning about letters and numbers and feeling like a big kid. Throw a ball with him, and he’ll be your best friend.
8. Quiet kids want to tell you about their hopes and dreams.
Try to talk to them about things they care about, not just things you care about. My biggest piece of advice would be to figure out what makes them tick. My own kids are expert shoulder shruggers when you ask them questions like, “What’s your favorite subject in school?” But, if you ask my daughter to tell you about the last book she read, or ask my son about his favorite video game, he will more than likely give you an earful.
They want someone to listen. They want to have a relationship with their teachers, coaches, and other adults in their lives. So don’t pass up the opportunity to get to know that quiet kid in your life. You might just find the most amazing person you’ve ever met inside a little, quiet exterior.More On