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PEP Blog

02|04

Advice for Parenting Introverted Children

By Kathy Matay

If you’re the parent of an introverted child, you might find this article enlightening and potentially useful. If you’re the extroverted parent of an introverted child, you – or potentially future-you – could write this article.

Me, I’m an introvert. Nothing better than curling up by the fire with a good book and a hot cup of tea. My husband, he’s an extrovert with a capital “E.” His car radio: always on. Talks on the phone for a living and then, after work, calls all his friends and family. One volume: High. I’ve learned that there is no such thing as a “pure” extrovert, but my husband is the closest thing to it. Imagine our surprise (especially his!) when our second son turned out to be a cautious, look-before-you-leap, slow-to-warm-up kind of child. The kind who literally clung to a tree rather than joining the other kids on the soccer field at the first practice. Spoiler alert: Our introverted child has grown up into a happy, spirited, adventurous, multi-friended college student, and we’ve gained a lot of hard-won wisdom along the way.

Some of the things I wish I’d known earlier

The characteristics of introversion or extroversion are inborn, they are part of a person’s temperament. There’s no such thing as a pure introvert or a pure extrovert, but if you fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, you’re an “ambivert.” Being introverted is not the same thing as being shy. Shyness is a fear of negative evaluation and is a milder form of social anxiety. Introversion refers to a tendency to become overstimulated and to have a relatively high requirement for solitude or quiet time to recharge. Think of it this way: shyness and gregariousness are opposites; introversion and extroversion are opposites. These concepts are separate and distinct.

Read the rest on Washington Parent Magazine’s website.

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