She’s not shy; She’s introverted

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Do you know the difference between shyness and introversion? I’m in a self-help group (of 1) of parents who don’t always understand really, really, really introverted kids. Maybe you’ll join me. Or maybe you’re that introvert who wants to be understood, like my daughter.

So, the big question — what is introversion?

It’s all about your energy.

I bet you know about extroversion already.  Extroverts get their energy from . . . say it all together now . . . being around other people.

So, introverts get their energy from . . . (any guesses?) . . . being alone.

It’s not shyness.

Shyness is a social anxiety.

It’s all about energy.

Introverts can be very social; they just need time to recharge their batteries away from others. Introversion is a temperament – not a behavior.

Think about the children in your life.  Do you know any who are introverts? They might

– need more processing time

– like to watch before participating

– not make eye contact

– only have one or two friends

– find it difficult to share their feelings

– learn by observing

– be very smart, even gifted

If this sounds familiar, you will want to read The Hidden Gifts of the Introverted Child by Marti Olsen Laney, Psy.D.  It’s helped me understand my “innie” and  her unique gifts. I reread it often.

As parents and teachers, I hope that we think about the needs of the introverts in our homes and classrooms — the world is designed by extroverts, for extroverts.  We need to give equal consideration to our introverts, too.

Introverts in Chapter Books

My list is from books I’ve personally read, and in no way complete nor perfect. If you want to add a suggestion or contest a book on my list, please comment below.

Franny K. Stein books by Jim Benton

Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery

The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg

Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones

All Four Stars by Tara Dairman

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

Chasing Redbird by Sharon Creech

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

Enola Holmes series by Nancy Springer

Wish Girl by Nikki Lofting

Stonebird by Mike Revell

Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

Almost Home by Joan Bauer

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Stoker and Holmes series by Colleen Gleason

introverted characters in children's literature

Do you have an introverted child?

Photo credit: rolands.lakis / / CC BY

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  1. I only realized within the last few years that I’m NOT shy, I’m introverted. It makes so much sense!!! My life makes sense now!
    I stumbled to this post looking for ways to help my daughter, age 7. Her 2nd grade teacher emailed me telling me that she is unhappy and just wants to be alone. Her teacher also said she has a hard time reading people and situations. Did anyone ever get that back from a teacher? I asked my daughter about it and she said she just wants everyone to go away so she can do her work in quiet. I promised her I would make sure she had some alone time each day if she did her best to try and focus with everyone around. Her teacher makes it seem like there’s a problem and has gone to the school counselor without talking to me first. How do you help them to deal with the mass amounts of “socializing” that HAS to happen at school? I’ve already loaded a few books onto my kindle to see if they will help me get some better ideas of how to help her. I have a hard time because even though I’m an introvert, I also was able to just tune everyone out and focus on my school work. It helped me feel like I was in my head, alone.

  2. I am definitely an introvert who loves to socialize. I always hated being called shy, people should never call a child shy. It made me feel paralyzed to be myself and it was like people were telling me my “me” was not good enough. I have no shell to come out of. 🙂 I have 2 extrovert girls and 2 (one not totally sure of) introvert boys. I know it is ok when one wants to play on there own or just rest on their own away from the rest of the family for a while. I know that in a busy day I need to make time for them to relax (umm, mainly me!).

  3. I have an introverted ‘child’ who is now 19. As I’m extroverted it has been an interesting parenting journey, we have both had to learn to respect and appreciate each others differences. To communicate and to listen, to realise that our differences are okay. We have had some tough times occasionally but have a wonderful relationship now. Dd is at College now but we have great indepth conversations on the phone.

    One thing though that I didn’t budge on, whilst I respected her need for introverted times I also insisted on her displaying good social manners and in learning to be social despite the fact that her preference would have been to happily sit in the corner. She is now grateful for this and will be the first to go up to a ‘loner’ in a group situation and make them feel welcome. Not necessarily being the life of the party but smoothing the way for others. I’m so proud of her, she has so many talents, natural and learnt.

    1. The best way to make friends is to go up to the person on their own in a party. I have met so many wonderful people that way. When you do that you are the life of the party to them.

  4. I think it’s important to point out that introversion can dispose a child to shyness if they aren’t able to make and cultivate meaningful relationships to build up their social skills. I was extremely introverted as a child, and have suffered from social anxiety and agoraphobia since adolescence. In addition to being sensitive to the introverted child’s need to regroup and process, it’s necessary that when in a group they are effectively connecting to the people around them and not just skimming the surface, or flitting from group to group without connecting. A few close friends go a lot further for the introvert than a wide circle of friends.