Being introverted is often broadcasted as something that is negative. However, there is nothing wrong with being shy and reserved. While society in general, celebrates loud and outgoing individuals that soak up all the limelight, there are many successful, passive intellectuals that are revered as quiet visionaries. Mahatma Gandhi and Rosa Parks are just some of the examples. Contemplating before speaking, allocating more time to yourself and not stuffing your opinions down someone else’s throat is not something bad. Being introverted can be natural and healthy.
Many often confuse introversion with shyness or autism. Shyness is common, especially in new or unfamiliar social situations. Introverted people typically require alone time in order to “recharge” and may not necessarily be shy. Autism, on the other hand, is a developmental disorder characterised by a lack of empathy and an emphasis on repetitive language and behaviours. This will require a consultation with a health care practitioner.
With the definition of introversion out of the way, it is now important to view this issue as something to be addressed and monitored instead of a form of illness that should be treated. Connecting with quiet kids can be difficult today with the increasing focus on interactive learning and group work in schools. In such situations, recognising the quiet kids’ abilities is needed to ensure that he/she does not feel left out.
Having a balanced education style as much as possible can go a long towards helping them. For instance, teachers can be encouraged to incorporate quiet activities such as independent reading. At home, you can avoid negative labels such as “timid” or “shy” and watch out for communication roadblocks such as blaming, judging, or shaming. Ask the kids about their day, but do not force a conversation out of them. You can even take things a step further and role-play challenging social situations.
You can also encourage kids to develop self-confidence and manage anxiety through mindfulness. This is not only applicable to quiet kids, but to burnt out adults, stressed mothers, overthinkers, and everyone in general. Yoga can help quiet kids stay calm and less anxious when coping with stress. Of course, some company will need to be provided if the child tends to tense up in new environments.
Conscious breathing and meditation can be very calming as well. A 2010 study found that adolescents who participated in a daily mindfulness program, including meditative breathing, experienced increased optimism, had better focus at school and were more willing to socialise.
The truth is, kids are often not entirely introverted or extroverted all the time. They are often in between, and are fluid depending on the situation. Just as how you are more talkative with your close friends and quieter in a new social environment, kids have their own preferences and will respond accordingly as well.