How to help your quiet child be more open
January 8, 2024
In Episode 91, Kyle and Sara, LPC’s discuss the joys and the struggles of having a quiet kid. Quiet kids can make a lot of things easier in a family but it can be really challenging for them later on in life. It is important for parents to help these kids know what they want and help them communicate how they feel. If they don’t learn this skill they are more likely to give into peer pressure and also be in codependent relationships.
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Episode 91 Transcript:
As a parent, I believe we all want to deeply connect with our kids. We want to know the day-to-day life stuff, but we also want to know their hearts. And sometimes it can be very challenging when you have a quiet or introverted kid, because sometimes you never really know if you really know what's going on in there. In today's episode, Sarah and I discuss the challenges of having a quiet, introverted kid. You know, ways it can be very difficult to really know what's happening in their inner world. And we also give you some real practical ways today, right after this episode, ways you can open up that door to their heart, ways you can really feel like you reach them and connect with them.
Welcome to the Art of Raising Humans. Hello, and welcome to episode 91 of the Art of Raising Humans. I'm Kyle.
And I'm Sarah. And today we want to talk about those quiet kids, you know, the ones that you might have or run into that just don't seem to say much. And it can be kind of frustrating when they don't open up and talk, right? Yeah, I just think it's funny you say it's frustrating, depending on your personality. That's true.
It could be frustrating for you. That's true. And you know what, Sarah, this should be dropping right near the beginning of the new year. So we really want to talk about some new things we're doing. We mentioned them in the last podcast, but wanted to point your direction towards our Facebook group. It's just going to be the Art of Raising Humans group on Facebook.
We'd love for you to jump on and join us. And there we are going to be doing a lot of content, the content, a lot of live stuff, a lot of trying to create a community where people can support each other. I know when we first started this, Sarah, we really didn't know anybody else doing this. Right? Yeah. We had conversations.
Is there any anyone else out there? I know. I know. We know. Yeah, we talked to some different people, experts in the field, but didn't really have any other families doing it, you know? And it's so nice when you're journeying as parents to have other people to sort of hash things out with and be on a similar journey. Yeah. And so we promise to be doing several different live events consistently on there to talk about the different topics, delve in deeper into the Facebook topics, but also answering questions that people are wondering about.
So love to point your direction that way. Also want you to go to our website, theartofraisinghumans.com, and there you can get an eight-part video series for free about moving away from parenting with fear and shame, you know, as much as we can to equip you. You don't need to use those tools at all in when you're parenting kids because they're actually very harmful to when you're raising the kind of humans you want, it kind of undermines the goals you have. So we'd love for you to go there. And those videos will give you a great jumpstart if you're curious about what parenting this way looks like. So we'd love to have you join us. So let's jump into the topics there. So this is one you know a lot about, OK?
There's one thing I was never accused of, was being a quiet kid. I had a lot to say, and I typically said it. Yep. If you know us, you do. We're that couple where, I don't know, 70% is you talking, 30% is me maybe.
We loved it. We would go to those marriage conferences, and they would talk about how many words women say every day, and men don't talk that much, and we'd be like, they don't know what they're doing. The men go in their cave or whatever. That's right. We're like, I don't think we fit this. No. Yeah. They're like talking about how at the end of the night, the wife has so many words she's got to say, and she's talking, and it's hard to go to sleep, and I'm like, oh no, that's us.
I'm the one that won't shut up. So yeah.
But definitely, I was thinking of this topic, and I thought you'd be very helpful on this because I know as we're helping families, there is some frustration at times about this, especially as they grow up into the teenage years because it seems like when the kids are young and the kids are quiet, it's kind of applauded. In some sense, they're kind of like, that kid's typically seen as easy, doesn't put up a big fight. Good. Yeah. The kid doesn't get in trouble at school because the kid's just quiet and doesn't say much, and it only becomes problematic later on in the teenage years. So what's some reasons why kids tend to go that direction, like tend to be more quiet? Okay. Wow. Let me think of my list.
I'd say, obviously, some personalities are just more outgoing than others. Yes. That's true. Okay. So I'm just going to put that out there.
We all know that. Yes. Yes. But going a little deeper than that, some kids get early on that it's just easier on mom and dad. Yeah. You know, they've got a lot going on, and so I'm just going to make this easy on them.
It's not always that conscious. If you ask your child, they may not realize that until they're much older, and they look back. But kids often, they don't want to hurt the relationship with their parents. They're not trying to do that, even though sometimes it may look like it. They're actually not trying to do that, and a lot of kids will feel kind of protective of their parents.
They're like, I'm just going to be easy. Yeah. I'm just going to keep everything inside. I don't want to rock the boat. Yep. Yeah. I can see all this other stuff they're dealing with, and so I'll just be quiet.
I'll just lay low. Yeah. Keep it easy for them. Yeah. Yeah. And then also I would say what I hear a lot from kids is many times they're praised for being quiet and having no big opinions, and we kind of alluded to that at the beginning. Yeah. But I mean, like literally really praised, or like, oh, that kid's so great. Yeah. I remember we shared this in another podcast, but how one time you had taken Ellie when she was a baby out of a conference thing, and so Ellie was a little baby, but when you came back into the conference, lots of people were praising Ellie for being a good baby and being quiet. So quiet.
Even though you had taken her out of the conference, she wasn't even there, these people didn't know it. They just were like, but like praise the little baby for being quiet. Yeah. Like that's what defined a good baby, and how often we all think that, right? I know. Yep. We think, oh, this baby never cries.
They're so good. I know. Yes. Yeah. They're not disruptive. They don't have a loud scream, you know? Uh-huh. And I know even when I worked as a school counselor, lots of the teachers, they doted on those kids, you know? Yeah. The kids who were quiet and just did what they were asked and made no disruptions, you know? And I was like, when I see those kids sometimes in the practice as teenagers, now it's confusing because their parents now are wanting them to talk, and they're like, they're mad that they aren't sharing more.
We missed another one, though. Oh, yes. Sorry. Another reason kids are very quiet is because they think their parents will get upset. Yes. That their kids will be, that their parents will be mad, or their parents may say they want them to talk, but then they don't. The kid will know, yeah, but you don't actually want to hear what I'm going to say. Exactly. I don't actually like my opinion in this matter, you know, these ideas or these wants, if I express a want or a need or an opinion that's outside of, kids learn really early on what their parents really want to hear, what their parents are okay with and not okay with. And even if it's as simple as, I don't want to watch that movie, you know, it can be a really simple thing, but the parents are like, we just agreed upon this movie. I don't want anyone dissenting, I don't want any dissenting opinions because just keep it easy and just watch the movie, you know, and for them to have a different opinion or a different want or need, you know, I'm hungry, but I realize mom's really busy, so I'm not going to tell her I'm hungry because I can already see she's overloaded.
So there's certain kids that really tune into that. And so they're quiet because they're like, I don't, I don't think mom and dad can handle this right now. Yeah. Yeah. So I'll just keep it inside. I've even seen it, Sarah, where, where some kids have told me they wanted a friend to spend the night or something. And the parents have been saying, I don't know why they only invite anybody over. Right. And I'll say to the kid, why don't you invite anybody over? Well, one time I did invite somebody over and my parents seemed to be really annoyed by it. Yeah. So I just stopped asking. Yeah. And I'm like, that's interesting.
So it was just like one time. And when I talked to the parent, they're like, well, it was kind of a busy night that night, but it was like, we're glad he had the kid over, but it was just like, but the kid took it as that one negative thing made them never want to ever invite anybody over because it upset their parents. Right. I also think some of these kids are quiet because they don't think their parents are actually going to listen. You know, sometimes parents are on their phone while they're talking to them.
Parents are watching TV or whatever, they have so much going on. I mean, parents legitimately might have a whole lot going on. Some parents, I mean, we know the load, you might be taking care of a sick family member and you're working and you're getting all your kids to school and laundry and just all the things that being a parent is.
And so a kid could honestly, they're kind of right. You've got a lot going on. Yeah. Well, and some kids take that just like with my kid. The kid might take that personal and it's not meant to be, you know, it may three or four or five times the kid tried to talk and the parent didn't seem to respond to it or listen real well. The kid took it as mom and dad don't want to listen.
So what problems can come from this? So if we have a kid, if the listeners are like, oh, I have a kid like that, he heard that. What's some we saw how it can be seen as a positive in some ways, because they're not disrupting things. But what problems can come from this in a kid's life? Well, they get so good at it that they kind of just stop and think about it.
They're like, well, I'm not going to listen. I'm not going to listen. I'm not going to listen. I'm not going to listen. I'm not going to listen. I'm not going to listen. I'm not going to listen. They get so good at it that they kind of just stop even listening to themselves. They get so good at shoving down their wants, their needs, their feelings.
And they're so tuned to the external that they actually start to lose their own internal world. And some personalities are much more prone to this than others, but they kind of they lose sight of themselves. Yeah, yeah.
They get really good at that. Yeah. Yes. So the problem is they don't know really what they think or feel. They're not in touch with that. And I think sometimes even when they do maybe have some awareness of it, they don't know how to communicate it because they haven't really practiced that because it is a skill to communicate what is in your head or what you're feeling in your quote unquote heart and to be able to communicate that to other people is something you have to practice and you haven't done it. It can come out like really awkward or weird or so just it makes it where you're less likely to want to do it. Yeah. Or you have that quiet kid who suddenly has a blow up and then they're quiet again. That's sort of that gets real messy because it just is in there.
It's in there and they don't know what to do with it. And then it just explodes and then they shut it back down and it's real sloppy. Yeah. So I hear you saying the quiet kid may lose themselves in what's happening in their life. They don't really know how to talk about it or really form their own identity possibly because they're not really communicating to others about it. But then I also feel like they don't practice advocating and communicating their own needs. So like you mentioned that like they're hungry and they don't ask or they have things that they want in life and they just kind of suppress those. So the kids that I've worked with Sarah in session is a lot of it's just like, what do you want?
And they don't know. Yeah. I just like what they don't know what they want to do for a career. Yeah. Sometimes they don't even know where they want to eat. I know.
Like if you just say shoes. Yes. Get what shoes you want.
I don't I don't know. I don't care. Which one do you think I should get? Yeah. Because they're just so used to the extra and they haven't tuned into themselves. Well, and I think the dance that happens, I think any listener is listening. Now, the dance that happens is because they don't say it, it's easy to just choose it for them. Yeah. Or the sibling chooses. Yes. You know, you've got a lot of kids. And yes.
And this kid's always saying, I don't care. So the other kids like McDonald's, you know, you just go with it because you're like, oh, the other kid does. And the other kid says, I don't care. Whatever. Even as you're saying that, sir, I'm thinking about because our oldest is so talkative and our middle is less talkative. Even today, when he's 11 years old, the oldest sometimes will ask will ask the 11 year old a question and the 14 year old will answer for him. And I'll be like, I'm not talking to you.
I'm talking to him. But like, I remember that when they were young, how much she would do that for him. We would be at Chick-fil-A and we'd be in the playground and some kids would be loud. And you could see that Brennan was disrupted by all the loudness. And Abby would go like almost fight those kids and be like, stop being so loud. And so he learned at an early age because he naturally is less loud or less. Yeah. I'll just let her do it. I'll just let you know. And so just like you said, it turns into it may seem like a small thing, but not knowing where you want to eat or not knowing what you want to eat.
That is going to lead to bigger problems later on, possibly. Right. You want him to be able to stop and think and understand what he wants and to be able to. And some of those kids, it also it takes longer for them to tune back into that. And it's hard sometimes to have the patience to just sit with it.
You don't know. OK, we can sit.
We can wait. Go ahead and think about it. You know, I think what else is a problem? So I've noticed a lot of kids like this. They may be more easily taken advantage of, you know, peer peer kind of pushed around. Yes. Yeah. Bullied. A kid with a stronger personality will like will be drawn to that because it's like, oh, good.
You'll just go where I want to do what I want. It's like, hey, come on, let's go do this. And, you know, when they run out to the playground, let's go.
Let's go play soccer. Let's go on this.
And the other kids not even getting a moment to think, do I do I want to do that? But they just get in that flow. And so in every relationship in life, they learn to just go with whatever that person is taking.
You know where that where are you going? Who are you?
OK, I'll just attach to that. Yeah. Yeah. Well, even like I think as you're saying that the kid in that moment on the playground doesn't even ask themselves that question. No. Yeah. They don't even go, do I want to do that? They don't even like it's not even like they don't have time. They don't even they get into the habit of never asking themselves that question. So I think what's problematic about that is they they get they end up getting in relationships where they lose themselves in the relationship. You know, they might be more prone to get into a codependent relationship can lead down to. Yeah. They just never really learn how to have that identity themselves and their own wants and needs valued and and have the time to even come up with them.
Well, I'm Sarah. I've seen people come in their 30s or 40s who are still they've never been able to answer that question. What do I want to do? What is it? I want to do with my life because other people they've they've gladly given that, you know, not on purpose, but just it's the dance to other people to tell them, you know, and so that they that it's important for the quiet kid to be able like like I remember saying this like I know Ellie Ellie's really good at saying no, you know, so Ellie strongly knows what she wants. So for a while, I was intentionally we both were working on helping her say yes, you know to be more cooperative, you know, whereas like with Brennan his struggle was more saying no because he would so easily say permission. Yes. Well, like I'll give actually want that. I mean seriously for all the listeners you if you have a kid like this, you know, like if I were to say who will pick up the dog poop.
I mean Brandon would say I'll do it just go do it and and it almost almost nine times out of ten. If you ask him to do something, he'll just say yes to you know, and I actually want him to practice saying no to me, you know to say no. I actually don't want to do it because I want him to pause a second and make a decision. Does is he just doing it because he thinks he has to or that's like is or is he actually wanting to do this, you know? Yeah. Yeah, because they get in the habit of saying yes to everything and honestly, there's a lot of people in this world.
There's a lot of adults. We do praise kids for just saying yes. We do want the kids just to say yes. Yeah, and so when they get that praise and they feel like okay, I won't lose relationship with you. I'll just say yes, and then you won't get upset with me.
You won't turn your back on me. Yes. All I can avoid all these things if I just keep saying yes. Well, I think a lot of these kids also see all the disruption happens when the other siblings say no, you know when that that then that's when the arguments break out and all the yelling and stuff like that, right? If I just say yes, there's no argument, you know, so so I think in wrapping up the problems there. It's the kids and those kind of quiet kids their needs don't get met and they almost feel selfish ever asking for what they want or need, you know, they feel like they're being really selfish and they say I don't want to do that or I'd rather do this, you know, and so somewhat I want to do a whole separate podcast on this, but I want to teach those kids how to be self. I want them to fight for what they want and to know what it is and then and then fight for it. Yeah, and I think I think that and I think they have to realize that they'll still be loved even if they say something you don't like because I think sometimes you're just weighing that quiet kid or something. You're thinking I know you're not going to like what I am thinking or feeling. Yeah, and so I'm not going to risk it and so they need to be told over and over again. It's okay.
If I don't like it. Yeah, it's okay. I mean, I still love you. Yeah, they need to be allowed to have a different opinion a different idea different water need that inconveniences you. Yeah, and that even though it's an inconvenience to you, even though you don't like it you You love them and you want to know them. That's more important than you having it, you know being inconvenient to you that they feel that way or want that thing.
Well, let's move into that sir. So then what kind of parents who if any parents listening say I have a quiet kid like that a really kind of compliant kid who's really easy, you know, maybe when we've talked about he's he's the golden child. Yes. Oh, we've done that.
It gives us home to feed. the family.
Where do you want to go and they're like, oh, I don't care you say, okay, I'll wait for you to decide. Yeah, I would love to go where you want to go. Yeah, you've got to kind of go overboard depending on how quiet this kid is, but you need to make intentional effort to creating space for them to have opinions and wants and needs and then you've got to encourage that you guys say I love. Thank you. Thank you for sharing that because that matters to me what you want. It matters to me how you feel even if it's, you know, you've got to go overboard to let them know that they're not going to lose relationship with you. It doesn't always have to lead this big conflict, but if it does lead to a conflict, you still value that and you're not going to walk away.
I just want to take a moment to tell you about an exciting opportunity that we're doing in 2024. You know, the past decade Sarah and I have had the privilege and the joy of getting to coach so many parents and changing their the way they discipline at home moving away from fear-based approaches and over those years. We've got a lot of calls from fathers dads who are like man. I want to make the change too, but I'm really struggling with with the not yelling the anger. It's just man. It just the reactions are so hard to change.
And so in 2024, I thought it would be great. I really wanted to invite fathers who are wanting to change those dynamics to do some one-on-one coaching with me. So if you're interested in that or if you know a dad who you think would be interested in that love for you to reach out to me at Kyle Wester at parenting legacy.com. That's Kyle Wester parenting legacy.com and I'd love to set up a time to talk with you to see if you would be a good fit for the program. Okay. So if you're interested reach out have any questions reach out and look forward to talking with you soon. Well, it just so you listeners know a little trick to do the try that I did with Sarah when we were dating because the dance we had was I would say, hey, where do you want to go eat? And she'd say I don't know and I'd say perhaps I'm speaking a little from experience.
Let's go eat here and you go. That's great. Let's do it. I bet. Yeah, but where do you want to go? I'm fine with wherever you pick but I never even heard where you want to go eat. So like I discovered this early on in our dating and then into our marriage.
I wasn't learning anything about you. I was just like you were so agreeable to go wherever I said. So what I did and you could do this with your kids, especially young. I mean as young as you want to start with but I would say I'm gonna pick three places to go. I want you to rule out one and I'll rule out one and then we'll go to that third one, you know, so I would say I'm going to rule out this one. I let you start you pick you say one of the three you don't like I pick the other. So then that way I was easy for me to choose where I wanted but I wanted you to know that I cared about where you wanted to go as well.
And I remember even we talked about this and this is just giving insight and how kids feel. I remember you saying well you you were actually fine going wherever I picked and why would what if you picked a place and then I went there with you and I didn't like it.
Yes, then that would be a problem. I would rather eat somewhere. I would rather the other person be okay because I know I can handle not being okay.
And so I think kids that's what they realize. They're like, I don't know if you can handle not being okay, but I know I know I'm so used to stuffing my feelings and my wants and needs that I know I can do it, but I don't know if everyone else here can handle it. So you really have to watch your reactions because these kids are super sensitive to those upset. They're watching your facial expressions and your tone of voice and that that little bit of upset there. They're thinking I shouldn't I shouldn't have said anything. Yep. Yep. Well, it's so I think to that. I want to point out I'd love to hear your thoughts on these is when I'm working with kids who are pretty quiet is one.
I've got to give them space to talk. So it's going to take time. So I know when I ask them a question, it's the long game. I'm going to need I'm going to need to wait for a little bit of time and then they'll finally maybe say something right? I'll need to make sure in that same vein like asking open-ended questions.
Yes, because I found these kids are super good at giving one word. It's right and just like, you know, they don't really expound upon unless you give them that space and time another thing. They tend to do Sarah and I don't believe you you you don't do this that much but lots is they just get used to saying, I don't know. I don't know because they really might not well, that's what I'm saying.
I believe they don't yeah, I agree. Yeah, I believe they haven't had time to think about it and they just that becomes an acceptable answer. Yeah, I don't know and then we just tell them what what it is, right? We have to really they might be really one have no experience and really delving deep into some of this and being very indecisive. It's very stressful to make a decision. So you've got that weight and then they're looking to you to what do you want to hear? What do you want me to say?
They're watching you. Yeah, they're so out of practice with tuning into themselves. You have to give them lots of time to build that skill. Well, so something I also advise them to do if a kid keeps saying, I don't know. I just say hey instead of saying, I don't know just say give me a moment to think about it.
Yeah, and I'll wait. I'll wait for you to think about it and I have found eight times out of ten. Once the kid says that then the kid really thinks about it. If they just keep saying, I don't know typically they're just used to not thinking about it. You know, no one's been patient enough to give them the time to think about it.
So I want to let them know hey mom this time is about you. You learning about yourself and telling me what you want. I really want to hear it and none of it's going to upset me. I really just want you to speak your mind, right? And so then I find the kid then honestly, we'll sit there and sometimes after they're done.
They'll still say I still don't know and I just said, thank you. Thank you for taking the time to think about it. Okay, and then maybe I ask a different question, right?
Or I try to approach it a different way. So I think that's really important to think a lot of parents really struggle with the I don't know and it's kind of like the dance is you ask a question they resist it and they've learned if I just answer the question people might get upset at me. So I'm just going to deflect it, you know, okay. So another one I want to add to is ask them. I like when you're working together with a kid like this ask them how you can create moments where it's more likely that they will open up and talk to you, you know, so you described like getting away from all the other siblings or getting one-on-one that might be helpful, right purposely putting my phone away and not being distracted by and showing them. I'm intently listening to you right watching the kid might say your non-verbals really make it seem like you're frustrated or you're not listening, right?
So so maybe like or the questions you ask are really hard. I don't understand what you're actually wanting me to think about right? So there's all types of ways. I want the kid to even in that to advocate for themselves to go what kind of setting helps me best to be more open.
Yeah driving in the car somewhere. Yes, doing the dishes together. Yeah cooking together. They are doing some you want to take the pressure off. Don't sit them down and just look them right in the eyes and go so that's right. Yeah. Yeah, you don't want it to be an intimidating pressure. You kind of want to ease up and ask them what helps you because I'd really love to know you I'd really want to know your thoughts and feelings. Yeah. So what what kind of situations especially on the teenager?
Teenager, you know a little kid I would say play with them. Yes. Yeah, and then and then give them opportunity to talk but not under a spotlight where you're grilling them, you know, just baby steps a little bit and then as they're opening up and feeling comfortable just follow their lead. Yeah, and then sometimes it might look like you just especially as they get older or I guess younger too, but just noticing what time of day or what kind of setting you as a parent are able to connect best to help them open up. Right? So maybe in the morning is best.
Maybe in the evening is best. Maybe right after school isn't a good idea. Whatever just kind of feeling that out and seeing the pattern of when they tend to open up to other people, you know, because you will notice a lot of these quiet kids. They are tend to be more open with friends and they be more talkative there. So just even be curious about that, you know, noticing what is it that the friends are doing? Maybe they're not getting upset. Maybe they're not blowing up at them. Maybe they're there isn't a dance there where they feel like they're afraid. They're going to disrupt everything, you know, pick topics that are safe to I mean, depending on how your age is. But think about do my does my kid like talking about cars or hairstyles or what music start with something?
That's that's a kind of an easier topic for them. So they just get used to having that conversation with you. Yeah, you know before you dive into don't you don't dive into the deep heavy stuff right away, you know build to that point. That's so good. It's good. So I hope this conversation helps you expand the way you're seeing maybe that quiet kid in your family that I know it may initially seem like this is great.
Like they're just quiet. So it's like they're not disrupting but I know Sarah from your experience of being quiet and as you've grown up into adulthood that there's a lot of things that a quiet kid just isn't in touch with that.
We really want them. We really want to just they may and sometimes they are aware and it is buried in there and they're thinking I can't I can't let this out. I can't talk to you, you know what for whatever reason, you know, and you want to give them space to do that. Yeah, so I hope this gives you a lot of different tips and tricks and techniques on how to connect with that quiet kid and help open up that door so you can see their heart because I know that's what you're wanting to do. And of course, once again, we will be putting all types of stuff on Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, these kind of places. We'll be doing reels and other types of ways to help expand this conversation.
So please join us on any platform all the platforms jump on that Facebook group. We'd love to personally be able to discuss things with you on that group and yeah, we hope you're having a wonderful day and hope this really helps expand your relationship with that quiet kid in your family who's probably secretly wanting you to and so go pursue that this week and see if that opens up some doors.
Thank you for listening. We appreciate you. The Art of Raising Humans podcast should not be considered or used as counseling, but for educational purposes only.