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Concerned because your quiet, soft-spoken child enjoys being alone more often than being with others, when it seems as if all your friends’ kids are busy social butterflies? Don’t be. Being introverted — often described as a person’s comfort with various levels of stimulation and the need to detach in order to recharge one’s batteries — is a good thing.
It means you have an intent listener, a habitual daydreamer and the type of youngster who bonds intimately with a select few. Introverts are often perceived as shy or socially awkward, when, in reality, they are full of extraordinary talent and abilities. Among some of the most famous introverts: Microsoft founder Bill Gates, “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling and filmmaker Steven Spielberg.
As with any child, nurturing and understanding their unique needs and personality is key. So, instead of worrying about your “reserved” and “introspective” kid — and pushing them toward more social activities — relish in the surprising benefits of their disposition and allow them to do what they do best.
Most of all, don’t let society’s pressures to madly schedule your child’s every moment or coordinate daily play dates dictate your lives. Instead, reframe your child’s powers of observation, judiciousness and ability to create, reflect and ponder into a celebration of their temperament. Because introverts are often blessed with:
- A rich inner life. Introverted children rely on their own internal resources, making them perfectly happy in their own head. In fact, introverts feel more alive and at an equilibrium in quiet, minimally stimulating environments.
- A love of learning. According to studies at The Gifted Development Center, 75 percent of children with high IQs are introverts and as such, need lots of information to feed their brains and satisfy their curiosity. Just be aware: When introverted kids aren’t taking in material that stimulates their minds, they can exhibit a lack of interest, especially in the classroom, where they can become bored or fidgety.
- The ability to look before they leap. Introverts are planners who like to think things through before making decisions, weighing the positives and negatives in a thoughtful manner. Because they don’t want to be the center of attention, they tend to act for the good of the team, rather than solely for their self-worth, attributes which help later in life as they progress in their careers.
- A reputation for being trustworthy friends. The adage quality over quantity best describes an introvert and their relationships. They are selective with whom they choose to spend time, forming solid relationships with a select group of people. This makes folks trust them more and inspires others to follow their lead.
- A tendency to be self-driven. While capable of working with others, introverts typically do best when left to their own devices. It’s one reason they often rise quickly in their careers as they don’t need constant hand-holding.
- An appreciation of the little things. Introverts can easily differentiate between what’s worth their time and what’s worth letting go. This ability to hone in on the positive means they know when to cultivate something that has promise, usually resulting in a good outcome.
- Thinking outside the box. The list of successful introverts – Elon Musk is another – should be proof enough that your introverted child has a highly imaginative mind with a unique worldview. Another perk: They’re not as concerned about peer pressure and following what others are doing. It’s why encouraging your child’s creativity without criticism is key to stimulating their original thinking.
- A well-developed code of ethics. Being in tune with their emotions translates to having a unique sensitivity and empathy for others. Some even call introverted children wise behind their years, as they tend to develop a sense of morality and ethics early in life.
- An ability to reign in their emotions. Because introverts are not as outwardly expressive about their feelings as extroverts, they tend to sort out everything privately before addressing an issue publicly. This means they are calmer during conflict and less likely to explode or get outwardly upset at others.
- Authenticity. Since introverts are meticulous with the people they choose to communicate with, they are generally honest and down-to-earth. They’re also good listeners, a trait we all could probably be better at.
K. Lori Hanson, Ph.D., licensed psychologist and chief of research, evaluation and strategic planning at The Children’s Trust, has more than 20 years’ experience assessing critical data and community research regarding the needs of children and families. For more information, visit thechildrenstrust.org.