Introverts and the HolidaysDecember 21, 2020
Although 2020 is looking much different for the holidays, it doesn’t mean there won’t be celebrations, whether in person or over Zoom. If you celebrate Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, or New Years, chances are you’ll be seeing loved ones in some way. This might be a little scary for the introverted child in your life. But what does it mean to be an introvert, and how can a parent be helpful in nurturing an introverted child during the holiday season?
What is an Introvert?
Introversion is not as uncommon as one might think. In fact, the US population is made up of at least 30% introverts, with some sources stating closer to 50%. Introversion over extraversion does not mean that something is wrong with your child. It just means that their brains are wired differently than someone who is more extraverted. Introverts and extraverts use entirely different sides of the nervous system. Extraverts react less to dopamine, so the more stimulation they receive from others and the world around them, the more energetic they feel. Introverts react more to dopamine and therefore require less stimulation from others.
So what obstacles do introverted children face in their daily lives? Society, in many ways, leans more towards the extraverted side of things, especially in schools and in the workplace. Teachers assign group presentations and collaborative projects to encourage socialization in children, but introverted children prefer to work on their own most of the time. An introvert might not be interested in joining Girl Scouts or signing up for the basketball team and would rather read a book or find a creative outlet they can do on their own. Parents and teachers are quick to label someone with more introverted qualities as shy, but being shy and being introverted are not the same thing. The most important tip is to reassure your child that there is nothing wrong with them and that you are there to support them.
What about the holidays?
Let’s say you have a holiday gathering approaching, and your child doesn’t seem to be too thrilled about the whole ordeal. There are a few options to help your child not feel so overwhelmed at the idea of a gathering with unfamiliar people. Remember, when it comes to new places, don’t not go, just go slowly.
- Communicate with your child. Let them know you love and support them just as they are.
- If possible, get to the event early so that your child can become aware of the space. This will help them feel more in control of the situation.
- If you can’t arrive somewhere early (or if you are having a Zoom meeting) make sure that you talk to your child about the event. Go over what it is, who is going to be there, what might happen, and how your child thinks they might feel about it.
- Never pressure a child to speak, and never talk for the child. Give your child some conversation starters to learn, just in case they do want to start a conversation with someone. (And if they do make an effort to socialize, make sure to tell them they are doing a great job!)
- Let them know that it is ok for them to take a break from the action if they need to. Or they can just observe what’s going on. While extraverts are recharged by social interaction, introverts can find it very draining. Help them find ways to navigate their feelings, which will strengthen their self confidence in the long run.
Be Your Child’s Greatest Cheerleader!
The holidays can definitely be stressful for us as adults, but they shouldn’t be stressful for your children. Support who they are and their decisions, while still encouraging them to take risks and speak up when they want to. Also, make a point to schedule time with them, one on one, in a space where they are comfortable, and make some holiday memories of your own! It is not easy to raise an introvert in such an extraverted world, but it’s not impossible. Think of your children’s introversion not as an adversity to be overcome, but as a skill to be harnessed.
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