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I have a universe inside my mind- Introversion and how to go about an introverted kid


On a warm summer afternoon, I entered the compound, walked my way through the garden and the amphitheater. I hopped up the stairs of my favorite cafe and swam through a bunch of people to reach the host, “can I have a table for one please?” I asked, not without attracting a few stares. ‘Here we go’ I thought to myself. ‘If only they would understand that being an introvert isn't as bad as it is portrayed.’

My elders in the family tell me, that as a kid I would always be found busy in my own little world, cooking up stories that I would later narrate to the few kids I used to play with. Surprisingly, not a lot has changed; I still like to hang out and socialize with the tribes of friends I have and I still like my alone time. It’s like I need my alone time every day and it sort of charges my social battery which helps me socialize further. Childhood was a difficult time for me and even more so for my parents; although we now look back and catch a few jokes around it. Back then, they were worried for me as I would not consciously make efforts to go out and engage with other kids of my age. “Beta karna padta hai” (one has to do it) was the go-to response that I would receive when I’d ask mumma why she would need to maintain a bond with someone if they aren’t as close. I never really understood any of that, for me it has always been a habit (and it still is) to have a very small group of people that I would care about and invest in. It was quite late in my teenage when I came across what introversion is and what introverts are.

(source- childsavers)

Carl Jung very beautifully defined intraversion and I believe his definition should be common knowledge. He proposed that introverts are simply people who need an internal stimulation to achieve an optimal level of mental energy to function. Intraversion or being an introvert is not limited to being shy or silent or reserved, it is a spectrum and there is no single way of being an introvert. There are introverts who would not mind going out and socializing but there are also introverts who would rather stay in, every weekend. If only I and my parents knew this while growing up, they probably would have been able to support me better and wouldn't try to convince me to socialize.

Parenting a child in a society that idealizes the traits of extraversion can be hard, hence the parental worry “is my child okay?” around an introverted child, is valid. The first step, to ease the worries, is probably knowing a few things about introverted kids. Here are a few signs that your kid might be an introvert :

  • Your kid appears more energetic after spending time alone

  • They are generally found to be listening more than speaking.

  • They take their own time to process information and tend to be introspective.

  • They often appear to be in their own world.

  • They tend to be reserved, avoid group interaction and would prefer one-on-one talks.

  • In a group interaction they may need to be prompted to speak in order for them to share ideas. This often makes them appear to be rude, disrespectful and arrogant despite the reality being completely different.

(sources- Susain Cain)

Introversion not only stems from the psyche of a child but their body as well. Interestingly, the introverted brain receives more blood flow than an extroverted brain. The pathway for the blood to flow through the brain also differs in extroverts and introverts. And no it doesn't mean extroverts have slower processing, it simply means that the processing is different. Along with the blood flow, bodies of introverts vary in sensitivity towards dopamine. Dopamine is a feel good hormone and neurotransmitter. The good feeling that you get after you complete a task successfully, or are rewarded followed by the sudden surge in motivation and energy (feeling pumped up) is basically due to the release of dopamine. Introverts are very sensitive to dopamine i.e. they do not need much dopamine to feel good and motivated. The stimulation from the outer world may at times result in an overflow of dopamine in the blood of an introverted person. This overstimulation is dealt with by zoning out and spending time alone is a way an introvert regulates dopamine levels.

Since it is established that introverts are psychologically as well as physically meant this way, it is evident that parents can only do so much which may also go in vain. Here are a few things you can try:

  • Respect and give your child the space they need to recharge themselves.

  • Talk beforehand about a possible social gathering that they might have to be a part of.

  • Arrive at a social gathering early such that they are not exposed to a large crowd abruptly.

  • Do not force them to interact and have a lot of friends.

  • Interruptions are a no-go.

  • Do not express your disapproval publicly or in a social setting.

  • Ask them what they need and assess how you can help them get that.

(source- childsavers)

The hardships that accompany life as an introvert in a society of extroverts are endless. Drained of energy now, as I speak on behalf of other drained introverts, Introversion is not something kids can outgrow of, things would only get better if we rather cherish, and build upon the gifts we already have.

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