How Do You Know If Your Child Is an Introvert?

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What is an Introvert?

Contrary to what most people think, an introvert is not simply a person who is shy. In fact, being shy has little to do with being an introvert! Shyness has elements of apprehension, nervousness and anxiety, and while an introvert may also be shy, introversion itself is not shyness. Basically, an introvert is a person who is energized by being alone and whose energy is drained by being around other people.

Introverts are more concerned with the inner world of the mind. They enjoy thinking, exploring their thoughts and feelings. They often avoid social situations because being around people drains their energy. This is true even if they have good social skills. 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 and are comfortable with, can prevent them from their desire to be quietly introspective.

Being introspective, though, does not mean that an introvert never has conversations. However, those conversations are generally about ideas and concepts, not about what they consider the trivial matters of social small talk.

They tend to be far more interested in discussions about God's existence or the foundation of freedom than what the Kardashians are up to.

Studies have found that there are more 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. (Source: Ugur Sak, "A Synthesis of Research on Psychological Types of Gifted Adolescents.")

How Do You Know Your Child Is an Introvert?

First, you have to remember that introversion and shyness aren't the same thing. Then 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.
  1. Does your child get excited about the prospect of going to a party or other social function, but then may 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.
  2. 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 is quite possible for children to be a little of both. 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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