Too many of us confuse introversion with shyness. We worry that our more reserved kids should work on being more gregarious and, like some of their peers, more extroverted. The fact is that shyness and introversion are not synonymous, even though they may appear similar to the naked eye. When I think of the shy teens that I have met and worked with over the years, I think of all of the ways that I have helped them with their social anxiety. On the other hand, when I think of the introverted teens, I think of their parents' anxiety rather than theirs. The parents are often worried that their introverted kids are lacking skills or missing out. The kids, for the most part, tell me that they are doing just fine and are aware that their introverted style is just a part of who they are.
Introverted teens require less social stimulation and appear to be more comfortable than their more outgoing extroverted peers with being alone. I say let's celebrate both personality types and stop making the assumption that introverts are at a distinct disadvantage.
I have always considered myself to be on the introverted side and am happy in this neck of the woods. I can entertain myself without the company of many people. On the other hand, I do at times enjoy the company of lots of people, but probably on a less frequent basis than more outgoing types. Perhaps, because I am personally inclined in this direction, I am here to remind you about the benefits of introversion.
Let me start at the beginning and move down my list. Please feel free to add more items and let the dialogue begin.
1. Your introverted teen may be better at comforting and/or entertaining herself. She may find joy in a book or by taking a solo run. The more extroverted teen may require more company and hence more driving around to social activities. I know you would drive anywhere for your kid, but I'm just saying...
2. The more reserved teen may be happy with a small group of good friends and hence may be less likely to chase after the elusive populars in an effort to be accepted by many. This is a good thing, because the populars are usually not nice kids. I stand firmly behind this comment and observation.
3. Your introvert may be home more and therefore out less and less likely to be susceptible to peer pressure. Let me know your thoughts about this.
4. Introverts tend to focus more on their own thoughts than on the thoughts and feelings of the larger peer group. They may therefore be more creative and better able to make unique decisions on their own.
5. My observation is that the introverts are less likely to be bullies and make the lives of their peers miserable.
Let's hear it for the intoverted teens and let's see what their peers can learn from them!