Lisha was an introvert, is an introvert and will always be an introvert.
One of the most important things to remember about introverts is that they can effortlessly share things with people they feel comfortable around. So, what does this mean? It's simple—to build a strong relationship with your introverted child, you need to become one of those people.
You might think that, since you are the parent, your child will automatically feel comfortable around you. However, this is not always the case—at least, not when it comes to an introverted child. If you do not make the extra effort to understand your child's needs and preferences, they will often hesitate to confide in you.
How to Get Closer to Your Introverted Child
Here are seven ways to help you communicate better with your child and build an everlasting relationship:
- Choose the Right Time to Talk With Them
- Pay Attention to Their Responses
- When They Finally Express Themselves—Listen!
- Encourage and Get Involved in Their Interests
- Show Support in Social Situations
- Respect Their Alone Time
- Learn More About Introversion
1. Choose the Right Time to Talk With Them
Many parents feel like their child does not communicate enough with them. You might find this worrisome, especially if you're an extrovert and you like to share your thoughts with others. But you must understand that introverts do not see the need for constant conversation. They spend the majority of their time thinking and tend to avoid all unnecessary talk. However, this does not mean that you should never interact with your child. You can certainly encourage them to share their thoughts and feelings.
Timing Is Everything
The most important thing to remember is to find the right time. If you try to start a conversation after a long day at school or a tiring family event, it's very likely that your child will not be interested. Their disinterest might make you hesitate to bring up that particular topic again. However, it may actually be something that your child wants to talk about—just not at that moment. If this is the case, you lose out on an opportunity to connect with them just because you chose the wrong time to bring it up.
When it comes to conversing, picking a time when your child is relaxed and at ease will always yield better results.
2. Pay Attention to Their Responses
It's also important for parents to be observant. Since you are not dealing with a child who will readily describe their every thought and action, it is important to pay attention to the not-so-obvious things. When you talk to them about something that isn't essential, only keep talking if they seem interested. Avoid asking too many questions if you can see that their mind is elsewhere. Repeatedly asking about or trying to discuss things in which they show no interest may lead them to avoid having conversations in the first place.
Observe their body language and learn to read their facial expressions. Doing this will help you understand them better and make up for their lack of spoken words.
Solitude matters, and for some people, it's the air they breathe.
— Susan Cain
3. When They Finally Do Express Themselves—Listen!
When your introverted child tries to start a conversation, it's a big deal to them. You may be used to starting several conversations each day with multiple people, but they are not. They tend to speak up only after a great deal of thought. Because of that, they might have expectations or want a specific outcome when they finally do express their thoughts. When you show disinterest or change the topic abruptly, it can be discouraging. Of course, you probably wouldn't do this intentionally, but that shouldn't be an excuse.
Listen Attentively and Respond Enthusiastically
Here is where you need to put in the extra effort for your introverted child: You need to pay close attention when they are attempting to engage with you. Any other child would probably keep repeating the same thing until you listened, but this is not the case with introverts. Introverted children will rarely bring up a topic again if no interest is shown; it almost registers as something pointless.
Since they tend to think through things and imagine things a great deal, they have probably contemplated this particular question or topic a lot before finally coming to you. If they considered approaching you 10 times before they finally did and you ended up not listening, it will probably take them 15–20 attempts before they approach you again.
So, whenever your child shares something with you, listen attentively and respond enthusiastically. It is also a great opportunity for you to extend the conversation and find out more about their thoughts and interests. Ask them questions related to the topic and engage with them. When you show interest in what they say, it's likely that they will deliberate less before coming to you and share more about whatever's on their mind.
Being Ignored Is Disheartening
Occasionally, when I brought up a topic with my parents, I noticed that the conversation would almost immediately change to something else. That often disappointed me and made me deliberate even more before starting a conversation. This was because the topic that I was eager to discuss (after careful thought) was brushed aside, and I did not get the reactions or responses that I wanted.
In addition to this, the new topic was usually something that I had no interest in discussing. This might sound a bit rude, but the truth is that if my parents had engaged with me initially, I would have been happy to listen to other things, too. However, with no acknowledgment from them, my mind was most likely elsewhere, still thinking about the original subject.
4. Encourage and Get Involved in Their Interests
A great way to get your child to open up to you is to find an activity that you can enjoy together. If your child is passionately interested in something, make sure that you encourage them to pursue this activity or hobby. If you actively help them develop their interest, they will not hesitate to ask for your support or opinion. When they start to share their progress or achievements in something that they love, it will strengthen your relationship.
However, this does not mean that you should put pressure on them or be overly enthusiastic. Know your boundaries and give them space to enjoy doing what they love.
5. Show Support in Social Situations
Presence at family functions and social events is mandatory for kids—they usually have no say in it. Even if they say that they don't want to attend, it's often not taken seriously. Of course, I'm not suggesting that you leave them alone at home, but just be sure to pay attention to their behavior.
For smaller groups of close family and friends, it's usually not a problem. But when it comes to bigger groups of unknown people, your child might feel uncomfortable and prefer not to go. It is difficult for them to interact with new people and make small talk. You might be excited to catch up with people whom you rarely see, but your child will be dreading it.
Watch Out for Rude Comments
At these events, people will often notice your child's quiet behavior and comment on it. There are several things which an introverted child might be tired of hearing:
- "Why are you so quiet?"
- "Why are you sitting here? All the other children are over there!"
- "Come, let me introduce you to them."
Sometimes people will comment repeatedly, making your child feel like they're caught in the spotlight.
Make Your Child Feel Comfortable
In situations like these, it is up to you to make your child feel comfortable. Let them know that it is okay for them to tag along or find a quiet corner rather than interact with an unknown large group. You must support them and convey to others that they are happy and do not need to be in constant company.
6. Respect Their Alone Time
When your child comes home after a long day at school, they will most likely want to spend some time alone. Let them relax and recharge in whatever way they like best. You can ask them about their day later on. It is also best to do this cheerfully and with patience; they should not feel like they have disappointed or angered you by not wanting to respond immediately. Create an atmosphere where they can come to you whenever they desire.
7. Learn More About Introversion
If you're not too familiar with introversion or the common traits of an introvert, you need to expand your knowledge on the subject. Doing so will help you deepen your understanding of your child's behavior and help you empathize with them. It can otherwise be difficult to understand why seemingly normal things (to you) can have a negative effect on your child.
Nowadays, people have access to more information than ever before, and so introverted children should no longer be misjudged for their behavior. They should not be labelled as rude or moody, and they should not be made to feel ashamed for their innate personality traits. They also should not be forced to become extroverted. As they grow up, they will learn how to deal with people in their own way. Constantly forcing them into uncomfortable situations at a young age will not help.
Read Books About Introverts and Introverted Children
A helpful book for you and your child to read is Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverted Kids by Susan Cain. It includes real-life examples and personal stories from several children and teenagers that deal with various aspects of their school, social and family lives. I found many of the stories relatable to my childhood and appreciated the advice given on how to handle different situations.
I think that any introverted child would benefit from reading this book as it teaches them to accept who they are and to use their introversion to their advantage. Parents or family members will also benefit from the book by gaining a deeper understanding of introverted children, learning how to help them and recognizing that their unique qualities are worth celebrating.
Let Your Child Know You Understand
Be sure to share what you've learned with your child and let them know that they are not alone. Many introverted children grow up thinking that they are wrong because—unfortunately—that's what most societies teach them. You need to show them that they do not need to change and can prosper by being their true selves. They will appreciate your understanding and be forever grateful for your support.
A Little Effort Goes a Long Way
If you do not take charge and show that you accept your child for who they are, there may be regrets on both sides. A childhood of misunderstanding and miscommunication is something that cannot be easily fixed.
As a parent, it is up to you to do whatever it takes to be loving, caring, understanding and approachable in all situations. By taking a genuine interest and putting in a little extra effort, you can build a relationship with your introverted child that both of you will cherish.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Lisha C
Lisha C (author) on July 31, 2020:
Yes, that's true—being patient is very important. Thanks for your comment, Devika.
Devika Primic on July 31, 2020:
An Introverted child requires patience and your valuable information is good advice.
Lisha C (author) on July 20, 2020:
Yes, that's true, Mary—the extroverts in our lives help to introduce us to new experiences. Thanks for the comment.
Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on July 20, 2020:
It is hard to be an introvert amid highly extroverted people, and most of my friends are. In a way, it helped me get out of myself more.
Lisha C (author) on July 20, 2020:
I can totally relate to that, Eric—it sounds like quite the perfect setup for the both of you! It's great that you understand his needs well.
I appreciate your comment, thank you.
Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on July 20, 2020:
We have a large living room with a craft table in the back. He tells me to leave him alone and not watch. I sit with my back to him, reading or one of my dumb foreign films with subtitles.
We like to be introverts together. I reckon that makes no sense to those who are not.
Thanks for a great piece here.
Lisha C (author) on July 19, 2020:
Thank you for your lovely comment, Liza. Support and encouragement are definitely some of the important things that let a child know that they are well taken care of.
Lisha C (author) on July 19, 2020:
Paying close attention will always help to understand a child's behavior better. Thank you for the encouraging comment, Pamela, I appreciate your read.
Liza from USA on July 19, 2020:
Your suggestions and tips are excellent, Lisha. I think everyone has a challenge on how to build a relationship with their children. I think support is important, it shows that you care about them. Thank you for sharing this well-written article.
Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on July 19, 2020:
My chilldren are all grown, but I think your tips for building a strong relationship are excellent. Certainly timing and listening carefully to them is so important. Really, each of your tips are excellent.