Does your child like to play with toys alone? Is he gentle, quiet, or prefers to watch kids play from the side? It sounds like your beautiful girl or boy has an introverted temperament, just like the one third to nearly half of the population in the U.S..
Thank the nervous system
Introverts draw their strength from deep thinking and solving complicated problems. Being alone recharges them, while spending time with a big group of people exhausts them.
It’s not that introverts are shy or don’t like people. Their nervous systems are wired to prefer calm and contemplating states. The acetylcholine neurotransmitter is responsible for that. It stimulates good feelings during down time.
Introverted children spend more time in their heads, thinking, dreaming and internalizing the outside world. It is harder for them to express their thoughts verbally and they may prefer to have just one or two close friends over a big group.
If you’re worried about your child’s quiet nature, rest assured that introverts have a lot of inner strength. Our introverted leaders and entrepreneurs like Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Bill Gates and Marissa Mayer are testimony to that.
So, how does that translate into playtime? First, take the time to think about an environment that would help foster your child’s nature. A calm home setting, a garden, a quiet park or a one-on-one session with a friend can re-energize your child and help her thrive.
Second, remember that your precious introvert values meaningful connections. He may not be okay with small chit-chat around five children, but will value a deeper bond with a single friend. You can help make those connections by being a bridge between your child and the new friend. Jump in and build a block castle together, examine the autumn foliage, collect seashells, or draw. Be the link that gets the kids playing, then gently pull out and watch your child build a lasting relationship with her new friend.
Lastly, understand that your child might still need time alone. And that’s okay. They need solitude to process what happened during the day.
Try to work in 10-30 min of down time for your child. If you notice he is getting overwhelmed while playing with a friend, call them over to look at a book. Sit your child on one side, and the friend on the other. As you look through the book, be engaging but let your child be silent if he wants to. You being the divider will help him relax, recharge and enjoy the playdate.