Introvert vs shy kids

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Introvert vs shy kids

Postby ChiefKiasu » Mon Nov 17, 2014 2:16 pm

As parents or educators, we need to be aware and differentiate between introvert kids and shy kids. This is because while we can try to help shy kids overcome their fears and enjoy group-based activities, it is neither possible nor necessary to force introverted kids to become more "sociable".

What is the difference? A introverted child simply enjoys spending time alone and gets emotionally drained when he is forced to interact with many other people. The child prefers solitary activities (eg. reading, computers, imaginary play by themselves). The child would observe exactly how others work or play before joining in, as he cares deeply about how others think of his contribution to the overall team effort. They are usually deep thinkers and good listeners, and seldom share their own unfiltered thoughts freely with anyone else.

A shy child, on the other hand, is afraid of interacting with other people, even though he might want to do so.

As an example, during recess time, a shy child might sit alone but wishes he can join the fun-loving crowd at their table, but an introvert will simply ignore everyone and focus on the book he is reading.

Too often, introverts have been misunderstood as being "shy" and unfairly punished by teachers for not participating in class activities. There is really nothing wrong with being an introvert. Introverts can learn deeply because of their ability to focus, and are dignified by their ability to contribute effectively only when they need to. They make great strategists and leaders (eg. Abraham Lincoln, Bill Gates). And contrary to common lore, introverts can have excellent social skills.

So the next time your child's teacher tells you that your child is shy and does not talk much in class discussions, you should try to find out if your child's shyness comes from his social preference, or from the fear of interacting with people. Just because the child is quiet during class discussions does not mean he is not thinking. It could be that he fully understands the discussion but feels that everything that was worth discussing has already been discussed.

Here's a great TED talk by Susan Cain on how to teach a young introvert.

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Re: Introvert vs shy kids

Postby mathtuition88 » Sun Nov 30, 2014 7:55 pm

This is an excellent post, really enjoyed reading it.

In my humble opinion, there is really no need to force introvert kids to be "more extrovert". Doing so may be harmful and unnatural. It is like trying to force a left-hander to write with the right hand. Introvert children have some advantages of greater focus and deeper thinking.

In fact, based on my experience as a student and as a tutor, introverted children have a potential to be even better than extroverted children in terms of studies, especially in maths and science. (there are exceptions, of course)

Just a few drawbacks of introverts, they may be hesitant to ask questions in class, so asking a teacher one-to-one after class, or engaging a individual tutor may be beneficial. Also, in the age of the internet, an internet search is quite useful if used for educational purposes.

Another minor drawback, is introverts may tend to be perfectionists, which may lead to unhappiness or depression. Being perfect / achieving perfect score is not really possible, and not a wise target to choose.

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Re: Introvert vs shy kids

Postby linfangjun » Sun Nov 30, 2014 8:23 pm

it's interesting that that why the title is "introvert vs shy kids" but not "extrovert vs bold kids". (I can't think of an antonyms exactly opposite of shy as defined by the original post)

ever wonder why?

it seems to me that there is a stigma that being introverted/shy is less favorable than being extroverted/bold. university is pushing open classroom concept which naturally favors the extroverted/shy.

i doubt this is good if society wants to tap on everyone's talent and potential.
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Re: Introvert vs shy kids

Postby zeemimi » Sun Nov 30, 2014 9:04 pm

ChiefKiasu wrote:
So the next time your child's teacher tells you that your child is shy and does not talk much in class discussions, you should try to find out if your child's shyness comes from his social preference, or from the fear of interacting with people. Just because the child is quiet during class discussions does not mean he is not thinking. It could be that he fully understands the discussion but feels that everything that was worth discussing has already been discussed.

That sounds like one of my kids. Some teachers always say she doesn't speak up or ask questions in class. When I asked her why privately she says she knew and understood what was being taught and had nothing to ask. Another teacher said she asks good questions. She has no social problems either. So I've learnt to listen critically to teachers' feedback which may not be accurate sometimes.
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Re: Introvert vs shy kids

Postby ChiefKiasu » Sun Nov 30, 2014 10:47 pm

linfangjun wrote:it's interesting that that why the title is "introvert vs shy kids" but not "extrovert vs bold kids". (I can't think of an antonyms exactly opposite of shy as defined by the original post)

ever wonder why?

it seems to me that there is a stigma that being introverted/shy is less favorable than being extroverted/bold. university is pushing open classroom concept which naturally favors the extroverted/shy.

i doubt this is good if society wants to tap on everyone's talent and potential.


You have a good point. Our modern social norms do favor extroverts, due to traditional mediums such as TV, radio and print. We see people talking confidently, enjoying themselves at parties, and we have been programmed that it is cool to be the life of the party. Quiet people are no fun to be around, and seen as anti-social, withdrawn and not team players. Fortunately, that is far from reality. Not all of us can be Richard Branson, but I don't think Warren Buffet wants to be him either :)

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Re: Introvert vs shy kids

Postby ChiefKiasu » Sun Nov 30, 2014 10:49 pm

zeemimi wrote:That sounds like one of my kids. Some teachers always say she doesn't speak up or ask questions in class. When I asked her why privately she says she knew and understood what was being taught and had nothing to ask. Another teacher said she asks good questions. She has no social problems either. So I've learnt to listen critically to teachers' feedback which may not be accurate sometimes.


My son is an introvert too, but my daughter is an extrovert. It's quite educational to see how they work and play together :)

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Re: Introvert vs shy kids

Postby slmkhoo » Mon Dec 01, 2014 8:56 am

ChiefKiasu wrote:
zeemimi wrote:That sounds like one of my kids. Some teachers always say she doesn't speak up or ask questions in class. When I asked her why privately she says she knew and understood what was being taught and had nothing to ask. Another teacher said she asks good questions. She has no social problems either. So I've learnt to listen critically to teachers' feedback which may not be accurate sometimes.


My son is an introvert too, but my daughter is an extrovert. It's quite educational to see how they work and play together :)

I have one of each too. My older girl is extremely introvert and can be alone for days/weeks (maybe longer!) and enjoys doing stuff on her own. My younger one is extrovert, but not extremely so. I also have learnt to evaluate feedback from teachers critically as many have in mind an "ideal" student, usually one who is more participative and outgoing. There are some more perceptive teachers (often introverts themselves) who do look below the surface and recognise the less obvious strengths in an introvert student. Sometimes, a quiet person who only speaks when she has something to say that is of value will be listened to more carefully than a "babbling brook", at least by the discerning. And I agree that introvert does not necessarily mean shy. My introvert girl has no problems speaking up in public etc if she has to, just that she mostly doesn't want to.

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Re: Introvert vs shy kids

Postby dauchep » Fri Jan 02, 2015 3:50 pm

My daughter is just 4 years old so I'm not sure that she's shy or introvert but her teacher at kindergarten tells me that she has a difficult time to play with other people by just staring at them....

maybe I have to take a closer look.

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Re: Introvert vs shy kids

Postby D3@n » Fri Jan 02, 2015 5:28 pm

Personality and Parental upbringing aside, I think coming from smaller families and fewer siblings (some even the lone child), children these days have a harder time integrating when introduced to a social or school setting. Concept of sharing, taking turns, and especially communication have all taken a backseat, as opportunities for learning these are severely hampered.
Almost all of my students will come to my home, and walk past my other family members without even a smile or a greeting. While most just feel awkward, some of them also confuse shyness with politeness. I have to re-educate them in such simple social etiquette. I also have to keep reminding them to ask me questions and even to challenge me when they think I'm wrong. It is difficult for them to do so initially because it is not quite what students are taught in school, but with time, I see improvement with all as they get accustomed to me and my teaching.
Last edited by D3@n on Mon Jan 05, 2015 5:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Introvert vs shy kids

Postby aprillee989 » Mon Jan 05, 2015 3:02 pm

I guess its fine being either of them..be it shy or introvert..just that as parents and educators, we must adjust accordingly to suit him/her for optimised learning..sometimes its us that require more experience and learning :)

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