General introversion is just one of many teen challenges we aim to help with at Heritage, and we know what a struggle it can be for many adolescents. It’s common for outsiders to mistake introversion as something more sinister or negative, but in reality it’s often just a personality type that may, in some cases, be at higher risk of struggles with depression.
Our residential treatment center programs at Heritage are tailored to the individual needs of our students, and we’re experienced with kids who struggle with introversion as part of their challenges. For you as a parent, however, there are also several general approaches you can take to help you connect with your introverted teen.
The first step for proper parenting with introverted teens is the acceptance that their challenges aren’t anyone’s fault, and aren’t anything to become upset about. There’s nothing unusual about being an introvert – depending on the study you’re citing, anywhere between 30 and 50 percent of the American population may be classified as introverts.
Make sure your teen knows this, but also make sure you’re fully on board with it too. Don’t be bothered that their friendship circle might be a bit smaller, or they might enjoy different activities than most kids. There’s nothing wrong with any of this.
When you and your teen are involved in social interactions, bring them along slowly. These sort of events can often be overwhelming, especially during younger years, so don’t bring them to large social engagements where they’ll have to meet many new people.
Make sure you discuss social events in advance with your teen, and use any soothing techniques you’ve developed to ease any concerns they may have. Remind them that they can take breaks whenever they need to, even if it means leaving for a little while. The more comfortable you can make them, the better chance they’ll associate these events with positive experiences.
Praise and Reinforcement
Most introverted teens are well aware of their challenge by a certain age, and it’s often a primary source of anxiety or depression. One way to combat this is with frequent praise for positive steps, and frequent reinforcement wherever possible. In particular, pointing out any time your teen accomplishes a task he or she was previously incapable of is a great way to stimulate further attempts. Help your teen cultivate passions, and encourage them to find activities they enjoy.
Even if you succeed in many of your socialization efforts, know that your introvert will always still be an introvert at heart. They’ll need time to themselves, and you can’t take this personally – even if it seems that way at the time. Allowing them their space will help make your own relationship stronger over time.