Skip to main content

Understanding the Quiet, Introverted Child: A Guide for Parents

  • Author:
  • Updated date:

Lisha was an introvert, is an introvert, and will always be an introvert.

An introverted child may enjoy playing quietly by herself—and that's perfectly normal!

An introverted child may enjoy playing quietly by herself—and that's perfectly normal!

There is often a quiet child at parties and family gatherings that people take pity on because they think that they are bored. I was one such child, and the truth was—I was never actually bored.

Just because a child sits quietly by themselves does not necessarily mean that they are bored or unhappy. In fact, the only things that make these introverted children uncomfortable are the disapproving glances from random people and those who proceed to come over to make small talk or to introduce them to an even more random person.

For Introverts, Happiness Comes From Within

As a child, reading books was my favorite thing in the world. I could keep reading and reading for hours on end. If I had a good book and perhaps some cake or cookies to snack on, I truly believed that I was the happiest kid in the world.

When at home, even though my family was always around me, I never really felt the need to talk to them unnecessarily. I was just content that they were there. Although this sometimes led to misunderstandings and arguments, I still believed that they had to accept me for who I was. I could not force myself to be someone I was not.

I was always perfectly happy to just sit by myself and observe the people and things around me. Having one or two best friends was all I needed to be happy. It took a while to get familiar and comfortable with them, but once I was, they were all I needed. I never really felt the need to broaden my social circle.

"Why Are You So Quiet?"

I could never understand why most people saw being quiet as something negative. Maybe it came off as rude or arrogant to some, though I think it would be pretty obvious that this wasn't the case if only they took a minute to observe.

To all the people asking kids and teens, "Why are you so quiet?" or "Why don't you talk and interact more?", you may think that these are harmless questions. However, imagine being asked these questions repeatedly at every single function, party, or school event by endless numbers of people. It's exasperating. Especially when you know that the answer will never change—that's just who you are.

These Questions Are Embarrassing

I can't even count the number of times that I have felt embarrassed or uncomfortable when someone has asked me things along these lines—like it was something to be ashamed of. I would usually just shrug it off with a fake smile, but on the inside, it felt like I was doing something wrong or that I was not normal. It made me uneasy and self-conscious. It is not healthy for children to think this way about themselves, and it brings down whatever little self-confidence they had in the first place.

I don't think that any adult would be too pleased if they were questioned as to why they are too loud or why they talk too much. Although I guess not many people hear this because, even if this were 100% true, the extroverts would think that it is normal and the introverts would just politely walk away.

Many introverted children love reading.

Many introverted children love reading.

Accept and Encourage

To put it simply—be accepting. Stop for a moment to think before commenting. Most of the time, it's the things that are said without thinking that end up causing problems and hurting people. Parents usually understand their own kids' needs, but other extroverts rarely do. Don't judge a child and put negative thoughts into his or her mind.

Encourage these children to grow by taking small steps that they are comfortable with, and give them the time that they require to adjust to new things. Introversion is not unusual or wrong; it is just the nature of the person—which highly depends on the surroundings that they are in. They can probably enjoy conversations with their best friend for hours and hours together.

Find ways to support and communicate better with introverted children—it will surely improve your relationship with them.

Be Proud of Who Your Child Is

As an adult, I guess I am still pretty much the same, but I do understand that being outgoing is sometimes a necessity, and I try to adapt to the situation. Though, frankly speaking, introversion has no switch that can be turned on or off whenever required. There is always a tendency to shy away from bigger groups, events, parties, etc.

However, as long as introverts have a few people (or even one person) around them whom they are comfortable with and who understand them—well, nothing else matters!

© 2020 Lisha C


Lisha C (author) on June 06, 2020:

Yes, Robert, this can also be the case sometimes.

An outsider who shows genuine concern for the child can be helpful. He would know how to handle the situation and not directly approach the child and ask unnecessary questions.

Robert Sacchi on June 06, 2020:

That makes sense, though sometimes parents don't recognize a problem. It would be great if all parents knew and understood their child's situation. Sometimes it takes an outsider to make parents aware. That is an outsider who can sport a problem as opposed to a busy body.

Lisha C (author) on June 06, 2020:

That's true, Robert. There could sometimes be other issues which are affecting the child. But introverted children would have always behaved the same. They are usually just uncomfortable in new situations and with new people; they would be perfectly content at home or with their close ones. Even if they don't express this directly, it would be visible to their immediate family.

But yes, communication is also important, especially if there is a suspicion that something is wrong. If there is a sudden withdrawal or inclination toward introversion, one should definitely pay close attention.

Robert Sacchi on June 06, 2020:

You bring up good points. With children it is a bit more difficult. With children there is the question, is the child an introvert or is there a problem?

Lisha C (author) on June 06, 2020:

Yes, Bill, it's great to spend time alone and do whatever it is that you enjoy. Thank you for your comment.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on June 06, 2020:

I was that child. I am that adult. I am comfortable with that. I found I actually like spending time with myself. :)

Lisha C (author) on May 30, 2020:

Thanks a lot for your comments, Paul.

We tend to become more extroverted with the increase in comfort with our surroundings. However, we usually go back to our introverted selves when in a new environment. I too know that I will always be an introvert, but it's probably for the best—I couldn't even imagine myself as one of those who talk and talk!

Paul Richard Kuehn from Udorn City, Thailand on May 30, 2020:

As a fellow introvert, I can certainly identify with you and this article. Being shy and introverted growing up made it hard for me to have girlfriends. After attending college and serving in the Navy, I became less introverted. Being an English teacher in Thailand also made me more of an extrovert. To this date, I still consider myself to be an introvert. Maybe that is why I cannot stand people who keep talking and talking when I am with them. This is a great article.

Lisha C (author) on May 28, 2020:

Thanks a lot for your comment, Milly.

It's funny to think how there can be such a huge change depending on who is around us. It's great that you have people like your sister who you are so comfortable with.

Milly Light on May 28, 2020:

This is definitely true. I was always the quiet one too. Since I was a child, I never used to talk. I only cried a lot. And I agree with all of your well elaborated points.

Though I tend to talk a lot around people that I am well used to. Like with my younger sister. We can talk all day and laugh until the head hurts.

I'm an introvert but I also love hanging around people I feel free with.

Lisha C (author) on May 24, 2020:

Glad that you could relate, Uriel. And I'm sure that there are many more like us!

Uriel Eliane from Toronto on May 24, 2020:

That is exactly my childhood you described here! Funny how people think having some time with yourself means you're shy or bored. To date, a book and some movies are all I need!