How to be a good parent to an introverted kid

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davebo
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How to be a good parent to an introverted kid

Post by davebo » Mon Apr 17, 2017 10:25 pm

My 2nd grade boy is a great kid...very smart, disciplined, works hard in school, and he's a great big brother to his younger siblings. He's always been on the quiet side and more of an introvert. I have to admit that I worry about him socially a bit as he doesn't really express any desire to have other kids over for playdates. Our neighborhood doesn't have many kids so we will offer to invite a classmate over, but he always seems to rather just be at home with us. We always check in with his teachers to see how he does socially and they've never expressed any concerns. They say he gets along great with other kids in class and his current teacher went out of her way to say that she doesn't see anything at all that would cause concern.

At a high level, I don't really have any concerns with him, it's usually just when I see him in a large group of his peers that I start to worry. He's playing baseball and is on the same team with a bunch of kids from his school. He's very hyper-focused on what he's doing at any given time, so while the other kids are talking and goofing around, he's sitting on the bench intently watching the game. Sometimes he'll sit on his own on the bench watching the game while the other kids run around. On some level I can appreciate this because, unlike other kids, he knows what inning it is, how many outs, what kind of hits the other kids got, and where they left off in the batting order. But on the other hand, it would make me happy to see him running around and talking to his friends a bit more.

This is something we try to work on with him a bit....basically just being more outwardly friendly with kids his own age. I personally think he'd rather just stand by me and the other parents, watch the game, and talk about what is going on. Overall, he seems to enjoy the company of adults more than he does kids his own age. When we are on vacation, he doesn't mind just sitting around the table and listening to aunts/uncles/grandparents talk...he likes to play board games with us and all that.

He's got a couple friends he's close with at school and doesn't seem to have a strong desire to connect with kids any more than what he does now. My wife and I were both pretty much the same way growing up, but we both had a lot of neighborhood friends to play with and had no issues with friendships throughout school/HS.

Every now and again I have to tell myself that it's not a problem that he's more on the introverted side, especially if he's content. I just kinda hate that I have to constantly reassure myself of this.

Anyone else have kids like this? Any advice? Should I continue to push him to go outside his comfort zone, invite kids over, chat with other kids. Or just leave it be and let him be himself without calling attention to something to where he thinks he has a problem. I'm assuming as kids get older, they just find the group of kids they are comfortable with and also mature a bit socially. I guess part of me is just worried that he'll have a hard time making friends as he gets older.

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JamesSFO
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Re: How to be a good parent to an introverted kid

Post by JamesSFO » Mon Apr 17, 2017 10:37 pm

As a current introvert and one as a kid, my $0.02 is recognize that part of this is how he gets his energy back and so it's not something "fixable". So focus on helping him be comfortable with who he is.

Pdxnative
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Re: How to be a good parent to an introverted kid

Post by Pdxnative » Mon Apr 17, 2017 10:41 pm

I would not push him to be an extrovert if he's happy being an introvert. He'll make friends as he gets older and finds his tribe. But it might just be that he isn't interested in the same things that interest your neighborhood kids. For bright kids, other kids can seem pretty immature. You might find that his group is the math Olympiad or history bee group. Those kids are scattered around and, unless your school is good at identifying and grouping these kids, it can feel lonely. So if this is still an issue in a few years you might explore clubs or camps where he can be around kids who share his interests. You've probably read the book Quiet? I think there's a version for kids also. Might be worth a look. The good news is that the friendships he does form will likely be solid and deep.

stlutz
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Re: How to be a good parent to an introverted kid

Post by stlutz » Mon Apr 17, 2017 10:42 pm

Keep in mind that it's only in America that we think something must be wrong with a kid if he/she is more of an introvert.

It sounds like he has friends and gets along just find with others. And I don't see how he will have problems making friends when he is older if he already gets along well with people who are older!

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Re: How to be a good parent to an introverted kid

Post by Kywildcat » Mon Apr 17, 2017 10:59 pm

I'm 30 now, but you could have been describing myself at that age and I don't think there is anything to worry about. While I did well in school, it could be stressful being around so many people for that long. So even though I had friends at school, I never felt the need to hang out on the weekends with them (outside of organized activites). I think you'll find that has your son gets older, he may have a small number of friends, but they will be strong friendships.

One thing that also struck a cord with me is that a kid who is a bit more mature than his peers feels a bit out of place and may struggle to relate to them at times. Due to my birthday, I was always one of the older ones in my grade through high school and it always felt that I was 1-2 years ahead of peers maturity wise. The good news is this becomes less and less the older you get and is almost completely gone in college and definetly afterwards. I can't comment on actual parenting advice.

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Re: How to be a good parent to an introverted kid

Post by an_asker » Mon Apr 17, 2017 11:00 pm

I agree with the other three answers above. Pushing him into making more friends will make him unhappy.

I'm one of the introverts as well. I've got more friends online than in real life. Nothing wrong in that (at least, so I say!!). Well maybe it is a demerit when it comes to peer reviews (if boss depends on those), but I am ok with that. I don't like the 'you scratch my back, I scratch yours' culture anyway.

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Re: How to be a good parent to an introverted kid

Post by Dottie57 » Mon Apr 17, 2017 11:02 pm

JamesSFO wrote:As a current introvert and one as a kid, my $0.02 is recognize that part of this is how he gets his energy back and so it's not something "fixable". So focus on helping him be comfortable with who he is.
I need quiet and few people around to re-charge too. Extroverts wear me out.

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Doom&Gloom
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Re: How to be a good parent to an introverted kid

Post by Doom&Gloom » Mon Apr 17, 2017 11:06 pm

Don't create problems where none exist.

"Every now and again I have to tell myself that it's not a problem that he's more on the introverted side, especially if he's content. I just kinda hate that I have to constantly reassure myself of this."

And work on the ones that do.

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Re: How to be a good parent to an introverted kid

Post by anoop » Mon Apr 17, 2017 11:13 pm

Does he talk about why he would rather be by himself or with adults?

Without worrying about the introvert/extrovert issue, I think it's more important for a kid to be able to identify and process feelings and emotions that come up in various situations. He might prefer the company of adults because they tend to be very respectful of boundaries (even more so with children), whereas there's a different dynamic when you have a bunch of kids together--they may or may not be as respectful with boundaries, making him feel uncomfortable because he doesn't know how to respond.
Last edited by anoop on Mon Apr 17, 2017 11:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

cantos
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Re: How to be a good parent to an introverted kid

Post by cantos » Mon Apr 17, 2017 11:24 pm

davebo wrote: Anyone else have kids like this? Any advice? Should I continue to push him to go outside his comfort zone, invite kids over, chat with other kids. Or just leave it be and let him be himself without calling attention to something to where he thinks he has a problem. I'm assuming as kids get older, they just find the group of kids they are comfortable with and also mature a bit socially. I guess part of me is just worried that he'll have a hard time making friends as he gets older.
Disagree with the everything-is-fine posts above.

I take the same view with this as I do with finances. In finances - don't enable your kid, don't help your kid pay for his house, don't help your kid out of a financial jam. Teach the kid to save, to delay gratification, to attain the skills and mindset to succeed.

So I say continue to push him out of his comfort zone. Give him the tools to succeed in myriad ways. This usually means bulking up on weak points.

As an introvert myself, I turned myself into an extrovert in my work life - public speaking, stakeholder relations, building relationships, etc. And the result is a far better career than I otherwise would have had. And no, I haven't suffered any pyschological/emotional issues as a consequence. I still come home and start up a fire in my fire pit and chill out w a beer by myself or w/ wife. I should note as an existentialist that I believe, at our core, we can choose who we want to be.

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Re: How to be a good parent to an introverted kid

Post by Teague » Mon Apr 17, 2017 11:43 pm

You may find that at some point he will push himself out of his "comfort zone" if he feels he needs to do that to get what he wants. But I don't think most folks, these days, see introversion as something that should be "fixed." For one thing, it can't be fixed, mostly because nothing is wrong.

Introverts can perform as "extroverted-ly" as any natural extrovert, when the situation calls for it and when it's worth it for them to do so. At some point they will require alone time to recharge, because this behavior is exhausting for them. Just ask former President Obama, or a few other past US presidents.

https://www.inc.com/damon-brown/the-lea ... overt.html

-Teague (an introvert who was class president, school paper editor, salesperson, and a few other extroverted-type things).
Semper Augustus

Cunobelinus
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Re: How to be a good parent to an introverted kid

Post by Cunobelinus » Tue Apr 18, 2017 12:13 am

cantos wrote:
davebo wrote: Anyone else have kids like this? Any advice? Should I continue to push him to go outside his comfort zone, invite kids over, chat with other kids. Or just leave it be and let him be himself without calling attention to something to where he thinks he has a problem. I'm assuming as kids get older, they just find the group of kids they are comfortable with and also mature a bit socially. I guess part of me is just worried that he'll have a hard time making friends as he gets older.
Disagree with the everything-is-fine posts above.

I take the same view with this as I do with finances. In finances - don't enable your kid, don't help your kid pay for his house, don't help your kid out of a financial jam. Teach the kid to save, to delay gratification, to attain the skills and mindset to succeed.

So I say continue to push him out of his comfort zone. Give him the tools to succeed in myriad ways. This usually means bulking up on weak points.

As an introvert myself, I turned myself into an extrovert in my work life - public speaking, stakeholder relations, building relationships, etc. And the result is a far better career than I otherwise would have had. And no, I haven't suffered any pyschological/emotional issues as a consequence. I still come home and start up a fire in my fire pit and chill out w a beer by myself or w/ wife. I should note as an existentialist that I believe, at our core, we can choose who we want to be.
I agree with this sentiment. I was very much the same as how you've described your kid growing up and I appear to have turned out fine. I do however wish that I was more strongly encouraged to do more social things growing up -- I played soccer and was on various teams, but I never cared to go out of my way to have more than one or two friends at a time. It took a bit of work to do in my early adult years to be more sociable, but it was something I wanted to do, so I made it happen. I think learning things is often easier as a younger kid than as a young adult.

I definitely would have/did hate having big shocks in my life when I was younger though, so it's certainly a fine line. I took it out on my parents pretty hard when we moved to somewhere very different when I was in high school, but it ultimately resulted in me growing up a lot more.

tony5412
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Re: How to be a good parent to an introverted kid

Post by tony5412 » Tue Apr 18, 2017 12:45 am

Agreed with the above posts. Let him be himself, not everyone is the same.

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Re: How to be a good parent to an introverted kid

Post by Bfwolf » Tue Apr 18, 2017 12:53 am

Cunobelinus wrote:
cantos wrote:
davebo wrote: Anyone else have kids like this? Any advice? Should I continue to push him to go outside his comfort zone, invite kids over, chat with other kids. Or just leave it be and let him be himself without calling attention to something to where he thinks he has a problem. I'm assuming as kids get older, they just find the group of kids they are comfortable with and also mature a bit socially. I guess part of me is just worried that he'll have a hard time making friends as he gets older.
Disagree with the everything-is-fine posts above.

I take the same view with this as I do with finances. In finances - don't enable your kid, don't help your kid pay for his house, don't help your kid out of a financial jam. Teach the kid to save, to delay gratification, to attain the skills and mindset to succeed.

So I say continue to push him out of his comfort zone. Give him the tools to succeed in myriad ways. This usually means bulking up on weak points.

As an introvert myself, I turned myself into an extrovert in my work life - public speaking, stakeholder relations, building relationships, etc. And the result is a far better career than I otherwise would have had. And no, I haven't suffered any pyschological/emotional issues as a consequence. I still come home and start up a fire in my fire pit and chill out w a beer by myself or w/ wife. I should note as an existentialist that I believe, at our core, we can choose who we want to be.
I agree with this sentiment. I was very much the same as how you've described your kid growing up and I appear to have turned out fine. I do however wish that I was more strongly encouraged to do more social things growing up -- I played soccer and was on various teams, but I never cared to go out of my way to have more than one or two friends at a time. It took a bit of work to do in my early adult years to be more sociable, but it was something I wanted to do, so I made it happen. I think learning things is often easier as a younger kid than as a young adult.

I definitely would have/did hate having big shocks in my life when I was younger though, so it's certainly a fine line. I took it out on my parents pretty hard when we moved to somewhere very different when I was in high school, but it ultimately resulted in me growing up a lot more.
Yeah, I think it's important to recognize that it's an extroverted world out there. The majority of the population is extroverted. I'm a modest introvert myself, so I had to push myself to be more extroverted in work and in social situations. This led to more success in both, and if I could've been even more extroverted, I think it would have led to even more success. When I tell people I'm an introvert, they're often surprised, and I explain that I basically faked being extroverted until it eventually became natural and authentic. I still get easily worn out by big groups of people though.

So I don't think you need to really worry about a second grader who by all accounts is happy and well adjusted. But I do think gentle nudging outside his comfort zone is a very reasonable parenting strategy.

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Re: How to be a good parent to an introverted kid

Post by hightower » Tue Apr 18, 2017 1:14 am

Sorry for the long post, but this is a subject that's important to me, so I couldn't resist:)

I'm an introvert myself and suggest reading up on the subject. I highly recommend the book "Quiet" by Susan Cain. Remember that introvertism is just as "normal" as extrovertism (half the population is introverted). We live in a society where extroverts are highly (and strangely) preferred and as a result, many people falsely believe that extroverts are the norm and introverts are somehow not normal. This book should help clarify and alleviate some of your concerns. It really is an excellent and eye opening read. She did a great TED talk about this subject too if you want to try to look it up on youtube. Just search for Susan Cain TED talk and you'll probably find it.

I'm not a parent myself, so I can't tell you how to be a good parent. But, I can tell you from my experience growing up introverted and not learning about what that meant until I was an adult, that the most important thing you can do for your child is be supportive of whatever it is that sparks their interests. If something excites him or seems to grab his attention, help him pursue it. Don't worry about how many friends he has or if he prefers to do things alone for a certain amount of time each day. Those things aren't as important to an introvert. If he seems happy, he probably is. Introverts usually have only a couple of friends that they bond with, but they usually form strong and significant, lasting friendships with those people. It may take him some time to find someone like that though and that's ok. Helping him pursue whatever it is that he enjoys can help him find the right people.

A lot of amazing people throughout history have been very strong introverts. Its not a personality flaw, its a major strength:)

"Sometimes he'll sit on his own on the bench watching the game while the other kids run around. On some level I can appreciate this because, unlike other kids, he knows what inning it is, how many outs, what kind of hits the other kids got, and where they left off in the batting order." This tells me your son is a strong thinker and has special skills that are going to help him be very successful in life if you allow them to properly develop. The other kids are running around just goofing off and not paying attention to important details, meanwhile your son is analyzing the situation and thinking about what's going on. That's wonderful!! He'll make a great CEO someday. Or maybe an engineer studying the worlds problems and how to solve them. He could end up doing any number of amazing things in life and he doesn't need to be pushed into being an extrovert to accomplish them. He'll struggle with some things (just like everyone else), but with time he can improve on things that are necessary to improve on. One analogy from the Quiet book that I really like is that our personalities are like rubber bands. They can be stretched out from time to time, but they need to return to their resting state or they'll lose their elasticity. For an introvert that means that they can be social and outgoing when they need to be, but they need their quiet time to reset and return to normal. How much time they need is up to them. As long as he seems happy and well adjusted doing whatever it is that he's doing, then you should be happy too.

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Re: How to be a good parent to an introverted kid

Post by sunny_socal » Tue Apr 18, 2017 2:24 am

I was an introvert as a kid and I still am. Hanging out with people pulls the life out of me, a good day at work is when I don't need to talk to anyone! :beer

My wife is the opposite, she withers when she's alone for a day. Opposites attract, I guess :wink:

Don't worry about your son, he'll be fine.

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celia
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Re: How to be a good parent to an introverted kid

Post by celia » Tue Apr 18, 2017 2:28 am

Was this DaveBo the kid:
davebo wrote:He's always been on the quiet side and more of an introvert.
Sometimes he'll sit on his own on the bench watching the game while the other kids run around...
He's got a couple friends he's close with at school and doesn't seem to have a strong desire to connect with kids any more than what he does now.
... he's content.
And is this DaveBo the adult:
But on the other hand, it would make me happy to see him running around and talking to his friends a bit more.
My wife and I were both pretty much the same way growing up...
I just kinda hate that I have to constantly reassure myself of this.
It sounds like you and your son like to focus on the details that others don't notice.

Maybe he has a special talent and hasn't yet connected with a similar person like him as someone else suggested.
Here's a personality test you can take for fun, then take it as you were your son. How similar are you?
https://www.16personalities.com

There's nothing "wrong" with being in any one of the resulting groups, but one group might have 10 to 15% of the population while another has less than 1%.

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Re: How to be a good parent to an introverted kid

Post by TX_Man » Tue Apr 18, 2017 5:18 am

I was the introverted older brother; you're post could have been about me. My parents tried to force me to be extroverted and it was miserable and I deeply resented it. It is exhausting and very stressful to be forced into social situations if one is introverted. FYI I'm not a parent.

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just frank
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Re: How to be a good parent to an introverted kid

Post by just frank » Tue Apr 18, 2017 5:20 am

I was the same way, and I turned out great! :beer

My parents pushed me into social things...hated it.

The major issue is whether he is lonely or happy as he is. Whether he wants to be more social, but can't, or likes things how he is. Note this can change with age...he might be happy now, but need a little push later if HE feels he is missing something. Rather than you arranging playdates, this might, in a few years, simply be you encouraging him to do so more when he is unsure.

Also, read about Aspergers.

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Re: How to be a good parent to an introverted kid

Post by investingdad » Tue Apr 18, 2017 7:00 am

Why is it that extroverts think introverts need to be fixed or challenged, but introverts don't think the same of extroverts?

I was the same as your son. I gave up on team sports early and found my calling in tennis, later...golf. Other than my wife, I don't really have friends other than work acquaintances and neighbours I socialize with. I'm quite happy.

My daughter and son I can't figure out, they have traits of both introverts and extroverts.

Unless your son has social issues, and it sounds like he doesn't per his teachers, please don't try to fix his introversion...he's not broken. He'll find your efforts draining and the whole exercise fruitless. In time, "school extroversion" or "work extroversion" will emerge.

I'm willing to bet he has high levels of concentration, is focused and tenacious, and can stay on task...those are inborn skills that can serve him well later.

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Re: How to be a good parent to an introverted kid

Post by bottlecap » Tue Apr 18, 2017 7:31 am

"Quiet" is fine. Introverted "might" not be. Being able to related to people and interact with people is important for not only careers, but for social circles and for personal growth.

People are everywhere. If your son is introverted and uncomfortable around others, I understand your motive. If there's something you could to ease any discomfort around others, why wouldn't you?

However, it sounds to me like there's not much to worry about right now. Perhaps he's more mature than his peers. Perhaps he's just quiet and doesn't need more than a few friends. Nothing wrong with this and his peers will catch up.

Nonetheless, you say you were similar as a child and so was your wife. What do you think you might have benefitted from that wouldn't have made you miserable? Would he be interested in doing something like that?

Being somewhat of an introverted person myself - not quiet, mind you - and the talk above about getting out of your comfort zone really resonates with me. It's so easy to stay in the comfort zone, but you don't benefit much from that; you don't grow.

I think if you can find something that he likes to do, but that might require more interaction with people than a team sport (and thus gets him a bit out of his comfort zone every once and a while), then he'd have fun but still have an opportunity to learn some of the people skills of a more well-rounded person. I do think it's too early to worry.

Good luck,

JT

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Re: How to be a good parent to an introverted kid

Post by ponyboy » Tue Apr 18, 2017 8:10 am

First of all...how bout we stop putting labels on every single person/child. Introvert, extrovert, ADD, ADHD, etc etc. Just stop. We're all different. WE all like different things. Its hilarious how 8 year old kids are expected to go to school for 8 hours a day and the second they lose focus or get bored they're labeled ADD. Uhh news flash...school is boring...kids want to play and have fun.

Maybe see if your kid likes sports. Its pretty much the easiest way to get them around other people. Stop labeling them though...its not healthy.

Oh and that whole briggs myers test workplaces love to shove down employees throats...yea they can take that and shove it. What a waste of time and resources.

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Re: How to be a good parent to an introverted kid

Post by alex_686 » Tue Apr 18, 2017 8:32 am

hightower wrote:I highly recommend the book "Quiet" by Susan Cain.
I will second that recommendation. One of the takeaways I took from that book was that people who are naturally introverts can be extroverts in the right situation for a limited time. For example, after many hours of internal introverted work on a project, a few hours being extroverted to present the project.

As a parent I know you need to push your child into uncomfortable spaces. However you need to realize that his natural state probably is a introvert. As a introvert, I really enjoyed speech and debate in high school. Lots of research and preparation, which I loved. Then a little bit of public speaking. I was only fair to middling in competition but I did pick up habits and skills I use today.

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Re: How to be a good parent to an introverted kid

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Tue Apr 18, 2017 8:39 am

How to be a good parent - let him be a kid. Everyone is unique in their own way, it's when you try to "change" the uniqueness that ugly things happen.
As others have said, he's a good student, gets along well with others, what is the problem? He's finding himself, let him do it. Let's view it this way - you are the child, would you have liked your parents to interfere with your childhood outside of normal parenting duties?
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Re: How to be a good parent to an introverted kid

Post by Yooper » Tue Apr 18, 2017 8:42 am

Just be a Dad. Encourage him to do more, but don't push. You're supposed to be his rock, a person he feels comfortable with and who accepts him the way he is. The fact that you're concerned shows you love him, make sure he knows you do. Continue to gently encourage him to venture outside his safe zone whenever appropriate. If he wants to try he will, if he doesn't and you push him he'll resent you for "forcing" him - and it may backfire by making him feel inadequate or not measuring up to your expectations. At least that's what I hope I'd do if/when the time comes with my boys (smile).

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Re: How to be a good parent to an introverted kid

Post by FrugalInvestor » Tue Apr 18, 2017 8:53 am

Another introvert here.

I would maintain that there's nothing wrong with valuing quality of friendships over quantity of friendships. I've also found upon reflection that I've been less susceptible to (or interested in) going along with the crowd. This prevented me from doing many stupid things when I was a kid and as an adult (i.e. general mischief, drugs, investing fads, etc.). Yes, being an introvert can be awkward at times but I've grown to be proud of it and learned that it can be used to my advantage.

It does help to be married to an extrovert though.
IGNORE the noise! | Our life is frittered away by detail... simplify, simplify. - Henry David Thoreau

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Re: How to be a good parent to an introverted kid

Post by Frugal Al » Tue Apr 18, 2017 9:00 am

just frank wrote:I was the same way, and I turned out great
Too funny, this coming from Frank. Anyway, I too am an introvert. I do think mild nudging is in order. It should be acknowledged that it's a totally normal behavior, but it should not be used as an excuse to totally disengage from certain activities. Thank God we were not all born with the same traits.

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Re: How to be a good parent to an introverted kid

Post by Sandtrap » Tue Apr 18, 2017 9:11 am

read "Quiet" by Susan Cain to grasp an introverted world. https://www.amazon.com/Quiet-Power-Intr ... susan+cain
Watch the movie, "Magnus", teenage chess champion.
Introversion as a disadvantage in an extroverted world is an old artificial construct that refuses to recognize personality dynamics that may be far more complex and misunderstood.
Thanks for asking the question and recognizing your child. Already a wonderful parent, now with a gifted child.

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Re: How to be a good parent to an introverted kid

Post by alex_686 » Tue Apr 18, 2017 9:37 am

ponyboy wrote:First of all...how bout we stop putting labels on every single person/child. Introvert, extrovert, ADD, ADHD, etc etc. Just stop. We're all different. WE all like different things. Its hilarious how 8 year old kids are expected to go to school for 8 hours a day and the second they lose focus or get bored they're labeled ADD. Uhh news flash...school is boring...kids want to play and have fun.
I am not sure if I agree with you or not. When I was in elementary school I was labeled as slow because I kept misspelling common words. Took a placement test and scored a very high I.Q. So I must be doing poorly because I was bored. I was then shifted to a advance class, focused on learning in small groups that focused on teamwork. That did not work out so well. Elementary school was hell.

In middle school more testing - this time in depth. Then it was figured out that I was dyslexic and a introvert. The erratic performance in elementary school was explained. Now we could focus on a learning style that worked for me. Not "labeling" is important, but it is also important nurture the strengths of your child and develop compensatory skills for the weaknesses.

Which is why I think the OP should modestly push his child. Being a extrovert, a people person, may never be his strength, which is fine. He should not be pushed heavily in this direction. But he should develop some skills to shore up this weakness.

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Re: How to be a good parent to an introverted kid

Post by prudent » Tue Apr 18, 2017 9:40 am

This thread has run its course and is locked (relationship issue). See: Acceptable Topics and Subforum Guidelines
This is an investing and personal finance forum. We also maintain a subforum that allow our members to discuss consumer goods and services and recreational activities. Anything else is considered "Off Topic" and is not acceptable on this forum.

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