Is Your Baby or Toddler an Introvert?
by Nancy R. Fenn
You can tell for sure. Introverted babies and toddlers move away from lights, noise, motion and people. Extroverted babies move toward them.
If your baby moves away from people, it doesn’t mean your little one is going to be unsociable, it just means he or she is going to be an introvert!
Even at a very young age, your introverted child needs to take people on his or her own terms. Often introverted babies and children signal this quality by staring intensely at a new person as if setting up an energetic no man’s land or at least a slow down zone.
I remember the first time I met my enchanting 18 month old nephew. When I entered his bedroom, I waited quietly at the door while his mother lifted him out of the crib and onto the floor. He needed to get a complete sense of who I was. As he came toward me (forced to by circumstances), he looked me right in the eye all the way across the room with his binkie hanging from his hand as if to say, “You can look, but please don’t touch.” Introverts are territorial and they are territorial about their own bodies. One can only imagine the horror of swooping down on a child like this and grabbing him up in your arms. No, no, no on several levels!
An extroverted child on the other hand will begin to create sound and motion in order to draw another person to them. Their faces form vivid expressions as their eyebrows go up and their mouths squeal, shout, laugh or “order” as only a two year old can, “Come here!” or “Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!” Their hands twirls, their heads bob and their bodies move toward you as fast as their dancing feet can carry them.
My nephew who made as little motion as possible in crossing the distance between us. I mirrored his body language, always a good thing in human relations but I would have done it anyway. I’m an introvert, too.
We used to have a test that went around in the days before the internet. Among a number of other things, you were asked to react to what it would be like to be in a plain white room with no windows or doors. The way the test was set up, this revealed that it was either your idea of heaven or hell.
Introverts thought it was heaven. They found the lack of environmental stimulation relaxing, a relief, and especially the fact that there were no doors or windows so there could be no unexpected interruptions. Extroverts on the other hand considered the lack of stimulation – color, sound, noise, motion and windows to the outer world – nothing less than an unnatural torture.
Try to keep this vivid example in mind when arranging the environment for your introverted child. Because their inner world is so rich, outwardly speaking, less is definitely more.
Naturally your introverted child loves and needs mom, dad, grandparents and other siblings very much but the idea is to minimize other stimulants so that your child can enjoy personal space and feel good about territorial issues as s/he begins to sort things through in the outer world.
Here are some guidelines for toddler introverts:
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