On a Sunday afternoon, your home is bustling with activity. You have invited your relatives, friends plus their children for a party. Children are running up and down, engaging in different games. However, you feel something is not right. Your six-year-old son, Mark, is nowhere to be seen. Minutes later, you find him in his room playing a video game, all by himself. Mark is most probably an introvert.
Introverts usually prefer to be alone, engaging in solitary activities such as reading, writing or watching television. “When Brenda was growing up, I noticed she did not have many friends like her peers. It was usually one or two friends and this worried me,” says Beatrice, a mother of five who has managed to raise an introvert daughter.
Parents of introverts need not to feel that their children are not normal.
A study by Stalk Institute for Biological Sciences indicates introverts do not seek social interaction simply because it does not stimulate them. Too much social interaction can cause emotional and physical exhaustion for them. Even babies display signs of introversion, for example, they usually stay away from noise, people and lights. When they see someone new, they like to stare intensely at that person without making any effort to reach for them.
Once a parent has identified that his or her child is an introvert, they need to handle them correctly. “If introvert children are not understood and handled carefully, they could develop personality disorders,” says Cecilia Driciru, a psychiatrist, who has worked with children and adolescents for 13 years.
“They could develop lack of empathy, that is, not having feelings for others. They could even cause pain to others especially because they are very territorial. If mishandled, these children could easily turn to drugs and alcohol in order to counteract the feeling of being understood,” she adds.
How to go about them
Beatrice says, “I learnt to accept my daughter for who she was and was proud of her. I came to realise that she was actually happy being alone and having few friends.” Introverts, unlike shy people, are very fine or comfortable with their character. A parent should therefore not force them to spend more time with other children. This will only drain their energy, cause them stress and lead to problems with self-esteem.
Driciru urges parents to show love to such children. “Show them love from the their start. Do not beat them because when you do so, you will only worsen the situation. You should instead learn to talk to them nicely so that they can easily open up to you.” She also aises parents to seek help from specialists and counsellors.
If you receive complaints from school that your child does not like taking part in group work, explain to the teacher and help them understand why he or she does not enjoy that activity and guide them on how best to handle the situation. Because of being territorial, respect your child’s desire for time and space to play alone. If you can afford, provide for them a private bedroom as soon as possible.
To the best of your ability, avoid busy and noisy places such as parties. If you really have to go for a function, arrive early. This will make your child feel as if others are joining him in his space instead of him joining them in their territory. Even though introverts are very intense in their reactions to things, they do not show it. They maintain neutral facial expressions. So if you give your child a gift and he does not respond in the way you expect (jumping up and down or smiling from ear to ear), do not imagine that he does not like it. Deep down, he or she is very excited.
When properly brought up, introverts are very intelligent people because they have a rich imagination and prefer reflection to activity. They are also very good listeners, give thoughtful aice and tend to be very loyal friends.
Difference between a shy person and an introvert
An introvert enjoys time alone and gets drained emotionally after spending a lot of time with others.
A shy person does not want to be alone but is afraid to interact with others but introverts always have a small group of close friends.
Shy people find it difficult to form close friendships but an introvert can be fine with someone approaching them and beginning a conversation.
A shy person will be terrified at having a conversation with a stranger.
An introvert will always be an introvert but a shy person can get rid of the shyness through therapy, change of environment or a dramatic experience.
FACT: Not all introverts are shy. Some of them have excellent social skills. But after engaging in a social activity, an introvert will feel emotionally drained and will need time alone to “recharge” his emotional batteries.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor