No parent wants their child to feel alone and overlooked. Yet, introverted children can find it difficult to make friends, due to their quieter personality. Here are some ways you can help your introverted child build relationships.
First, Understand Them
Introverted children are often dismissed as just being shy. They are often more careful, more introspective, and less assertive. They value their alone time, since this is how they recharge. But remember, introversion is just a different set of strengths, not a personality flaw. So don’t label your child or try to force change. Appreciate them for who they are.
Be aware, however, there is a difference between social anxiety and an introvert personality. Social anxiety can cause damage to your child’s self-esteem and ability to interact with people. (You can always take your child to a therapist if you worry they are struggling with social anxiety.)
Learn What NOT To Do
If your kid doesn’t know how to use their strengths to make friends, here’s where you can help! But be careful not to make your child uncomfortable. Socializing may be hard for them, since they probably prefer small groups or one-on-one interactions. Don’t push your child into a crowd and hope they open up. This will only make them withdraw more. Do not point out your child or purposefully embarrass them in front of others either. This can hurt them and their relationship with you.
Nurture Their Personality
Introverts enjoy having friends. They just don’t enjoy the initial small talk. To keep your child from feeling overwhelmed, introduce social interactions gradually. For example, if they are attending a birthday party, show up early and help them get comfortable before people start arriving. You can also role play to help your child learn communication skills. Pretend to be another child and carry on a conversation with them. Or, narrate through a stuffed animal if it lessens their discomfort.
Remember, your child’s introverted personality isn’t a problem to be fixed. Be there through the process with them, and help them learn how to use their strengths to their advantage!