How to parent your introverted child, your mini-me. “How do you make someone’s journey smoother and easier, without changing the course of their dreams?”
We sit together on the couch, my arms are wrapped around his long and lanky body. It’s been a long week, the first days back to school are always so tiring, for everyone. His almost-8 year-old mind is racing 50 mph. He reminds me of someone I know.
I picture the hamsters running at full speed inside his head – trying to prioritize all the thoughts that are bombarding his brain. He’s a boy, a big kid, a little man – always my baby. We sit like two peas in a pod.
We start to talk. Opening up about the things that fill his mind. At first glance his thoughts are basic and straight forward – it appears that he’s a kid obsessed with the latest craze. He is fully consumed by Pokemon cards – little pieces of paper with Japanese animation characters that apparently evolve into different creatures. The basis of the game is far beyond my comprehension.
I feel old for not being able to grasp the incredible coolness factor. I am sad that I can’t fully understand the reason for his obsession – but I listen to him. His verbal diarrhea about the evolving characters fill the airways for a while. I pepper in a few questions to appear interested. This kid, his one track mind, his obsessions – they all remind me of someone.
[bctt tweet=”#Parenting an introverted child can be hard – unless you are this mom! #PositiveParenting” username=”MamaintheNow”]
We had our usual family dinner earlier. We went around the table to hear everyone’s “favorite part of the day,” it was interesting, as always. The replies ranged from “going to the playground” to “coming home from work.”
Our little thinker, the self-proclaimed paleontologist enjoyed “searching for fossils during recess.” Instantly images of a lone boy digging in a corner of the school yard flashed through our concerned parental minds. I had seen this picture before.
Dada immediately tried to offer alternative activities that might be more appropriate and perhaps even promote friendships – common recess activities such as playing soccer, running on the track or simply playing in the playground.
The suggestions were not well received. I saw a familiar look in the little boy’s eyes – “you don’t understand me – I have to find fossils for my collection.”
How to be a Good Parent to Your Introverted Mini-Me
The grownups exchanged glances and I took the baton. It was my turn to distract and discourage – without deflating. I reminded our little “rock” collector that the treasures he had been bringing home in his pockets were simply nothing more than pieces of asphalt and concrete.
I promised to take him to the beach this weekend where we would look for real treasures together. Phew – tragedy averted. The gleam in his eyes returned. He felt understood, validated and heard. I recognized this look.
On the couch, the two of us. A boy and his mama. I want to get inside his head. I want to make life easier for him. How do you foster independence, but then pull on the reins when they appear too independent?
For a moment, I feel sad for my boy. Upset that friendships don’t come easy. Concerned, but perhaps I am also just tired from a long week. Again, this feeling of deja vu.
Then I see it, right in front of me – all of a sudden everything is clear to me. This little boy isn’t all that unique. He is not a loner because of his interests, but by choice. He doesn’t take after his athletic dada. He doesn’t live for sports, and that is OK. He takes after the other half of his parental dynamic duo…
I feel his angst, frustration and curiosity as if they were my own. He never needs to speak for me to know what it is on his mind. He is me, I am him. He doesn’t always do things as we would have hoped or expected, but he sure is true to who he is – and that is all that matters!
How do you feel when you see your child struggle with things you dealt with in your childhood?
To learn more about the way they parent in Denmark, how I was raised, check out these posts.
Learning Through Play, the Danish Way
Raise Happy and Confident Children, the Danish Way
My little man is just the opposite. He’s so extroverted he introduced himself (and his mommy and daddy) to the moon. No joke.
He’s just like his daddy – they are both not just social but have this inexplicable NEED to be around other people and struggle being indepedent or alone. When they are alone they have no clue what to do with themselves and get lonely, depressed, and anxious.
I, on the other hand, am an introvert and love being alone. This is by far my biggest struggle as a mom because my son wants me to do EVERYTHING with him. I can’t say “go play” or give him toys to play with and step back. He needs constant interaction and stimulation. Even at the park he’s begging me to play with him. It’s very very hard to get a break and very draining.
It’s so foreign to me and where you spend your time reading your child’s mind I am constantly scratching my head thinking WHY can’t he just go away and play and why is everything SO HARD for him?!?! Sometimes, I wonder if there’s any part of me in him at all. lol
I wish I had more advice for you! You seem like a fairly social person and I think that introverts really do grow into social interaction more with time, some more than others.
Katie @ Pick Any Two says
My son is still so young, but I can already see glimpses of myself and my struggles in him. He appears to be a perfectionist and holds himself to high expectations. I hope that I can find a way to help him harness the goodness in those traits without letting them cause unnecessary stress and anxiety, as has often been the case for me. Beautifully written post!
Brought out unexpected tears. Love this………