Kids Aren't Necessarily Shy Because They're Quiet

by Michelle Downing November 15, 2017

little girl playing guitar

I hear it time and time again: "Oh, your daughter is so sweet and quiet. She just wants to play by herself. She’s really shy, huh?"

Don’t mistake being quiet for being shy. Just because my little one doesn’t feel the need to be the center of attention or shout from the rooftops doesn’t make her shy. She has no problem approaching other kids. She’s happy to share her toys and participate in games. but she’s also happy to sit quietly and read a book or put together a puzzle. She’s content watching an entire episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse or giggling to herself as she watches our dogs run around like the maniacs they are.

I’ve heard it a million times. When someone approaches a little kid and he doesn’t respond in the perfect way, it’s almost an involuntary response: “Oh, sorry, he’s just shy.”

But is he? Or does he just not want to talk to this strange lady at the supermarket? Is he really shy or does he not feel like explaining his cape and boots to the neighbors?

In a world full of boisterous children, constant over-sharing, and a mantra of the loudest succeeds, being quiet can be difficult for children. They can often get overlooked to volunteer in class. They may not always be the first picked for teams or allowed to act the fun speaking parts in the school plays.

However, there’s so much more for the quiet children. They often become the artists, the philosophers, the writers, and the dreamers. They are the ones who love to brainstorm and craft, and are content to let someone else lead the project. Who knows? All of their quiet solitary time could lead them to becoming brilliant scholars who are more than capable of leading the world.

However, oftentimes these kids don’t realize their true potential because they're told their whole lives that there's something wrong with being quiet. They'll be forced to learn public speaking and put on a stage. They're told that it’s important to be comfortable in front of a crowd. They won’t be embraced for being unique and true to themselves and, even worse, some people will assume that they're less developed or not as bright because they are quiet.

Everyone assumed Albert Einstein, easily one of the most intelligent people in history, was shy. He regularly rejected invitations to social gatherings and wanted nothing to do with random praise. In fact, he even said, “The only way to escape the personal corruptible effect of praise is to go on working.” Everyone pegged him as the “Shy Genius,” but he wasn’t shy. He just wanted to be left alone and allowed to study in peace.

So please, don’t diminish our quiet children and label them as shy. Don’t assume they aren’t capable of being loud. Some children just don’t want to be, and some of those quiet dreamers may be the next Albert Einstein. Chances are, they won’t want to be bothered by loud people then either.

Michelle Downing


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