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 | By Sheri Wohlfert

Introvert or Extrovert?

Ditch the Labels for Your Children

Every parent wants their child to be healthy and happy. We want them to have good friends and feel like they are safe and they belong. We seem to live in a world that rewards the outgoing, extroverted kids who make friends easily, demonstrate leadership and seem confident. If that doesn’t describe your child, here are some thoughts to help put your mind and heart at peace.

First things first.

God created each of us in his image and he has designed a perfect plan for our life. Pray often with and for your child to discover God’s plan for them, which will perfectly use each and every gift, talent and personality trait with which they are blessed.

Toss the labels and ditch the comparisons.

Words such as shy, introverted or withdrawn don’t paint an accurate picture, and when we use them, they can often be interpreted as a second-class version of cheerful, outgoing or extroverted. Be extra careful not to use these labels in the presence of your kids.

Ask the questions.

If you are worried that your child isn’t playing with friends at recess, ask them to tell you how they feel about that? Very often kids need lunch and recess time to clear their head and enjoy some peace and quiet. Class time is full of thinking, talking and action. Some kids play alone because they need to sort, sift and decompress. If they wish they had friends to play with, try the next strategy.

Friendship 101.

If they wish they had more friendships, there are things you can do to help. Role-play the conversations. Kids who are shy or experience some social anxiety need to practice what it sounds like to invite someone to play or ask if they can be included in a game. This is also a great place to ask for the help of the teacher who observes your child interacting with others all day long and can offer insight.

Think quality.

One or two good friends with many like interests is more powerful than a dozen acquaintances. Help your child come up with a list of things they like to do, play, learn about and experience. Then find out who else in school or their social circle has a list that’s similar and put them together. Think short-term play date or outing. If you have a quiet child who loves Avenger movies, invite a classmate or neighbor who shares that interest to a movie and popcorn at your house. The movie will fill the silence and afterward give them common ground for conversation and friendship-building. Don’t interpret their quiet interaction in the beginning as negative, we communicate in many ways and sometimes getting comfortable takes time.

Send the message:

It’s OK to be who you are! Our Church history is full of quiet, thoughtful, contemplative, peaceful souls. St. John Paul II was a former actor who was full of conversation and powerful charismatic leadership, while St. Teresa of Calcutta was quiet, peaceful and dreaded being in public. Both changed the world and demonstrated holiness in completely different styles. God is inviting each of us to do the same … including our children.

Sheri Wohlfert is a Catholic school teacher, speaker, writer and founder of Joyful Words Ministries. Sheri blogs at