Being an introvert in today’s exhibitionist world can be a drawback. Equip your child with skills necessary to help him thrive successfully.
By Parul Agarwal
Let’s start by understanding the characteristics of an introvert, and what makes an introvert different from an extrovert and an ambivert. The personality of an individual is understood through a set of characteristics that determine the way he thinks, feels and behaves. You can answer the following questions to understand your child’s personality.
Is your child at his best in a group or one-to-one?
Does he have many friends or only a few close friends?
Is he good at initiating and carrying on a conversation, or listening to others and sharing his thoughts once he is clear in his mind?
Does he thrive when he’s had a day full of external stimulation through interactions, or is he at his best when he’s had a day with a mix of interactions and time for himself?
Does he make decisions spontaneously or takes time to decide?
An extroverted child feels at her best when she is in a group and is more spontaneous at making decisions. Conversely, an introverted child seeks to be on her own to play and reflect, and prefers interacting with very few people. But an ambiverted child has a mix of both the characteristics.
By what age does a child’s personality begin to take shape?
A child’s personality begins to form as early as age 3 and becomes stable by the age of 20, but keeps evolving throughout his lifespan. Changes in his personality are based on his life’s experiences, learning and choices that he makes.
Does knowing your child’s personality type help in her upbringing?
Labelling your child with a personality type will give you a better idea of what your child thrives on and what drains him. And yet, it could confuse you if you expect your child to behave exactly in the manner suggested for his personality type. So, as a parent, how can you support your child’s healthy development? Let’s look at some of the ways.
1. Listen to your child. Sadly, ‘do this’ or ‘don’t do this’ is a phrase most children often hear. Schedules of most children are often planned by their parents without their opinion. When parents need to take decisions, they often give orders to their children, not knowing what else to do. But, at the same time, parents are also concerned that by using force, they may risk breaching the trust inherent in the parent–child relationship.
To counter this, speak to your child and make them partners in the decision-making process. For example, if you want your child to switch off the television and go out and play, you most likely wish for her to be healthy. Now, try to guess why your child wants to watch television. She wants to relax and have fun, and wants you to respect her choice.
Explain to your child the reasons why you want her to go out and play, and also listen to what she has to say as well. When parents and children hear each other out and connect with each other’s needs, they are more likely to find a solution that works well for both of them.
2. Help your child feel empowered. If your child expresses a desire to help you out in the kitchen, ask him why he wants to do so– does he wants to stay engaged, contribute to a household chore or is there some other reason. If he wants to help you because he wants to stay engaged, you can discuss other options, instead of having him help you out in the kitchen. But if he wants to help you with household chores, discuss the things that he can do on his own, like arrange the plates for a meal, etc.
3. Share power with them. Children are often asked to stay quiet and listen to what adults are saying, and do what is told to them. This approach can work with young children. However, as they grow up, they begin to voice their opinions, likes and dislikes more strongly, as they’ve seen grown-ups do. Making decisions together with your child, from a young age, can help her understand and reassure her that every family member’s opinion matters.
4. Teach them it’s ok to say ‘no’. Culturally, and as a collectivistic society, we’ve learnt to accommodate everyone’s wishes. Sadly, in the process, we have started believing that saying ‘no’ is rude. However, this is not true. For your child to say ‘yes’, he must learn to say ‘no’.
5. Familiarise your child with different emotions. Tell your child about the different emotions people feel –happy, sad, angry, excited, scared. You could do this during everyday conversations by sharing how you feel and by asking him how he feels.
6. Let them play. Academic demands often compel parents to look for ways to engage their children in studies. Children as young as 6 years old are made to attend tuitions after school and then finish their homework. Because of such a busy schedule, children don’t get time to play. Parents fail to understand that play time is not merely about engaging in games. It is unscheduled free time, which helps children learn how to make decisions, stay fit physically and mentally, regulate emotions and interact with other children.
7. Respecting the slow pace of children. Children spend every moment engaged in doing something. They constantly move from one activity to another, and feel frustrated and start crying when they don’t like something they are doing or are made to do. Discussing things with your child in advance will help her adapt better to any change and balance your lives..
For example, tell your child about your picnic plans two days ahead of time. You can tell her the names of all those who are going, the preparations you are going to make, the departure time, etc.
8. Spend time with your child. Spend time talking, playing, reading with your child, and as a family. These will create a loving and trusting bond among all family members.
9. Respect your child’s individuality. Judging and comparing children with others can make them feel frustrated. Encourage and support your child to experiment, ask questions and express himself. Focus on his strengths and use his own accomplishments as a benchmark.
10. Spend time with yourself, doing what you love. You can’t pour from an empty cup!Nurture your love for yourself by doing what you like to do. It is only when you care for yourself and feel full within, that you’ll be able to connect with everyone around you. Seek support from those around you to take care of your child. This would allow you to engage in activities you enjoy doing like gardening, reading a book or going out to shop.
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