When Your Child Is An Introvert

by Jessica Hoefer-Land
Originally Published: 

It can be so interesting to see the difference in siblings. Take my children, for example. There is one who is extremely outgoing, positive and funny and makes friends at the drop of a hat. This is a kid who asks to ride the school bus home and purposely chooses the longest route so he can hang out with his friends. A kid who has been dubbed “Jo Jo” at school, he is quickly becoming known for his ultra-outgoing (sometimes too outgoing) attitude and quick wit.

Then there’s another child—sullen, introverted, antisocial, prefers books over friends and music by My Chemical Romance over the ever-popular Taylor Swift. She’s the one who eats alone at the lunch table and reads.

Remember those kids?

I do. Because at times, I was one of them. Only by putting myself out there, however, did that change. No one could do it for me. I had to do it for myself. As tough as it was (I changed high schools five times), I grew a bit more brave, and now, you can’t shut me up.

I believe it’s important to encourage kids’ individuality and, in a sense, celebrate the fact they are developing into their own selves. But, I’m not going to lie—I want better for my daughter. I want her to welcome friendships and interactions. I want to see less cynicism and more positive outlooks in her views on life. She has so much to offer and does. I find myself inspired daily by my daughter’s fierce belief in equal rights for women and her outspoken hatred of racism. Her love for the rain, animals and writing offers a glimpse into the remarkable young woman she is becoming.

To be honest, though, right now we are stuck. We are stuck because our daughter wants nothing to do with the suggestions her father and I give her to combat social anxiety. She is happy in her little bubble surrounded by her art supplies and journals. This is fine—there just needs to be some balance.

On the one hand, ultimatums can increase reticence, yet not addressing the issue is a disservice to her in the long run. How I miss the days when the biggest concern was whether or not we would make library story hour on time. Those years held their own angst, what, with toddlerhood and potty training.

And so do these. That’s why they are called seasons, I suppose.

One of these days, we may look back and laugh over our needless concerns, but what if I don’t because we didn’t intervene for our child’s well-being? So, we signed her up for an after-school art club. My daughter was so resistant to the idea she threatened to ditch and walk home. But, after stern instructions from both her father and me that a decision such as that would be a really bad idea, she went.

I wish I could end this with a big happy conclusion, but reality dictates otherwise. She hated it. I think that’s OK, though, because it can be a process. She may never like it, and that’s OK too. We won’t force her to continue, but we have asked that she continue for at least three weeks.

She topped it off when I picked her up, however. The first day of class was more of a “let’s just be creative and doodle” session. My daughter got in the car, handed me what was essentially a coloring page and said, “This is what $180 for a class buys you.”

She knows right where to get me. Well played, my dear daughter, well played. She’s still going back next week.

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