How I Raised My Introvert Toddler
When my son turned one, it made things clear to me and I gradually understood that like every other child my son is different too. He might not turn out to be a chatterbox like me. He didn’t like to mingle much with people. I found him a little reserved and someone who didn’t like the idea of too many people around. I would take him to the garden to enjoy with other kids but he would stand back and just watch (which he still does at times, by the way). To me, he would tell many stories in his own language but would cry his lungs out if someone else tries to even talk to him. His social life was anyways limited to two people (mom and dad) and he was completely okay with that. He never wanted a third person in his territory. His smile was too costly and used to be the rarest scene. And the world started to label him shy, introvert, and not so social.
Like any other parent would have felt, even I worried about my child’s behaviour and even wondered if this behaviour was emotionally and mentally healthy. But the good things about him were or rather still are he is a great observant. You might not find him participating. As he is, busy in observing things around him. And with a positive mindset, I decided to work on this.
So here are a few things that I did or am still doing as I raise my so-called ‘Introvert’ toddler:
I started to begin my day with a note to myself that for any child, this world is much more different and huge than a tiny womb and it is perfectly fine for an introvert child to be anxious. Some get accustomed to this place fast and some (like mine) take a little extra time. And with that, I felt my world was changing.
Introduce him to new people, new activity, and new places one at a time. Let him get familiar with that and then move to the next. As Susan Cain says about an introvert child
“Don’t let him opt out, but do respect his limits, even when they seem extreme. Inch together toward the thing he’s wary of.”
This was a major game changer. When he turned 1.5, I decided to join a mother toddler program. At my place, only two schools took this program seriously and were very far from my place. But I was sure, this would work and it truly did. We used to be at the school 5 minutes before the time on purpose, so my son could get comfortable at that place and feel like other kids and moms were entering a space he already “owns.” Gradually I could see him adjusting to others without getting anxious. Thanks to his teacher who never mentioned the word introvert and always praised him for being so observant, even though he was less participative.
Make your introvert kid comfortable, when in new surroundings:
When at a social event or birthday parties, he used to stick with me at times and would simply watch the place and people for few minutes. I would not ask him to go and play until he felt comfortable. Observing helped him process things. Once he would start mingling, I would make a little distance.
Cultivate his interests:
He did not enjoy playing much in the park with kids. He had his own games. He would prefer doing pretend and plays or solo rides like swings. And if I started to push him to play with everyone, my introvert toddler would want to go back home. So we got him a bicycle. Now when he rides it and see other kids also riding he would ask them if he could ride along and have a race. Alternatively, you can make the child join a class like skating or gymnastics where the game is played individually but then you get many more kids to meet along.
Teaching him to stand for himself:
I have often heard him coming and complaining to me that Mumma this buy pushed me or hit me. It’s important to let an ‘introvert’ child know that his voice plays an important role and a loud NO can make a lot of difference. Devaansh is still undergoing training for the same.
Be a good listener:
Listening is an important part of proper communication. So if we want your child to talk, important is you are ready to listen to him. I always tried to ask many questions to draw him out. Just make sure that these questions sound like a normal talk and not a round of interrogation. And the result today is I really have to ask him to stop at times, LOL.
Do not label or let the world label your child:
Never in front of the child say or let anyone say that he or she is shy. So many people across this motherhood journey would say ‘ Aww he is too shy’ when he would not like to greet them and I would just say with a smile, No, it’s just the mood. We all have mood swings, don’t we?
Organise play dates at your house. This way my son started mingling with kids. He used to be in the comfort of his home and would share his toys with others. Slowly and gradually, he started going to their places to play.
Introduce him to a third person:
We are a nuclear family of just two or rather say one (as my husband goes to work at 9 am and would return only at 8 or 9 pm). I felt that the little one needed more company of others and not just me all the time. I hired a nanny for just two hours. Her role was only to play with Devaansh. Be sure about the person you are hiring before making such a decision. I was lucky that I found a perfect friend for Devaansh and me.
Things now have really changed for the better. My son does not feel hesitant to talk to strangers or greet them. However, he still prefers to read books or play pretend and plays over playing with many kids in the park, which I feel is perfectly fine.
“Don’t just accept your child for who he is; treasure him for who he is.”
Anubhuti recently became a SAHM and full-time blogger at criesnlaughter.com and has an amazing blended family with a toddler of 3 years. She served as an Snr. Analyst in a Chicago based investment bank for 5years later to realize that her heart lies with kids. She served as a teacher for another 5 years to take care of many little and big ones before she was blessed with a responsibility of being a full time working mom.