Ten Tips for Parenting Introverted Kids


Quiet Time Ten Tips for Parenting Introverted KidsAre you the parent of an introverted child? If so, you might be interested in a guest post I wrote for Adam McHugh’s thoughtful and often funny blog, Introverted Church.

Here are a couple of the tips I posted there:

1. If your child is shy, don’t let her hear you call her by that label. She’ll start to experience her nervousness as a fixed trait rather than as an emotion she can learn to control.  She also knows full well that “shy” is a stigmatized word in our society. When others call her shy in front of her (which they will), reframe it lightly. “Sophie is great at sussing out new situations.”

2. Get to social events, like birthday parties, early. Let your child feel as if others are joining him in a space that he “owns,” rather than having to break into a preexisting group. Similarly, if he’s nervous before school starts, bring him to see his classroom, meet his teacher, figure out where the bathroom is, and so on.

For more tips, check out the full post here.

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  1. chel on 03.06.2011 at 09:38 (Reply)

    This is amazing. My issue- being an extreme introvert and having an EXTREME extrovert as a child… I’m struggling to find the balance between what she needs (people! chatter! friends!! playdates! social!) and what I need (quiet. still. alone.) I hope I am doing okay- I always feel like I am letting her down by not ferrying her to endless play dates and get togethers, but we try and be balanced.

  2. Carmen on 05.06.2011 at 20:58 (Reply)

    I appreciate this article very much. As an introvert Mom to a very introverted son (my last child), I struggle with knowing when to draw the line and try to get my son to get out of his shell.He has few friends here, because we are in a near-ghost town of 900 +/-souls. We are moving to another state in a few weeks and I’m hoping he will have a few more friends, since there will be a larger pool of people to choose from. Any ideas would be most appreciated.
    Susan, I am still loving your blog.
    Thank you so much.

    1. Susan Cain on 07.06.2011 at 21:29 (Reply)

      Thx Carmen! How old is your son? Is he still young enough for you to schedule playdates for him? If so, one idea would be for you to make friends with some of the other moms from his class and get together with them and their kids (one-on-one) outside of school. Then he’ll feel comfortable in school and also have a pal for weekends.

  3. Melanie on 01.07.2011 at 11:22 (Reply)

    I am quite introverted, much like my father (we both have the ability to project an extroverted persona, particularly in professional situations), while my mother and younger sister are very extroverted. I think I lucked out having a mom who was a preschool teacher - she had people who taught her how to deal with shy students.

    She always encouraged me to push my boundaries, but made sure she was there to hold my hand so I wouldn’t be scared. She seemed to have an innate understanding of what I needed in order to be fulfilled - she didn’t always agree, as she just couldn’t understand WHY I needed to do things - but she always supported me.

    My best example of her helping my family adapt to me was a family vacation to Florida. We spent 3 days in Disney & Epcot (yes, we’re geeks & proud of it). The first and second day all 4 of us were together - all day. We ate every meal together, stayed in the same hotel room, watched the same TV, and I’d had ENOUGH - everyone was in my way, they were driving me nuts, and I just wanted them to leave me ALONE.

    The second night, my mom decided that she and my dad would take my sister on all the rides (which I hate) the last morning, and I could have the ENTIRE MORNING to myself in the hotel room. They came to pick me up for lunch. I was so happy I almost cried! I was refreshed, calm, happy, and excited to see them when lunch time rolled around. Best vacation we had!

  4. Lori on 16.03.2013 at 16:55 (Reply)

    I’d like to read the entire post, but neither link is working! Thanks.

  5. boiseman62 on 24.04.2013 at 22:25 (Reply)

    I am throughly enjoying reading this book! But am getting extremely concerned with something. You consistently talk about others (parents, educators, etc.) not using the old “one size fits all” adage. But sometimes it would appear that in the book you and some of the experts on introverted children are doing such. There is not “cookie cutter” description of an introverted child. There is many different levels to being introverted.

    I am considered to be an INTJ but my childhood description is markedly different. I did not socialize with children my own age. Part was shyness part I felt I did not have anything other than being a child in common with them. In school I sat in the front. My hand was usually the first one up for a teacher’s question. I did not consider that I was “addressing the class” it was more of private conversation with an adult/teacher. But outside the classroom I did not talk or relate to other children. To this day, even thought all through the book you encourage parents to help facilitate this, I see no benefit in this socialization.

    My parents (mother extrovert/father introvert) did not know how to handle me. So they sent me to psychologists, counselors, etc. when that didn’t work they basically gave up on me. Well except to criticize about reading to much and not playing outside with other kids. When parents divorced the judge ordered me sent to my mother’s youngest brother’s home in TN (we lived in OH). The reason was I was considered “to sensitive/emotional” to handle the divorce process. Mother remarried to a man who used my being an introvert as a weapon. From age 11 to 18 I was told I was worthless, stupid, did not walk right, talk right, no wonder I didn’t have any friends. If I laughed what the he** was so funny, if I cried I was a baby/sissy. This was generally followed by punches, attempted strangulations, and other physical abuses. In school I was considered stuckup because I answered questions in class but did not talk to other students outside the classroom. I did not “show” my shyness/being introverted. I stand tall, look others in the eye and generally always have.

    How did I “survive” in fact go on get a college degree and flourish given my unusual childhood? First I think I had a “life path”. Apparently I amazed several counselors in that I knew what I wanted in life (nice house, clothes, car etc.). Actually not just that I knew what I wanted I knew how to get it (this occurred while in 3rd grade)and that was a college education. I became the first member of my immediate family to earn my Bachelor degree. Another reason I survived I believe was because I had an understanding of myself. By knowing my self and my strengths and weaknesses I have been able to succeed. Also by knowing myself I could allow “surface things” to be eroded by someone else but they couldn’t touch my core. When step father accused me of being stupid I just thought how I made A’s & B’s while his son made D’s & F’s. It also taught me that words are just words the only power they can have over me is the ones I give them. So not saying a child is shy in front of them because of the “negative connotations” in my book is just wrong. If you are shy own it, it is part of you it does not matter what society says. Only you can make it into something negative.

    I would say for parents of an introverted child (at least for me) these were important key steps:

    1. Help your child be proud of themselves.
    2. Help them to discover their “true self”.
    3. Help them to discover that when they are right they are right. This helps build self confidence.
    4. Let your child spend time with adults don’t force them to only spend it with children. The deep thinking of introverted child fits better with adult conversation than other childrens. This is true whether or not the child speaks or not.

    1. boiseman62 on 28.04.2013 at 00:41 (Reply)

      I had a couple more suggestions for parents of introverted children.

      1. If at all possible get your child a pet that they can hold and love. They will have someone they can talk to who does not judge them in any manner whatsoever. The child will receive unconditional love and not feel like the pet is worried about bills, work, etc.

      2. Take your child to live concerts, theatrical productions, etc. see which one appeals to them. I suspect some of our greatest actors/actresses are in reality introverts. I as an introvert have enjoyed much time on college and community stages. There are hours of rehearsals and practices. They get to use their imaginations. The greatest thing is that while yes it is them on the stage when they speak, sing or dance it is a character who actually speaks. I’ve been a lover, farmer, villain, old man, young man. You will be amazed at the confidence this builds. It also helps them in life at times to treat fearful moments of speaking as if it were simply a play and they are playing a part.

  6. Rebecca on 10.06.2014 at 23:55 (Reply)

    Hi Susan,

    Thank you for you article.
    I am mildly extroverted and my husband and 3.5 yr old are both introverts.
    My daughter, Maisie, is very good at expressing her emotions most of the time, but when she’s exhausted she can hardly speak to me (I understand this bit) and gets angry/upset very easily and at this point is unable to tell me why/what is wrong. What I need help with is knowing how to help her/respond to her when she’s totally spent. She has started preschool this past month and when she gets home, she spends the rest of the evening and most of the next day shouting at me and crying and challenging my authority on every single issue. I’m trying really hard to be understanding and to limit our other social interactions, but sometimes her behaviour is so bad/disobedient that I feel like I need to speak sternly/give her a time out etc. Do you have any tips on what to do here and especially if you know how to diffuse tantrums like this?

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1. There’s a word for “people who are in their heads too much”: thinkers.

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