Welcome to parenthood! So you’ve read all the books, watched all the videos, and pumped every new parent you know for information. The cupboards are stocked with sippy cups, the crib with diapers, and the car and house with more paraphernalia than any ten infants might need.
You never know.
There is one last tiny bit of advice left that this mother of five might offer. It’s so easy to become caught up in the thrill of a new baby that you forget that you’ve literally invited a stranger into your home. For life. No take-backs or do-overs. Your little one arrives as a complete package and the joy of parenting involves watching it open.
Or exploding, as those diapers warned you about.
While you get busier by the day as your child grows, it’s easy to forget to pause things long enough to explore who’s inside this sweet little package. Almost from the day they are born, your child introduces personality clues in the hopes that you can read them.
It’s vital to understand whether your child might lean to introversion, especially if you are an Extravert. Parents tend to assume that their children are going to be like them. Taking the time to see who the child really is will save you frustration, confusion, or possibly years of disappointment. There is so much joy in every personality, and the sooner you understand how your child works with personal energy, the sooner you will have a thriving, happy family.
Here are seven signs to look for that could point to your child being an introverted personality type. You will become aware of patterns over the long term. Personality traits do not tend to change drastically or suddenly. This isn’t a phase, it’s who your child has always been.
1. Regular signs of overstimulation
Your newborn will become fussy and stiff when passed around the room. Your toddler will cling to you when friends come running at the playground or avoid making eye contact when people try to engage them. Your elementary student will have a meltdown when finally home for the day. Perhaps refuse to stand on the stage in the spotlight to receive an award.
Introverts need alone time like a duck needs water and become progressively more tense until they can get it. Separation anxiety is a clue to Introversion. They can only handle crowds for short periods of time before needing to separate and recharge. It isn’t that they don’t love their family, friends, or school, it’s that they are overstimulated, drained from the attention, and need a breather.
2. Home sweet home
If your child prefers home base above all other places, they might be an Introvert. Introverted children crave stability, routines, and the familiar. Family conflicts, moving across the country, new babysitters, or putting a favorite stuffy in the washing machine gives them high levels of anxiety.
Your child may be very particular about the home environment, insisting on consistency. If your child emerges full of energy after spending some down time in the home environment, this is a strong indication that you have an Introvert.
3. The choices they make for recreation
Introverts have a rich inner world and a strong imagination. Your toddler may spend long periods of time with a single toy or learning to master a single puzzle. Your elementary student might begin closing the bedroom door to create space for deep diving into a book or creating art. Your child doesn’t like going to the hockey games but does like walks in the park. They will look askance at birthday parties but get excited about a new video game.
Disneyland is not the Happiest Place on Earth for Introverts. It isn’t that they don’t love rides and presents and cheering on their favorite team, it’s that they pay a price in energy to do so and they will estimate (read: worry) ahead of time how much it will cost and whether they have the resources to spend.
4. How they arrange friends
Friendship is a healthy part of any childhood, but when given the freedom, an Introvert will deliberately arrange friends in groups of ones or twos. Sleepovers are the best with a single friend, not a gang. Working on school projects with a buddy is preferred to working on a committee.
Opposites do attract, and your child may find that hanging out with Extraverts is both entertaining and relaxing because the Extravert does all the work (ie, spends the energy for both of them). Introverted friends will embrace your child’s preferences and they will contentedly parallel play all day. Introverted children will still have heaps of friends, but they will categorize them into life areas that allow them to budget their energy and thus, enjoy the relationship.
5. It’s so quiet
Introverted babies aren’t necessarily going to be verbal early on. They can talk but they are choosy about when they decide to speak up. If your child is the quiet one in the room, don’t assume shyness is the reason. It could be, but you might want to pay attention. The joke about the “quiet one in the room” is no joke.
Introverts love to interact as much as the next kid. But when confronted with a new person or situation, they take in what’s going on around them in a specific way. They are curious but cautious. They observe before they participate. They process internally instead of externally verbalizing all of the thoughts in their head. And if they decide to leap, look out. For better or worse, they’ve made a decision.
6. Talk to me
If you badger your child about sharing what happened in their world today and get regular single-word answers, they might be an Introvert. Attempting to force your Introvert to open up and share their internal thoughts and emotions can make them feel attacked. For Extraverts, a problem shared is a problem halved. For Introverts, a problem shared is a problem doubled.
None of this is personal and there are other ways into the Introvert’s confidence that allow for their need to defend their personal thoughts. Put a cushion between your point-blank questions and their answers, like journals, diaries, or calendars, or use a parallel activity like fishing or crafting to allow them the space to open up.
7. Old souls
What does your child say when the words finally appear? If your child seems to be more of an independent thinker, a problem-solver, a self-directed and self-contained kid, you may have a very self-aware Introvert in the house. Even at a very young age, they can verbalize astonishing insights. They may seem older than their age, able to step outside of themselves and reflect on their own behavior. You may be surprised by the keen observations that arrive packaged in the bald truths of a child.
Don’t jump to the conclusion that your child is sassy or disrespectful. It’s usually funny because it’s true, but a word to the wise: be careful what your Introvert is exposed to or overhears because all of it is fodder for this overthinker.
Learning how your child manages energy goes a long way toward building healthy lifelong relationships and mutual understanding. Long after the sippy cups and diapers are gone, an introverted child is a gift that never stops bringing joy to your family.