5 Things to Know About Raising Introverted Children

July 12, 2012 at 6:31 am (General)

Wouldn’t it be nice to directly establish social expectations right from the start of a relationship? “Hi my name is Kelly, and I’m an introvert.” This would be my introduction of choice, except that it seems as though I’m admitting to some sort of malfunction. Plus it’s slightly awkward.

I also have an introverted child, and I’m trying to raise her to know that being reserved is not any kind of malfunction. She should be confident in who she is and not think she has to change in order to fit in to this chatty, busy, extroverted world. The best thing I can do for her is to show her that I understand; I know where she’s coming from, and I know what she needs.

If you also have an introverted child, here are some things to understand in meeting their needs:

1. Introverted kids energize by being alone. Some people unwind and recharge by connecting with a group of friends or going out. Not so with introverts. When they have had a busy, stimulating, or stressful day, they need alone time. Not down time, as in a low-key get together at home with family or friends, but alone time. Singular and solitary. And it’s not a like, as in, “I’d like to be alone now,” it’s a NEED. Introverted kids need time to process the activities, interactions, conversations, information, and their emotions from the day. This is a giant stress release, and not getting it is treacherous for an introvert’s psyche.

DO: Work in some time every day in which your introverted child is not engaging with anyone else. This may be alone in their bedroom or playroom, or it may be in the same room as you while you take a nap or read a book. Alone time can be together if there is no engagement with the child.

DON’T: Insist that your child should talk to you as soon as you notice a problem or stressful situation. He won’t be able to clarify his thoughts until he spends time alone with them. “How was your day at school?” is much more effectively asked after a child has a quiet car ride home or spends an hour climbing trees.

2. Introverted kids don’t like small talk (especially with strangers). This does not mean they’re shy. It means: 1) they like to skip meaningless chit chat and just stick to the important stuff, and 2) they like to develop a relationship with someone before they talk about important things. Introverts need to develop a connection with someone before they’ll talk comfortably. There must be a trust that that person will listen, a trust that she’ll understand, a trust that the child will be taken seriously. This leads to being cautious in getting to know new people which looks like “shyness.”

DO: If  you’re introducing your introverted child to a person with whom a relationship is important to develop, aim for creating a connection first. Be the bridge between the friend and the child; when he feels safe, he will come over.

DON’T: Announce introverted children as shy, and don’t make them “perform” small talk. It really does feel like a performance and create stress.

3. Introverted kids process their feelings internally. You may not be aware of what a child is feeling because she doesn’t wear her emotions on her sleeve.

Just to compare: an extroverted child takes in stimuli and turns it right back out at the world. A disagreement with a friend? Loud angry words right back atcha. An exciting ride at the fair? Boisterous chatter, laughter, shouting. Enjoying a great movie? Vibrant narrations and commentary throughout.

By contrast, introverts take in stimuli and retain it; they toss it about for a while to decide what they think and how to respond. Sometimes sensory input may be too much for an introverted child’s internal processor and may have nowhere to go but out. Overstimulation appears in the form of an outburst that may seem random or misplaced. But it’s really too much emotional turmoil that has built up and for which there is no more room inside.

DO: Understand that your introverted child’s feelings may not be obvious. To help with communication, give kids outlets for expression like journaling, art, or lots of time for free play with toys and characters. (At our house, we also like pounding nails into a stump!)

DON’T: Assume that because an introverted child is not having an outburst that she’s “fine.” A tantrum is simply the final straw for an introvert; it’s what happens where there is no more room for stress inside. When they occur, accept them wholly and be available to listen reflectively.

4. Introverted kids prefer play dates to play groups. One-on-one encounters allow people to get to know each other much more deeply, which is the kind of interaction introverts crave. I would venture to say that the deeper levels of relationship only occur in one-on-one encounters, introvert or not; that it is impossible to truly get to know a person when you’re always in the presence of others. But for introverts, single-friend play dates are less stimulating than being in a large group of activity and are more conducive to meaningful conversation. This is an introvert’s need that balances out their other need for alone time.

DO: Opt for play dates with a single friend or family over large groups of kids and parents. Keep birthday parties small and intimate. Help your introvert develop a few close friendships rather than a variety of acquaintances.

DONT: Assume that being a social butterfly is akin to happiness for your introvert. The more people they encounter, the harder it is for them to process the interactions and enjoy the time with everyone.

5. Introverted kids enjoy activities that allow their minds to wander. Any opportunity to think, pretend, get creative, solve problems, day dream or otherwise get inside their head is welcome. Great introverted activities include reading, writing, sketching, jump rope, roller skating, fishing, painting, bike rides, gardening, playing catch, swimming, hiking, swinging, climbing trees, puzzles…the list goes on.

DO: Support and encourage your child’s natural interests. Be open about what those might be.

DON’T: Insist on participating in group activities for the purpose of social skills or teamwork. While it’s true that team sports do have a lot of value, not participating is not automatically a detriment. There are so many ways for a child to assert her talent, learn new skills, and develop her strengths.

Here are some resources I have enjoyed that are very helpful in understanding introversion:

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain. And here is a post Susan wrote on
Ten Tips for Parenting an Introverted Child  as well as her awesome (and daring–for an introvert) TED talk based on her book.

The Highly Sensitive Child, by Elaine Aron (Being highly sensitive is not the same as being introverted, but they are usually closely related. Chances are your introvert is also highly sensitive.)

Hidden Gifts of the Introverted Child, by Marti Olsen Laney

You may also be interested in my follow-up post on parenting extroverted kids


  1. Jennifer said,

    This post really has me thinking about my 4 year old daughter. I’ve always thought of her as introverted (as am I, though not hugely so). What I’m finding is that she does like time alone, but she really seems to need one-on-one time with me to recharge. As she is the second of three children, time alone with me can be challenging. This is a good reminder to keep making the effort.

    • Kelly said,

      Jennifer, I find the same thing…that my daughter recharges with some one-on-one time with me, almost more than having time alone. I think it’s because she talks and I listen. I always take her seriously and validate her feelings, so it’s huge for her to be able to “unload” in this way. It is definitely a challenge to find that time, though, especially as kids get older and schedules get busier. At the very least, we schedule dates once a week just for our one-on-one time.

    • Laura said,

      I can totally relate with you on this one. 1st child Extrovert – 2nd introvert – 3 really a combination. interesting how that works. She also wants time with me to recharge and as you, I find it hard to find the time. Recently, we just had movie and popcorn night together watching girly shows since, the boys were all gone. And we chatted about the movies — it was fun. Also ran out shopping with her or hang-out and just bake together.

      • Anita said,

        I feel like all three of you have described MY family (and my introverted second girl-child) to a T! Amazing!

  2. Lara Krupicka (@amusingmom) said,

    What great information! As an introverted mom of at least one introverted child, I feel so supported and understood by what you’ve written. And even though I know what I need as an introvert, I sometimes forget my kids will need some of the same things.

    You’ve relieved a huge load of mommy guilt for me with this. Such a practical post.


    • Kelly said,

      Hi Lara, thanks! I think this topic is not talked about nearly enough…for adults but especially for kids. Introversion is a huge part of temperament…it’s the fuel behind the needs that drive a child’s behavior. Meet the needs and the behavior changes. A simple concept but not widely understood….maybe I will write more about this. 😉

  3. Karelys Davis said,

    I am amazed at how the more I read and seek ways to be a good parent (this is my first kid in Sept!) the more I learn about how to handle myself!

    I am an introvert and I couldn’t tell why I am so happy as of late. Well, I do get quite a bit of alone time and down time and one on one time with my husband. It helps me feel ready and energized to go out and hang out with friends!

    It used to make me sad that I couldn’t understand what made me so angry, sad, dissatisfied in general and what made me happy because I couldn’t replicate it. After reading this I think I know what to look for in myself. That way, if I feel good and relaxed and happy I can pay closer attention to the needs of my husband and baby 🙂

    • Jennifer said,

      I too find that parenting teaches me a lot about myself! The 5 Love Languages of Children is a book that has taught me more about myself, my husband and other people close to me than it has about myself.

    • Kelly said,

      Karelys, I find the same thing! In my quest to read and learn more about parenting and children, I learn so much about myself! And that is SO much of being the best parent we can be for our kids: understanding and meeting our own needs. “If I feel good and relaxed and happy I can pay closer attention to the needs of my husband and baby”…You nailed it!

  4. Help For Families Canada said,

    Hi Kelly,
    I just want to say I love this article. I will share it with the parents in my parent coaching prgm. I am an introvert too. Being misunderstood as a child was one of my drives to become a child therapist. I agree with your points but some of the ones that struck home for me are: not labelling your child as ‘shy’, encouraging independent private expression of feelings (journalling), and understanding we don’t like small talk. Often other assume because we don’t like small talk that we are not ‘friendly’ which is so not true. Anyway, thank you.


    • Kelly said,

      “Often others assume because we don’t like small talk that we are not friendly which is so not true.” Oh, this hits so close to home for me, Tania! I often think most people view me as ‘different’ (unfriendly) for not being chatty & sociable with friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc. But when I make an effort to ‘fit in,’ I feel too different from *myself*! It is tough, and I just want more people to understand where an introvert is coming from. I especially want introverted kids to grow up with confidence in being who they are!

  5. Laurie said,

    As an introvert married to an introvert, I “get” my introverted kids most of the time..The hard part is dealing with extroverts, some of them family members or close friends that get offended with introvert quirks. Whether we like it or not, we need to be able to master “small talk” enough to survive and not appear completely rude. I am struggling with this with both of my kids..my daughter freezes and looks like a deer in the headlights if someone asks her a direct question and my son goes into full surly teenager mode. Any suggestions for how to meet the extroverts in the middle on this one?

    • Kelly said,

      Yes, Laurie, I agree! Knowing how to make small talk is a valuable skill to have…it just stakes introverts a while longer to master it. 😉 To help, we can “meet them in the middle,” as you say. So, when a child is faced with a small-talk-moment, you can offer some of your own commentary to help supplement your child’s silence and create more comfortable moments in which to help her share her voice.

      Basically, you’re adding your voice to the conversation–not to “take over” and speak for her, but to help break the conversation into smaller, more doable parts. Your small talk is that ‘bridge’ to their small talk. You’re simplifying their side of the conversation. So, it might go something like this:

      Stranger: Are you have a good summer? What have you been up to?

      Child: [Silence/ Unsure of what to say/ Withdrawal]

      Parent: [Stepping in with a “bridge”] Oh, it’s been really busy! We’ve had fun so far though, haven’t we?

      Child: [Nods]

      Parent: [Continuing to help child find her voice in the conversation] Let’s see, what have we done so far? Hm…we took a train to go visit Grandma, that was fun.

      Stranger: Oh, where does she live?

      Child: California

      Stranger: I bet she enjoys having you come visit.

      Child: Yeah

      Parent: [Agreeing] Yeah, it is really nice to see everyone and spend time with the whole family together. [Thinking out loud] What else did we do while we were there?

      Child: Um…We went to the water park. And we saw a play!

      Parent: Oh yeah, that’s right!

      Stranger: Well, it sounds like it was a great trip!

      Anyway… you’re aiming to create smaller opportunities to speak, rather than an overwhelming moment in which a child feels like s/he’s in the spotlight. Different than rescuing by speaking 100% for a child, or stepping aside 100% and turning the floor over to her; a parent’s participation in the conversation eases some of the stress off a child’s shoulders. You’re then able to model small talk while engaging children at a level that’s comfortable for them, help them find the words, and set an example of how to have a conversation quickly yet politely.

      It’ll take time and practice, but years of engaging kids in conversations this way will help them learn the basics of small talk. They may never like making small talk, but at least they’ll know how to do it confidently.

      • Laurie said,

        Thank you! I like the idea of the “bridge” Speech pathologists call what you describe “scaffolding”.it happens fairly naturally with a younger child, but I will try to be more aware that older kids can still need that bridge. It works out OK many times if the other person in the conversation is patient..I guess I was wary of taking over or letting her rely on me to rescue her..but I will try to be more mindful of how I might jump start things instead of feeling like I have to jump in and take over.

      • C said,

        Kelly – this is really helpful. Teachers need to learn this, as I have received feedback over the years for each of my kids that they need to participate more in group discussions. I’ve always brushed off the comments because I know that my kids are just not comfortable in a group setting – that they need to process things before being able to contribute. I’ve always incorrectly classified their behavior as being shy, but now I know I should be telling the teachers that they are introverted. Now I can give them a suggestion as to how to help my kids participate…


  6. KathyMarie said,

    I really appreciate your article. I’m an introvert and my oldest son is also. I see where my husband (extrovert) and I have handled some issues poorly with him in the past. Eye opening info here. Thanks!

  7. Julia Swancy said,

    I had identified my oldest as an extrovert– he is frequently loud, boisterous, and overwhelming to me. But this is the second recent article that describes him to a T– as an introvert! I think his loudness threw me off and I completely misunderstood this fundamental characteristic in him. He has been perceived as rude since he was small because of his refusal to engage in small talk or talk at all to strangers (“Why in the world would I do that?!” lol), and although he claims to like having several friends over he gets flustered and overwhelmed EVERY TIME. Thanks for the insight! Now to adjust course 🙂

  8. Julia Swancy said,

    Reblogged this on One Unschooling Mom and commented:
    Just getting the clue that my oldest is actually an introvert… *mindboggle*

  9. Francesca De Grandis said,

    Great piece, so applicable to grown up introverts too!

  10. Julie said,

    Thanks for this article, Kelly.You’ve succinctly and clearly nailed so many aspects of introversion. As an introvert myself, and the mother of a introverted teenage daughter, my feling is that, no matter how well intorverts come to understand and accept their own introversion, we unfortunately live in a world where extroversion is assumed to be the norm and the preferred way of being. As you imply in your openig para, intorversion is often (always?) viewed as some type of “malfunction”.

    Whilst I have always worked to help my daughter understand and accept her introverison, she is left in no doubt as to what “most people” think of the trait (even possibly some “in the closet” intorverts, who have invested enormous emotional energy denying and hiding their introversion).

    One of the hardest tight ropes, I find, is balancing your need to live true to yourself as an introvert without offending those around you. One example: you are invited to a party and would rather not attend. How do you decline without offending the person who invited you? Do you say a white lie to get out of it (and how often can you do that and still appear credible?) or do you risk telling the truth (i.e. that you are an introvert, and that parties exhaust and stress you?). Unfortunately, to do the latter is to risk being thought “weird” in some way. I think we need a huge community awareness campaign to educate the extroverted majority about the intorverted minority. Articles like yours are a step in the right direction. Thank you.

    • Kelly said,

      Julie, thank you for your thoughtful comment. It is so true…extroversion is absolutely the “acceptable norm” in our world, and I find it a struggle every day to balance fitting in with being myself. I agree 100% with everything you said…especially that more people need to understand! I think Susan Cain’s book, “Quiet,” along with her TED talk have helped so much with that.

    • Lori said,

      I’m a bit late in the conversation, but I thought I’d offer something up for fellow introverts, especially because I’m seeing a lot of negative views of where we fit in the world.
      For some reason, I’m frequently asked to lead things, I’m trusted for my opinion, and I’m often considered the one who “gets things done” (even though I often don’t). I’m often confused by that public image, because I’m aware of all the things I don’t know, but people often think I do know these things.
      Anyways, without getting into too much detail, I read later that “one way to look smarter than you are” (one of those articles) is to pause before you speak. Even if you know the answer right away, pause. Then people will think you’re smarter. It’s an image thing.
      So the point is that introverts, depending on the degree of introversion, can actually get along in this world quite wonderfully, simply because they don’t always speak right away and therefore actually take the time to get the information right before offering up ideas. I spend a good amount of time listening to discussions at work before piping up, and it does appear to make me more trusted for my opinions.
      Having worked in both corporate and non-profit cultures, my introversion seems to get good results in many instances (except the ones where I get overwhelmed – but I’m definitely working on that!)

  11. d.p. said,

    On establishing social expectations right from the start: Every now and then I think it would be great to carry around “business” cards that explain my introvert tendencies/social quirks and just hand that out to people I’d like to begin a friendship with.

    • Kelly said,

      Ha, that’s great! Let’s get the important things cleared up right from the start I say. 😉

  12. Meeting an Extroverted Child’s Needs « Parenting From Scratch said,

    […] a follow up to my post last week about raising introverted kids, here is it’s counterpart on what you need to know about raising extroverted kids. By nature, […]

  13. chelle said,

    I came across your post on the extrovert child first then clicked over to this one…I enjoyed them both…What I’ve been trying to figure out lately is what does this introvert momma do with her 2&1/2 extrovert son ?!? He loves to go! go! go! and I love to stay home. I do try often to get out of my comfort zone and take him out a couple times a week… on the days we stay home he is..difficult… has many meltdowns and stands at the door begging to go but week after week after week of going going going i am exhausted and I’m starting to have my own ‘meltdowns’…I have 2 littles and they always want to be up on me and I just want a little personal space for 20 minutes or something…I’ve been trying to meet other mommas to try and establish a mothers morning out kinda swap (I’ll take your kids for 2 hours on Tues if you take mine on Thurs…) but beside it being so difficult for me to approach other mommas out at the park or local kids museum to build a relationship so that maybe oneday,,,this plan just hasn’t been working out for me so far….any suggestions/tips

    • Kelly said,

      I am the same as you…I am introverted and also have an extroverted son. So know where you’re coming from about staying home and needing some personal space!

      1. Re-examine my expectations. Since having kids, I have come to understand that things just aren’t going to be the same anymore. 😉 While I still do need a lot of down time and space, I had to come to a new understand of what this would look like for me. When I accepted my new version of down time, I was much more able to handle the simulating, busy days.

      But They are still HARD for us introverts, so a few other things have helped:

      2. I found a lot of actives for us to do in which my son can play and I can watch (or be as involved as I want to be). Like going to the playground so my kids can play and I can sit on a bench and observe. I especially like going during “off” hours so it’s not so crowded and overwhelming. I also like the zoo during non-peak hours…not crowded & nice to walk around alone, and is always a great time for young kids.

      3. Set up as many opportunities as possible at home for kids to be active & stimulated on their own. We would have several “sensory areas” like bean or rice tubs with small toys in them, water table with pouring cups, an indoor swing and rings to play on, indoor trampoline, etc…All of these are pretty self-sustaining, meaning I don’t have to DO anything to keep him busy. I usually just sat on the floor nearby where I could be close, but not engaged every minute.

      4. Have alone time every day. When my son was young, alone time didn’t last very long, but it was important to do anyway. I needed it! We got into the habit and now that he’s 6 alone time can be much longer. When he was 2-3, he spent some time alone listening to books and music every day.

      5. We found several drop-off opportunities every week. Classes, playdates, and a gym membership (with in-house childcare) helped SO much. Another thing that I know other moms have done is to hire a mother’s helper or babysitter to some for a few hours each week or so.

      6. No mater what, at the end of every day, I am WIPED, mostly because of my introverted nature and the daily stimulation of raising kids. So our kids have always had an early bedtime (by 7-7:30), and my husband and I quiet evenings vegging reading or watching TV. The early bedtime is a lifesaver!

    • Carrie said,

      Do you have any neighbors with young children? I had the best luck doing a swap with other women in my neighborhood when my children were very young.
      Another option would be a young neighbor who could act as a mother’s helper after school so you can go in your room and be alone for 20 minutes. I just used my 12-year-old neighbor for that very purpose and it worked great. I was still close enough to be able to intervene if the kids needed me, but I could have a little breather, too. Good luck! 🙂

  14. Susan said,

    Brilliant article. Thank you.

  15. Chuck Dunning said,

    Hi Kelly,

    Thank you for this! I was an introvert child raised with many extrovert expectations, and it touches my heart to see your advocacy for young introverts. Here is something I recently wrote that resonates with your words, “On Bias in Our Extroverted Society”: https://www.facebook.com/notes/chuck-dunning/on-bias-in-our-extroverted-society/10151909627905263

    • Kelly said,

      Thank you, Chuck, and great post! That was very thorough and something I could really relate to.

  16. Rachel said,

    This is a great article. Thank you. Other than the book The 5 Love Languages for Children, where would one go to figure out their personalities? I think I need to do that first in order to help and understand my children better.

    • Kelly said,

      I know “The Highly Sensitive Child” has a questionnaire in it that will help you identify characteristics of your child’s temperament. There’s also this Myers-Briggs personality quiz, if you can answer form your child’s perspective: http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/jtypes2.asp

  17. Irena Dunkley said,

    This makes so much sense! Thank you!!! My 3 year old daughter went to school twice a week for a year (since she was 2) and while she spoke 2 languages, sang and danced at home she never once during the whole year spoke to any one in the class. They were surprised to hear her chat when we went for her last day in school. Thank you so much for your article! It helps so much! I should have known, I didn’t pressure her thou. I am kinda the same way. Thanks.

  18. Heather Cleckler Newman said,

    Thank You Thank You Thank You!!!! You just changed my whole world with just a few short paragraphs!!! I am most defiantly an Extrovert that somehow gave birth to a highly sensitive Introvert! He is 6 now and we have been through so many trials with him. I see now that I am the problem. 😦 Mommy never wants to be the problem!!! I am working on them, however. After a very confusing year of Kindergarden I will be homeschooling him from now on. I just seem to be what is best for him at this time. Any help suggestions or words of wisdom are Welcome.

  19. Billy said,

    Only in America would the basic human requirement for space and silence be defined as ‘introverted’ !

    • snc said,

      In India and amongst my Indian family, no one gets me. I’m either treated like I’m weird or arrogant, am not accepted and was even punished by my parents for wanting to maintain the level of privacy and space I need in my life as an introvert. I’ve had to grieve multiple times that my own parents don’t get me. It took some crazy outbursts with my partner for him to finally start getting me. I’ve given up on my in-laws and peers ever getting me. The culture in general is too loud for me and there is no concept of personal space within it, especially for women. People talk loudly even in temples, yoga classes and other places of meditation and worship. As an adult in my 30’s I finally snapped and couldn’t take the forced social expectations and interactions anymore and cut off from everyone – family, extended family, peers from school, uni, pretty much everyone who I’d felt forced to play a made-up role with my entire life. A few months later I gradually started re-establishing contact with only immediate family members. They still think it’s a phase.

      I’ve now met a European girl in the US who is an introvert and she seems very comfortable in her skin. As much as I’d like to be friends with her, I sometimes hesitate to hang out with her, because there’s no longer space for fake talk with her and I still have some unlearning to do with respect to old habits of meaningless chit-chat.

  20. Patricia said,

    Soo understand as I’m an extrovert but having read this article in the past few days my relationship with my 5 yo has deepened – I soo needed to understand him more – we can learn so much from our children – its opened my eyes and it’s something I was not aware of. I’m now planning more one on one playdates and I don’t push things when we wants alone time – I never understood this need til now. More reading for me but this just opened my eyes and readied my heart more as always knew he was sensitive from a very early age.

  21. oliviagreypritchard said,

    This is well-written, great info. I DO think there’s value in occasionally making a child participate in something with which they’re not entirely comfortable — in order to grow and be able to adapt to their environments, which will not always be something a parent can control. But doing that in a way that lets them know you’re always behind them and supporting them, showing them you understand how they think and feel (or at least that you WANT to understand)…well, that helps them feel confident enough to be able to deal with things. A group activity like Sunday school or Mother’s Day Out makes them stretch themselves…following it by a few hours of alone time recognizes their needs. Thanks for writing this, I know quite a few introverted children and this is spot on!

  22. Jane said,

    Hi Kelly,

    I have 3 and a half year old twins – one extrovert and one introvert. We also have an 18 month old who is probably an extrovert but has introverted tendancies.

    Do you have any tips on how to help the introverted twin realise that he needs some time to himself and how to help the extrovert know that this is what is needed? They don’t like to spend too much time apart and the introvert needs to have the extrovert around to give him confidence. He panics if the extrovert is not around.

    I am an extrovert and find it so hard to balance all the needs in our family. Any tips would be appreciated.



    • Kelly said,

      Hi Jane, I think a lot of that will come with time. Your kids are so young right now, they need help identifying and understanding their needs. So for a few years you’ll have to help them with this. Just ensure that everyone get some alone time as well as some focused family/ together time every day. You might even ease into alone time by making it not really “alone” for your introvert at first, but by making it special one-on-one-with-mom time. Gradually your introvert will learn that s/he is capable of being away from his/her twin and is capable of being alone and even enjoys a little time away.

  23. saacnmama said,

    My son was like that for a long time. He’s 9 now and now wants time to think before talking to me.
    I think this shift is an indicator of natural stages. When he was a preschooler, he was still “part of me” in many ways. Now that he’s becoming more independent, it makes sense that he doesn’t want me in his head during his alone time, even if he’s sitting right next to me in the car. Even though I still help him work through difficult emotions, we aren’t connected in the same way, so even though I feel for him and want to know what’s going on with him, he needs me to take a step back and let him be before we talk about things.

  24. Jan Johnson said,

    I teach parenting in a women’s prison. Loved what you wrote!

  25. Kari said,

    I’m an extrovert, so needed these insights. My son is the class clown at school but then is “done” and needs “me time” (his words) after that.

  26. marandaelizabeth said,

    Thank you so much for writing this! I’m a definite introvert, and of course was an introverted child as well, though not much was understood back then about my need to be alone, and my preferences for interacting in only small groups or one-on-one, and my avoidance of small talk. Reading your blog entry has helped me understand so much more about myself and the way I grew up, and what I need to do to take care of myself as an adult.

    I wrote more about being an introvert here, including tales of an introverted childhood, learning how to set boundaries and say no, finding meaning in it all & feeling hopeful: http://marandaelizabeth.com/2012/10/14/on-being-an-introvert-part-one/

  27. Amanda said,

    As an introverted adult who still can’t see eye to eye with her parents – I am really excited to email them this page in hopes of gaining a new understanding. Thank you

  28. Janene Sutton said,

    We are the parents of an introverted 7yr old girl. We have a problem in knowing what would should accept from her when communicating with people. Even with Grandparents and people she knows very well she has to be prompted to talk and say hello – and quite often the reply comes out as a grunt or so quiet no-one can here her. Do you have any advice on what we should accept as appropriate communication and what we should excuse her as an introvert.

    • Kelly said,

      It might be helpful to have conversations with her about this issue for her. Let her know that you understand that she would prefer to listen to conversations rather than participate in them. But let her know that at least a little bit of participation is usually necessary, as it is appropriate social skills and just good manners. The two of you can talk about what you prefer and what she is comfortable with. Start with the basics of conversation…just a greeting. Ahead of time, let her know that, “I know you don’t like to talk a lot, but we’ll be seeing Grandma today, and it will be important to greet her. You don’t have to stick around and talk with us, but you should definitely tell her, ‘Hi Grandma!'”

      In between social encounters, like when it’s just the two of you in the car or at home, you and she can practice simple answers to typical “small talk” questions. It sounds like she might need a lot of help understanding and practicing how to give simple answers that she’s comfortable with. Help her come up with some standard answers to “How is school going?” “What did you do this weekend?” “What do you like about (her favorite hobby/ activity/ sport)?”

      Start with the expectation of a basic greeting, then continue to support and coach her in the art of conversation as she grows. Practice and time help the most!

  29. DK said,

    My daughter is 10yrs. She has always been comfortable in a single friend or a one-to-one friend play. If she calls her friends home, we need to entertain them as she is just sitting on the couch. Her outdoors are minimal. Prefers being home. I am worried that as she becomes a teenager, this habit should not take a different direction of not discussing anything at home too.

  30. Lou said,

    It has been wonderful to read this post. I too have learnt a lot about myself through parenting my children and reading Quiet by Susan Cain was so affirming. I realise I have other self-esteem issues but I have really struggled to accept my introversion in this exrovert culture. Throughout my life I have made myself SO wrong for being who I was and that feeling is so ingrained in me now it is hard to shift. I haven’t found it easy to accept being quiet when everyone is talking about how wonderful the people are who are ‘out there’, have lots of friends, have lots of fun etc. etc. I don’t know if I was just sensitive to the comments but it’s all I ever seemed to hear. My children are now 10 and 12 years but when I saw emerge in them those same introvert qualities it caused me so much sorrow as I didn’t want them to suffer the same humiliation I felt (I considered myself a ‘loser’ because I couldn’t be the person everyone seemed to revere). Since reading Susan Cain’s book I have been able to accept these qualities in my children more readily but I just hope I haven’t done too much damage. They understand they are introverts and I think this identification helps give them self-acceptance. It is something I would love to explore more with other parents – does anyone know of group where these issues can be discussed? I’ve tried HSP but I can’t seem to find any discussion groups.

  31. Sibby said,

    I’m an ambivert, ENFP, married to an INTP. We both enjoy being at home together, time to think, one to one interaction rather than groups…but there are many differences. I need to be alone to process information but I also need to talk in order to process information. I find this to be quite challenging in our relationship! I have actually found that I need to write out what I want to say to my husband ahead of time so that he doesn’t get overwhelmed by the flood of information going on inside my head, and this has actually helped me develop as a person as well. He meets me more than half way, I feel, by letting me talk things through. I’ve done a lot of research on MBTI and introversion and I have a lot of empathy for introverts, as well as deep respect. As a big fan of Harry Potter, my favorite character is the introverted Luna Lovegood. Luna only says something if it is thought out and important. In the movie The Half Blood Prince, Luna goes over to Harry to say hello and says “Oh no, I’ve interrupted a thought, I can see it growing smaller in your eyes.” Imagine a world where everyone is perceptive and considerate! Introversion is truly a beautiful gift.

    • Lou said,

      That’s interesting Sibby – as an introvert I don’t like to verbalise inane things but find it necessary to verbalise thoughts that are troubling me as does one of my daughters. I realise it can be wearing on my husband but I didn’t think of it as an extrovert quality. Is this so according to your reading?

      • Sibby said,


        In short, most folks who talk in order to process information are extroverts or they lead with an extroverted function (according to myers briggs.)

        I’ve read different definitions of both introversion and extroversion. Some see introversion as the need to recharge your batteries with too much external stimuli and extroversion as a need for external stimuli to feel energized. If you look at the myers-briggs system, it is all about the functions you use to experience and interact with the world we live in. (If you want more information, either links and sources or my experience in determining my type, please let me know.) It can get confusing, especially since there is an overwhelming, and at times contradictory amount of information and opinions on the subject. According to my understanding of myers briggs, (I am not an expert) there are introverts who need to talk to process information (INFJ is an example). I hope this helps?


  32. clara said,

    I find this information very helpful i am an introverted myself although i am in my early 30s i feel social situtions very tiring, i found childhood stressful i grew up in a south american country were being quiet was seen as strange also my parents didn’t help nor they didn’t know anything about this subject but always believed in myself and my potencial as a human being. Thanks so much.

  33. cassie said,

    I love this, my husband is having such a hard time connecting with our son. I hope this helps him understand him better

  34. Outgoing, Ingoing, and Middlegoing | Our Vintage Life said,

    […] depending on the situation.  So, if they’re with a group of kids they don’t know well, my introvert will need to push herself to show she is friendly, while my extrovert will need to restrain himself to allow others to share […]

  35. bunnykissesaustralia said,

    Wow 🙂 Thank you for this x

  36. What Do You Mean, “She’s an Introvert”?! | CTWorkingMoms said,

    […] 5 Things to Know About Raising Introverted Children […]

  37. Clare Hancock said,

    Thanks so much for sharing this. I am an extrovert parent of an introvert child. It is a BIG learning process for me but I’d like to try and get this right early on and especially know how to introduce her so people don’t find her “rude” but also so that she feels valued for being herself.

  38. Mary Carpenter said,

    I actually scored 18 (low) for extroversion on ths test: http://www.assessmentday.co.uk/psychometric-test.htm whilst my son scored 35 (high). It has been pointed out by Jung that we can have an inward-facing personality and an outward-facing personality which we can turn on/off when required. Perhaps that is where some of the ‘differences’ between parent and child are occurring.

  39. Hayley Komen said,

    Thank-you for writing such an important article. I was an introvert growing up and preferred forming close friendships with one other child at a time. The school I went to decided this was unhealthy and separated me from my best friend, hoping that I would make friends with the other kids. I didn’t, and I’m still friends with this same person 34 years later. I was also often called a snob when I was growing up and endured my mom’s embarrassment of me when I didn’t socialise easily. For a long time I thought I was inadequate. Now that I’m all grown up and have an introverted child of my own, I finally realise that being introverted has benefits, such as being able to work/play alone for hours on end without needing to be entertained by somebody else, and having an in-built sense of caution that can be life saving. I’m working hard to make sure my little introvert feels good about himself despite society’s bias.

  40. juicygreenmom said,

    So well said!! It is hard to remember that it is totally normal to be introverted when everyone is poking and prodding your child for a response. Thanks for writing this!

  41. LIFE: getting to know my highly sensitive child | juicygreenmom said,

    […] since I read Parenting from Scratch‘s article “5 Things to Know About Raising Introverted Children“, I knew I had to do more reading on the topic. I’ve known that my daughter was […]

  42. Nancy said,

    This article really interest me. I have an introvert teenager child and these knowledge help me a lot on how to deal this kind of personality. Big thanks to the author

  43. kent said,

    This site is interested. I have my introvert child and these knowledge help me a lot. thank you for your post

  44. colton mccoy said,

    Something else introverts like is video games, it promotes creativity and problem solving skills. And don’t tell me video games are to violent, violent video games are but you don’t have to buy them, and the people who sell you the game will ask you if its ok for your child.

  45. allthewaydoc said,

    I just put two and two together and realized that my son is an introvert just like his mother 🙂 It totally makes a difference in how I relate to him and what I expect of him currently.

    Great post!

  46. Stacey said,

    Excellent post. Really helpful. I need to follow up as an extroverted but shy parent of a truly introverted daughter. Is there an email where I can ask for some thoughts on an issue related to school? Thank you.

  47. Janet said,

    Thank you for this. I really liked the part about overstimulation in an introvert can sometimes appear as random outburst, from an overloaded sensory system. I can relate to this looking back to childhood and also see it in my 2 eldest. I wonder if this can be a negative cycle if not enough alone time is available: outburst leads to internalisation and more fuel to the overloaded system? Probably the only solution is time alone to process the feelings.

  48. Gemma @ Pretty Bobbins said,

    Thank you so much for his article. I am struggling to parent my introverted (eldest of three) child through an international move. You words are a good reminder that I really needed right now. Thanks again!

  49. texicana2013 said,

    Reblogged this on My School of Thought.

  50. What our introverted family needs you to know | Unschool RULES said,

    […] Parenting From Scratch: 5 Things to Know About Raising Introverted Children […]

  51. Melody said,

    “DON’T: Announce introverted children as shy, and don’t make them “perform” small talk. It really does feel like a performance and create stress.”

    I was (and still am) very introverted, and my parents ALWAYS announced to the world that I was “shy” when introducing me to someone new that I wasn’t sure yet how to respond to, and it really did make it seem like I was being watched to see just how shy I was – and of course, people always did their best to make me blush and then laughed at me. So I stopped going out altogether, and now I can’t stand to meet new people (nor do I talk to those I know). Thanks, mom and dad, you’ve made the whole issue about school and work just so great.

    “DON’T: Assume that because an introverted child is not having an outburst that she’s “fine.” A tantrum is simply the final straw for an introvert; it’s what happens where there is no more room for stress inside. When they occur, accept them wholly and be available to listen reflectively.”

    I can sort of agree with this, but not totally. It’s true that it’s much easier to blow up than to try and talk it out when you’re really stressed, but at the same time, no employer (and very few friends) are going to tolerate a tantrum. Maybe it’s acceptable while the kid is four, but once they start going to school, it’s time to teach them to cope with their feelings in an appropriate way – yelling, hitting things, and crying isn’t going to be allowed in the majority of public places, especially since allowing someone to get away with tantrums their entire childhood is only going to teach them that everyone will accept the outburst and give you what you want to stop it, when that’s just not true. You’re just as likely to get arrested for yelling in public as you are if you carry a toy gun.

    • K. Dixon said,

      Introverted kids that don’t find an escape hatch end up with many other solutions that are worse than tantrums (and plenty of workplaces accept men that throw tantrums, they just don’t like it when it is a woman throwning a tantrum). My 13 year old is a cutter. She is a classic Introvert. She releases stress by cutting her arms. We had to teach her how to release steam. I think learning a musical instrument is a very good way to deal with stress for someone that finds verbal communication to be stressful. I put her piano in her bedroom and she plays for hours with headphones on. The cutting has been reduced tremendously. We need to learn to accept people the way that they are and not make them the way we want them to be.

  52. Amanda said,

    This has been interesting to read. My introverted daughter is 14 and now her struggle is wishing to have friends in school. She feels as though everyone knows each other and are in groups and she’s left out. She has two friends she sits with at lunch, for example, but they talk to each other and she can’t hear them and so doesn’t feel included. These friends are extroverts and so she doesn’t really connect well with them, I guess. Same thing in her classes. She doesn’t like feeling left out and she wants a friend, but she isn’t connecting well. She is shy and takes time to process things. When she warms up to someone and has an opportunity to talk about something she loves, then she’s quite verbal and engaging, but getting others to realize this is tricky. I don’t know what advice to give her. I encourage her to invite a friend over, but she’s too shy to do that. I can’t be her voice forever and I don’t want to force her out of her comfort zone, but if she wants friendships, how do I help her? For years she would opt to stay inside and just read or draw while all the kids would be outside playing and forming friendships. I’d encourage her to go out and play but she didn’t want to. I didn’t force her and so now she seeing the effects of not having engaged with others and having missed out on those opportunities to get to know others. That tendency to not engage carries through in school and her dance classes and so now that she’s a teenager and wants those friendships, she’s getting sad and discouraged that she doesn’t have them. I just don’t know what to say to help her.

  53. LIFE: getting to know my highly sensitive child | juicy green mom said,

    […] since I read Parenting from Scratch‘s article “5 Things to Know About Raising Introverted Children“, I knew I had to do more reading on the topic. I’ve known that my daughter was […]

  54. errricdq said,

    Reblogged this on errricdq and commented:
    As an introverted child, I find this extremely warming, as these are very true towards myself, and others that I know. 🙂

  55. amanda said,

    These do’s and dont’s were especially helpful for me. Thank you! I pushed my 2 year old a little far in dance today saying if she doesn’t participate i’m taking her home. She’s a total introvert, and this makes me realize i need to really control me, and she’s doing just fine!!! aaah – parenthood is so hard sometimes.

  56. Elaine said,

    Hi! Thank you for this article. About a year and a half ago, I started staying home, and have been on a roller coaster of stress attempting to relate to my 3 year old (somewhat introverted) daughter.

    Here’s my situation:
    1. Both my husband and I are slightly introverted (we’re both close to the middle now.) When I was young, I was VERY introverted on myers-briggs tests. But despite our introversion, we’re now extremely socially active. We both desire to make the most of life by getting out and doing as many amazing things during our free time as we can and by adhering to a “more the merry” mantra, so that we’re including those friends and family we care about. (During the past 6 years, we’ve lost 7 family members/friends who we cared deeply about; we’re keenly aware that life is short, and that we need to make the most of relationships while we can, even if it’s a little exhausting for ourselves!)

    2. As I’ve read parenting articles about introversion, including this one, there’s quite a push to “accept” introverts as we are, to not force kids to interact, etc. But the thing is, as I look back on my childhood, I wish my mother HAD pushed me more. I enjoyed being alone but also deeply felt that isolation was perceived as less desirable, and I longed for some help on how to be more social. (Both of my parents are/were introverts too).

    3. So, my 3 year old definitely doesn’t need to be having conversations with strangers yet! But, during the course of the day, she does need to be able to respond with words when I ask her questions. Instead, what happens is, she’ll withdraw into herself at different points during the day. I never know if it’s because she/s happy, sad, or requiring alone time. If I ask her to tell me whether something is wrong or if she just wants to be alone, she draws into herself and tries to escape from my question without speaking.

    How do I balance the fact that I DO want my introverted girl to learn how to be more communicative because I feel that it is a civil DUTY to be able to respond to people in social settings, even if it’s uncomfortable.

    I myself look at my own introversion a bit like a weight-loss problem. You know, like..sure the world should accept us no matter what we look like or how social we are, but the world doesn’t, so therefore, we can either choose to be judged for our weight or perceived “shyness,” or we can eat a little less Halloween candy and hit the gym/condition ourselves to get less stressed in normal social gatherings.

    Do any other introverts out there relate to this? Have any of you all attempted to “overcome” introversion to some degree or another and now wish for your kids to follow the same path?

    If there’s any validity in what I’m feeling? Do you all have any thoughts on how to successfully work with a toddler to communicate a bit more without making them feel wrong/judged for their silence.

    Thanks for any thoughts you all might have!

  57. Tracy Nagowski said,

    Thank you. Needed to read this.

  58. D said,

    This article is on point! I have done everything it says here! Introverted people like myself need space an time to reflect an think about everything! We cant figure it out if we are hurried or rushed to make an answer! Extroverts dominate this society so ppl dont understand us! But nothing wrong with us we just process the world an information differently!

  59. April Parmley said,

    This is probably the single most helpful article I haver read on better understanding my son!!! This is him to a T. It took me (an extrovert) a while to understand, but your article has helped tremendously. Does anyone have advice like this on raising and introvert with an extroverted sibling? (I have one of each!!!)
    Than you

  60. Boriana said,

    Really useful article. Thank you so much!

  61. Loui said,

    Thank you, I read this at the right time my almost five year old daughter is currently wanting to look at books alone in her room, stay inside while I take the other kids outside etc. I’ve been feeling frustrated and sad that she doesn’t want to engage with us. I’d sort of forgotten she was introverted (like me) obviously so much going on for her she needs that alone time to recharge.

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