I know many parents out there are nodding their heads. It’s a realization only a parent can have, holding their baby for the first time. It’s a love so primal that nothing in the world can come in between.
But is love enough to ensure your child’s happiness?
As a parent, you have the hardest but most rewarding job in the world. It is up to you to nurture the lights of the future so they can shine.
But what happens when love isn’t enough? What about when your child isn’t developing as the books say? Or maybe a teacher made an offhand remark about how they never see your child smiling or interacting with more than one or two friends.
If this has happened to you, please don’t panic. The likelihood is you have an introverted child.
Having an introverted child can be challenging if you don’t know what to expect or what it means to be an introvert. But to have a child with an INFJ personality can be heartbreaking, as they care deeply from an early age, and more often than not, they will always put the needs of others above their own.
I know, because I was one.
I wish I could’ve written this article to my parents when they realized I wasn’t like other children.
INFJs See the World Differently
“I know you were disappointed when you came home from parent-teacher conferences last night. I know they must’ve told you again that I wouldn’t amount to much, because I felt you hug me when you thought I was sleeping. I’m sorry I made you cry. I promise to try harder, I promise to make you proud.”
This sums up my parent’s bittersweet reality as they fought against those who I wouldn’t allow into my world.
By the time I was four, I could tell you about the the planets and point out the brightest constellations in the sky. At age five, I wanted to know exactly how babies ended up inside the body, and by seven, I had declared to a bus full of people that I would die happily if all the animals in the world would be saved, for I understood the power of sacrifice.
I was a sensitive soul that would cry if someone raised their voice, but I was never afraid to make a stand if I felt someone was being mistreated because they were different. I humbled grown men and embarrassed those that belittled others.
All that being said, I couldn’t read or write properly, and the concept of time was meaningless. I was at the bottom of my class.
My teachers were right — I was a perpetual daydreamer. But they were wrong to assume that meant my mind was vacant. It was rich and deeply vibrant with the possibilities tomorrow could bring. They just couldn’t climb the dizzy heights needed to reach me, for I was too busy creating a new world to think about times tables and long division.
My story isn’t unique. There’s a whole group of us out there.
We are the dreamers, the empaths, the adventurers of the future. We feel the world around us and consider the consequence of every action we take. We’re self-aware and use our intuition to guide us when we can’t see the path ahead. It can be exhausting trying to think above the noise, and if we do happen to get something wrong or cause harm to another unintentionally, it’s truly devastating to us.
We’re part of the INFJ tribe that make up only 1 percent of the world’s population. A rare Myers-Briggs personality type on the introvert spectrum. We are often confused for extroverts, as essentially we love people and feel deeply for those we care about, but we also need time alone.
(What’s your personality type? Take a free personality assessment.)
Tips for Raising an INFJ Child
In very young children, it’s difficult to tell their personality type until they have developed more. However, you may see the inklings of an INFJ child. If you have been given the incredible responsibility of an INFJ, here are some tips to help you understand and support your child better. Many of these tips will also apply to other sensitive, introverted personality types.
1. Show, don’t tell.
Your INFJ child will get bored easily and will find ways around you to explore the world. Putting them in front of an iPad or TV will not be enough to keep their curious mind happy for long.
From an early age, they will ask you plenty of questions about the world around them, but be warned, they are quite intuitive and will know if you’re lying. Try to be honest no matter how difficult the subject is — they can handle it. Stick to the facts and try not to be biased, as your child will want to make up their own mind.
2. Help your INFJ set boundaries.
There are no boundaries for the INFJ child. They are naturally inquisitive and will sometimes cross unseen boundaries in their quest to help and understand a situation.
They may appear much older, and people will naturally be drawn to them. It’s important from an early age that you teach them about boundaries to keep them safe, emotionally and physically. Steer them away from one-sided and toxic relationships.
3. Remember that super senses can be both a blessing and curse.
Most children will want to touch, smell, and taste everything as they grow. INFJ children are no different. But as they feel the world around them intensely, it means they get overwhelmed easily by situations that most children would shrug off. Crowds, loud noises, and birthday parties are particularly stressful, but any savvy parent can avert this. What isn’t easy to manage is school.
INFJ children are able to charm people and read social situations so they can adapt easily. Saying that, they will choose only a few friends with whom they will let into their world to join them on their adventures. If you want to encourage your child to broaden their social group, focus on introducing them to new subjects that interest them enough to engage with others who share their interests.
4. Give them space and time alone.
Your INFJ child will need time to process, think, and recharge. They probably won’t say that they need alone time, as they haven’t developed the mind tools to understand what that means. It will be up to you to manage their time accordingly.
5. Listen and engage.
As INFJ children grow, they become increasingly aware of people’s feelings and will sometimes hold back from voicing their thoughts in case they cause conflict — or worse, they hurt someone close.
Please try and create a safe space/time for them to talk and for you to listen without judgement. It’s vital for you to understand that your purpose here is to listen and offer guidance only if they ask. There could be occasions when your emotions will rise, but it’s important that you leave them outside the safe zone. Remember, they trust you above all others — do not violate this bond.
Also, teach them creative ways to let their feelings out. Give them a pencil and watch them etch their world in front of your eyes. Or a journal to record all the thoughts they can’t share with others.
6. Love your INFJ, even in the dark times.
We are the dreamers who see the world differently. We give freely without taking; we see possibilities in hopeless situations, beauty where there seems to be none. Our love is deep, pure, and endless as there isn’t a challenge we won’t overcome for those we love… and here lies the biggest challenge you will face.
As the parent of an INFJ child, you will have to watch helplessly as your child regularly gets knocked down by life only to get up again and again because they refuse to quit their vision. You will watch your child suffer immense heartbreak and will be privy to the darkest moods when your INFJ can not reach their perfect standard.
The only advice I can give is from my own parents… love them.
And that is the only advice that really matters, regardless of your child’s personality type.
You’ve been blessed to raise someone special. You won’t always have the answers, and sometimes you’ll get it wrong. That’s okay. Trust yourself and let your love show your INFJ how to change the world.