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. Loved reading this, Melissa. I’m not sure what to call myself. Not that I want to find out a term. But, I understand that I need my along time more than perhaps most people around me want. I recharge my batteries that way and am happy to connect and reconnect after that. Also, I’m my true self in small groups. Though, the no eye contact trait is not me at all and those who don’t make eye contact, I find them un-nerving!

  2. Hi Melissa – I finally came across this book and have read the first 70 pages. WOW, it totally describes my oldest son. I always knew he was introverted, but never realized all that that meant. My huge struggles have been after school on the playground when his younger extroverted brother wants to play and he (very grumpily) grabs my arm and says, “mom, let’s go home! “. The book has helped me understand him and his needs so much and I’m trying my best to empathize with him (rather than be annoyed). Anyway, just wanted to let you know AJ wasn’t the only introvert in their Kindergarten class!!!

  3. I love this article!! I am an introvert and you are absolutely right. It is about energy. I have been attacked by extroverts so many times for needing alone time. I have been called moody, stuck up, selfish, “funny”. My daughter is an extrovert. I have people giving me advice about what I need to do in order to meet her where she is at. The truth is that I get very tired with all the socializing and become irritable. I have no problem accepting her as an extrovert. I just never felt the need to engage in as much socialization. I love having fewer intimate friends. I facilitate workshops and speak publicly quite well. But I need my down time with a good book.

  4. Thanks for noting the difference between shyness and introversion, though I suspect it may be possible to be subject to both.

    I have the opposite parenting problem you do: I’m introverted, and my daughter is most definitely extroverted. To make matters more difficult, her father and older brother are also introverted. On the positive side, being extroverted means she’s not at all reluctant to tell us what she needs and express her frustration if she doesn’t get it.

    Fortunately for all of us, my in-laws recently moved to be near us. My mother-in-law is also quite extroverted, so having her close by means she and my daughter get to spend more time together. Not surprisingly, Grandma has taken an active role, doing the kinds of things with my daughter that they both like to do. I’m certain my daughter appreciates having someone around who understands her from personal experience rather than by acquired knowledge, which is the best I can do.

    Great post!