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The Introverted Child: Misunderstood and Ignored

The Introverted Child: Misunderstood and Ignored

The Introverted Child: Misunderstood and Ignored 150 150 se_admin

In a recent article by The New York Times, the struggle of an introverted child in a modern school setting was discussed. Many people–especially in American society–believe everyone has the ability to be an extrovert and that it’s better to be one. Schools have taken on this “group-oriented” and “leadership-driven” theme that doesn’t nourish the average introverted child. It focuses on everyone working together and ignoring the deep-thoughtfulness of which an introverted child is capable. This is due to a lack of understanding of what an introverted child needs to succeed versus what an extroverted one needs.

Your introverted child isn’t alone

According to Susan Cain, author of “Quiet”, between one-third and one-half of all people are introverted (this includes teens). Yet workplaces, schools, and society continues to put extroverts’ needs first. The extrovert–talkative, charismatic, surrounded by friends–is more often than not seen as the gold standard for success in America.

In the article, Susan Cain says, “‘There’s such an expectation that teenagers will embrace this natural rhythm of going from one thing to another,’ and will be at their happiest when surrounded by other teens.” For an introverted child, this is often untrue.

Many introverted teens love to spend time with their friends, but may want to spend the weekend at home due to overstimulation during the week. For an extroverted parent, this is hard to grasp and that’s because of the differences between introverts and extroverts. Even introverted parents raising an introverted child can worry sometimes if they’ve grown up with a negative connotation attached to being an introvert.

Parents need to reach out, try to understand, and make sure their introverted children know it’s okay to be quieter than the others. Being quiet doesn’t equal social anxiety or depression, but those things can arise if your introverted child feels as if their qualities are inferior or unwanted.

Differences between introverts and extroverts

Different Dopamine Activity. A major difference between an introverted child and an extroverted child is their brain’s reward system. Dopamine is used to tell your body to seek out external rewards, like getting an A
in class or getting a bonus at work. For extroverts, when they see a reward–like money–more dopamine is released in their brain than in an introvert’s. They get a spike of energy from stimulation from their environment that introverts simply don’t get; instead, that stimulation can be overwhelming and lead to them being worn down by it.

Introverts Love Acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter that’s also related to pleasure. Acetylcholine is for introverts as dopamine is for extroverts. The difference is that it’s released when you turn inwards: deep thinking, reading a book, etc. For extroverts, they don’t get a lot of action from acetylcholine, but introverts get a big bang. This explains why introverts tend to prefer quieter settings, because it’s easier to do the things that give them the most pleasure in that type of place.

Using the Nervous System Differently. An extroverted child and an introverted child both use both sides of their nervous system, they just use it differently. An introverted child will favor the parasympathetic side, which tells them to relax and get ready to contemplate. Extroverts will favor the sympathetic side, which tells them to be on alert and ready to get active.

Solstice East is here to help

Solstice East is a residential treatment center for girls, ages 14 to 18, grappling with anxiety, trauma, depression, and other emotional or behavioral issues. We strive to help our girls lead themselves back onto a path of health and happiness.

For more information about Solstice East, please call 828-484-9946.