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Differences between shy and introverted children

To exercise a good job as parents, it is a priority to know our little ones in depth. Being aware of the differences between shy and introverted children will greatly help us to know what our child needs and how we can help him.

For years,  the meaning of shyness has been colloquially associated with very different realities . When we see a child alone, away from his peers, we assume he is a shy boy. However, many times this is not the case.

Shyness and introversion are often confused because the behaviors they cause are very similar. On the other hand, the internal emotional state of a shy child and an introvert is truly different.

What is shyness?

The timidity is the tendency to avoid social interactions because of embarrassment or fear that others evaluate me negatively. Shy children are uncomfortable and anxious when they interact with others.

These little ones have little confidence in themselves and, often, lack social skills. Therefore, when they relate to others, they tend to be very concerned about their own actions; They fear to make a fool of themselves.

Because of all this, shy children avoid being the center of attention, feel anxious to meet new people and find it hard to let go until they trust.

What is introversion?

Introversion, meanwhile, defines those quiet, reserved and introspective children . These little ones show little interest in people and new situations and tend to be distant with other children, unless they are close friends.

These children do not fear social interaction, are not afraid of being judged and can even have very good social skills . What happens is that they enjoy their own company, they feel more comfortable being alone. 

They can relate seamlessly with other children and enjoy that interaction. However, it is possible that after a while they feel overstimulated and wish to be alone, as it is their way of recharging energies.

Characteristics and way of being of introverted children

To find out if your child is introverted , you can look to see if he has these characteristics:

  • They are children who are usually calm and who enjoy relaxed activities that favor introspection and reflection.
  • Are not shy , nor are they not sociable.
  • Sometimes they may seem abrupt, unfriendly, unloving, and even hostile. This occurs because they move away from interactions, and sometimes avoid them, so it may be appropriate to encourage the development of social skills.
  • Sometimes they need to spend time alone.
  • They need to relate and have friends, but they carefully select their friends.
  • They usually avoid large social gatherings.
  • They are able to socialize, and do not usually feel fear of the opinion of others or develop anxiety in social situations . READ MORE ABOUT THE CHARACTERISTICS OF INTROVERTS

Differences between shy and introverted children

Both shyness and introversion make children tend to stay out of their peers. In both cases, they will avoid crowds and new people and situations . But each group will do it for their own reason.

  • Shy children fear being judged and introverts are not. The fear of being negatively evaluated by others is exclusive of shyness. Introverts feel neither fear nor anxiety when interacting.
  • A shy child does not relate to others out of shame ; an introvert for lack of desire. The former feels the desire to interact with other children but does not dare, while the latter simply prefers his own company.
  • Introverted children feel overstimulated by socializing; The shy don’t. When they spend a lot of time interacting with other people, introverts need to be alone again to recharge emotionally. Shy children do not feel this overload.


It is important to differentiate the continuous ‘introversion-extraversion’ from the continuous ‘shyness-decision’ . The first tells us if the person feels more energetic, comfortable and vital alone or in the company of others. The second defines whether or not the person feels anxiety when interacting.Therefore, a child can be shy and introverted at the same time. But it is also completely possible that he is shy but outgoing. Or that is introverted but determined . They are two independent categories.

How to help shy children and introverts?

Introversion is another feature of the personality that is not a problem. The introverted child is happy spending time alone and is totally respectable . You will have few friendships but these will be of quality and, in addition, you will have a very rich and curious inner world.

On the contrary, shyness does, in many cases, constitute a source of unhappiness for the child . Having to relate generates anxiety and prevents you from enjoying as many friendships as you would like.

To help you, it is advisable to show us as models of social behavior, that you can see how we interact and learn from us. It is also positive to provide the child with different social environments in which he can practice . But, above all, if shyness limits your life in an important way, the best resource will be to seek professional help .


  1. The Science of Quiet People: The Shy Guide to the Biology of Being Bashful. By Ruth Bjorklund . Publisher Capstone, 2019



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