As I’m sure we’re all familiar with by now, children are born with different temperaments. There are the extroverted children, who get their energy from other people, and then there are children who are introverted and need time alone to restore their energy. This concept applies to adults too, obviously.
With Christmas right on the horizon, it’s a good idea to start thinking about ways to help make this sometimes-chaotic time of year a little easier on your quiet little darling. All the social events and family gatherings really add up, and children who are introverted can get pretty exhausted with the social overload that flows on (and on, and on).
Here are five ways you can help your little introvert manage family Christmas get-togethers with ease.
Read more about introverted children:
- 8 things you need to know about raising introverted little ones
- The highs and lows of being an introverted parent
- Shy vs loud: How a child’s temperament HUGELY influences your parenting style
1. Discuss different types of greetings
One of the most daunting things that introverted children encounter at family gatherings is the prospect of having to say hello or hug someone they don’t really know. As a way to empower your child to deal with this situation on their own terms, discuss different types of greetings – and let her pick. For example, she might like to give a wave; perhaps she wants to give a smile, or maybe she fancies giving a high-five instead – whatever makes her feel the most comfortable. It can help to discuss this beforehand with family so that everyone is on the same page. Don’t ever force any type of affection or hug from your child – introverted or not.
2. Arrive early and get settled
Instead of arriving into a noisy room full of guests that your introverted child may not be familiar with – be prepared, and get there a little earlier. Allow the extra time for your child to get acquainted with the unfamiliar environment; find out where the toilets are and give them a chance to settle in before everyone else arrives. It will calm their nerves and help their anxiety.
3. Create a quiet space for them
Have a backup plan in case it gets too noisy or overwhelming. Create, in advance, an area with your child that she can retreat to for solitude. This way, she has an exit plan and will be able to manage for longer – rather than just wanting to leave. The quiet space can be used to recharge with a book or an iDevice for a short period – whatever helps.
4. Give them time
When it comes to supporting children who are quieter than others, time is something they need a lot of, and it’s something that cannot be rushed. Encourage family members to be patient and understanding, and emphasise that your child will feel comfortable in her own time. Honestly, the best thing that other people can do for children who are introverted is to back off and give them space. It will be worth it.
5. Accept them for who they are
At the end of the day – it’s really important for you to accept your child the way they are, even if it isn’t the same as you. Speaking as the mother of three introverted children, I can say for sure that there is something very special about my quieter little darlings. They seem to possess a real gift for observation and empathy, and when you embrace them for who they are – you find yourself with a loyal, wonderful companion. Definitely worth the time that it takes to get to know them.
With a little preparation and planning, you can make the holiday season a really positive and enjoyable time for all your family members – outgoing or not. And isn’t that what Christmas is all about, anyway? Merry Christmas!