How Do You Know If Your Child Is an Introvert?

Many Gifted Children Need Time Alone to Recharge

Girl drawing alone
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Contrary to popular opinion, an introvert is not simply a person who is shy. In fact, being shy has little to do with being an introvert. Unlike shyness, which is a negative reaction to social situations, introversion is actually a personality trait.

What Is an Introvert?

An introvert is a person who is energized by being alone and whose energy is drained by being around other people. Introvert may be social and enjoy other people, but they also need time alone to recharge.

By contrast, a shy person is likely to be apprehensive, nervous, and anxious about social interaction. While an introvert may also be shy, introversion itself is not shyness.

How Do Introverts Interact with Others?

Unlike extroverts, who are energized by social interaction, Introverts are more concerned with the inner world of the mind. They enjoy thinking, exploring their thoughts and feelings. After being with people for any length of time, such as at a party, they need time alone to "recharge."

When introverts want to be alone, it is not, by itself, a sign of depression. It means that they either need to regain their energy from being around people or that they simply want the time to be with their own thoughts. Being with people, even people they like, can be tiring and even frustrating.

How Do You Know Your Child Is an Introvert?

If your child is gifted, there's a good chance he or she is an introvert.

Studies have found that there are at least as many introverts among the gifted population than there are among the general population. Linda Silverman, for example, found that 66% of the gifted population are introverts. Others found the percentage to be lower, about 50%. However, they also found that among the general population, only 25% are introverts.

Remember that introversion and shyness are different. If your child is shy, you will notice symptoms such as anxiety or even fear related to the prospect of social interaction. If your child is introverted, however, you won't notice anxiety; instead, you will notice that he makes specific social choices on a regular basis.

To determine whether your child is introverted, you can ask yourself these questions:

  1. Does your child want to be alone after spending time around other people? For example, if he goes to a party, does he come home and want to be alone or does he excitedly tell you about the party? If he wants to be alone, he is most likely an introvert. Introverts are drained by social interaction and need time alone to re-energize.
  2. Does your child have many friends and does he enjoy their constant company? Or does she have just a few, close friends, enjoying their company, but then also enjoying time by herself?  If she has a few close friends, she is most likely an introvert. Introverts do not need or want constant company.
  3. Does your child get excited about the prospect of going to a party or other social function, but then sit quietly in a corner talking with one or two good friends? Or does he mix and mingle with everyone?  If she is more likely to sit and talk with one or two close friends, she is most likely an introvert. Introverts can be just as excited as an extrovert at the prospect of going to a party but may become overwhelmed by all the noise and activity. Sitting and talking to just one or two people can be their idea of fun.
  1. Does your child tend to be rather quiet when the discussions are about trivial matters, what we call small talk, but is talkative when the discussions are on deeper issues?  For example, does you child have little to say about the latest fashions or the weather, but talkative if the discussion is about why the weather conditions are what they are? If that describes your child, she is most likely an introvert. Introverts are just not very interested in what they consider insignificant matters, but they can talk your ear off if you give them a chance to talk about their favorite topic in-depth.

If your answers to these questions were "sometimes yes, and sometimes no," is quite possible that your child is both introverted and extroverted.

In fact, it is more likely for a gifted person to be equally introverted and extroverted than it is for someone in the general population to be equally both. The important thing to remember is that introversion is a personality trait. It doesn't need fixing!

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