5-Year-old Introvert Daughter, Doesn't Talk Feelings!

Updated on June 22, 2012
N.G. asks from Arlington, TX
15 answers

My beautiful 5-year-old daughter hates talking about her feelings. She has a searing temper, but other than that, she doesn't show her emotions much, or talk about them. My 8-year-old daughter and I are open books. We could talk about our feelings all day long. My husband has grown to get used to talking about his (though he is still quite the introvert, and talking about his feelings does not come naturally). My 5-year-old will tell me, "I don't like talking about my feelings," or "Can we be quiet now?" LOL! Very frustrating! My worry about this is that she will "stuff" her feelings and not find a way to vent. I can't imagine being like this, and neither can my 8-year-old. She also worries about her sister never talking about things. However, I realize that just because there are people not like me in that way, doesn't mean that they are less functional emotionally. But isn't it quite universal that we all need a 'vent' for our feelings & experiences? I guess my question is, should I be worrying about this? Is there a different way to "reach" introverted children? I want to reach her where SHE is, rather than pressuring her to be someone she isn't. Any ideas?

ETA: BTW, she is involved in Taekwondo, and team sports, I figured it would help her focus her energy on something like that, especially the Taekwondo, which she does love, and it does help for sure. But I just wish I could reach her more on an interpersonal level. Is it possible?

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So What Happened?

It would be great if some of you would actually read questions before responding to them. I did NOT say I wanted to change my daughter. I DID say I wanted to reach her where SHE is. HUGE difference.

Also, I never said that all introverts act this way and that all emotionally reserved individuals are introverted. MY daughter IS introverted, AND emotionally reserved. If we all spoke to every specific situation, each question would be a novel.

I also said that I don't pressure her, nor do I want to pressure her. I said that "We could talk about our feelings all day long." I never said that we did. We don't walk around with a pad & pen asking everyone how they feel all the time. That's just silly. Jeez, folks...

I appreciate those of you who actually answered my question!

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answers from Washington DC on

the first thing you need to do is REALLY accept her the way she is. She doesn't have the same NEED to express everything she feels the way you do.

Let her know that she can talk to you about anything at any time and then LEAVE IT ALONE. She's got outlets for her frustrations and as long as she knows you're there for her she'll be fine.

I never felt the need to express everything I was feeling when I was a kid either. It was hard for my mom to understand too cause she was a venter. I just deal with the situation and move on. It works for me.

good luck.

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Dallas on

If she doesn't want to talk about her feelings, you can help her release them via other methods such as drawing, writing or making faces for how she feels. She may not have the words for how she's feeling, but she may have the picture in her head. My daughter has also learned that red can mean anger, yellow is happy, etc and sometimes will use the colors to draw abstractly.

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answers from San Francisco on

My daughter is 16 and she is STILL this way, very emotionally reserved. I guess it's just who she is. It does make me sad, I admit, especially since I'm so close to my son and younger daughter. But her father is the same way so I guess she just takes after him.
She does tend to let down her guard and open up more when we spend one on one time together though. Maybe your daughter will do the same.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I'm very much an introvert. So is my son. And I can say with confidence: Your daughter is fine. In fact, she sounds like she's better than fine. She's in touch with who she is emotionally, and she's confident and articulate enough to express that.

Please, please, please, *please* do not pressure her to express her emotions. Instead, just let her be the expert on herself. As in, "If you don't want to talk about your feelings, that's fine. Just let us know what you DO want to do when you're feeling bad." She might need some time to think, and the answer may change many times as she grows up, but there's nothing in the world wrong with her way of being in the world, and she needs her mom to respect it.

You should probably also ask your husband: He sounds like your resident expert on what it's like to be an introvert.

I also want to say: I personally am very picky about language, and I've always tried to use my words precisely. And, my whole life long, I've been deeply uncomfortable with "psych speech" -- with the categorical labeling of emotions. If I choose to talk about my emotions at all, I'll speak metaphorically, or I'll engage in storytelling rather than labeling -- just because if feels "true." This is an eminently healthy and unproblematic approach to the world. Please give it the respect it deserves.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Syracuse on

She's 5, just let her be who she is. If someone asked me to "talk to them about my feelings" with that wording, I would gag...sorry. I also wouldn't want to feel pushed into it. Just let the conversation open up naturally rather than trying to force it, she'll open up much more that way.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

BAck off and let her be who she is. There's something to be said for the person who doens't feel the need to spill their guts. It's not how I'm built - but there is nothing wrong with her. I also believe that there are times when the constant discussion of feelings and emotions can actually be a bad thing. Some people function better in life by not pulling out painful stuff and turning them over & over in discussion. Some peopel need to do so. God made us all al little differnetly. Sounds like you've got her in some good activities that help her channel her energies - so you've done a good thing for her mama. Now let her be. ;o)

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answers from Atlanta on

I hate having feelings, let alone talking about them. It sounds like being in your household ("we could talk feelings all day long") would be my own personal hell. ;-)

She's not a talker. So, do things with her. Go places. Hang out. Play games. That don't involve "I think" and "I feel" sentences. Some people express and feel love by spending quality time together.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

Maybe she just doesn't want to share. That is ok. Please don't make her feel different or weird or wrong, to not want to share with you.

I'd give her a nice journal and cool pen to write in it with. Maybe she can't write well yet, but she can draw. That can be very therapeutic if she is having any issues with something that bothers her. Maybe she just is generally easy going and happy and doesn't feel like she has anything "bad" enough to share?
I have a pretty positive minded, headstrong young lady for a daughter. She does struggle with talking to me (or anyone) when she is really upset or angry. Heck, so do I! She has had pads/journals and pens/pencils since she was small to write in. She mostly used them to make joke books, lol. But it isn't WRONG of her to not want to talk when she is upset. Some people really do mull things over in their mind for a long time before they are ready (if they ever then need) to share.
I STILL tend to mull things in my mind, and then only when it is REALLY something that is not something for me to deal with on my own, do I say anything later. Usually, it is a matter of me deciding if the problem is mine to solve or not. Is it MY issue? Or someone else's? It helps to be surrounded by mostly mentally healthy people and not having any abusive or manipulative relationships, where most folks in my life are generally pretty up front and honest and kind.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

She is how she is. Is it possible that she is reacting to others endlessly voicing every feeling at every moment in time? She could just be experiencing "noise clutter" and be sick of it. Maybe she needs peace and quiet to form her thoughts, and it's not happening when you are asking her to voice her inner thoughts. Just because she doesn't talk about feelings doesn't mean she doesn't have them. No, not everyone vents the way you think - although maybe her temper is her way of blowing when things really build up. She's 5. Leave her be and let her develop.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on


She's 5. She's STILL learning about the words to place with those feelings.

At 5 she should have a pretty good vocabulary - however - if she does not and still has trouble expressing her feelings and it turns into rage - i would talk to my pediatrician and find out what we can do to help her verbalize her frustration instead of using temper or force. it might mean she needs to talk to a counselor who specializes in helping children come out of their shell and use the words they need to express themselves instead of anger.

TKD should be helping her control her temper as well. Which is a good thing.

As to whether you will be able to "reach" her? I don't know. The more or harder you try - the more she might close up to you. You know how kids are. The more YOU want something for them (talking) or you DO NOT want something (like a boyfriend) the more they will do the opposite of what you want....I know it's hard.

I would keep talking. Maybe one day she will surprise you and start a conversation!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

I hope i'm not misplacing your question with my own situation.

My 7 yo is a neuro typical child, but she is introverted and doesn't not like to cuddle unless i'ts on her terms, she prefers to attack and jump to hug than to walk over and put her arms around me. she pulls back if i try to hug her when she's in the middle of something -so i have to be very "aware" of her before i hug.

I worked in a preschool so i am very nurturing, and when she was little always talked to her about her emotions, if her brother took her cookie i would model for her " oh james took your cookie, i bet that made you mad, when you get mad you want to yell, but you can also breath and ask for a new cookie, I woudl give you one if you ask, then you can be happy and James can be happy. blah blah blah not the best example but you get the idea.

There have been about 5 times today alone that she has made a comment, that i think was just her being curious and asking a question, Why are YOU taking out the bread ??(from the freezer-we keep a loaf of italian in there for spaghetti dinners)
But instead it came out sounding very Accusatory like i was breaking a law by taking THE BREAD out of the freezer.
I worry alot because speaking that way at school or out in public could get her lil butt kicked if she used the wrong tone with the wrong person. I'm kind of joking but it will really interfere with her social interactions, if she can't figure it out.
But on the other hand, her teachers or coaches etc have never said anything, lol i'm not sure she says much around them anyway.

To get back to your question-- I don't know how to reach my DD either. I try playing board games with her when she is board but she will say no and wait until i get involved in a phone call or typing a message like this and then will be waving the game in my face. sooo annoying.

so my sympathy. i'm just hoping my DD connects more with her aunt and grandma than she does with me.

something the teacher in me knows but has trouble with because she doesn't like listening to mommy, is role playing with dolls or puppets. She might not say to you that she feel sad that big sis is at camp this week, but maybe her doll could tell you she feels lonely.

in this example my son has been away this week and instead of dd saying she is sad or moping around like someone else might expect a kid to do. She has been very easily frustrated, like the dog stepped on her foot and it was the end of the world and not just something she would shrug at like normally. but i think because she has been sad and lonely and missing brother it "came out" duringthe incident with the dog.

I checked back with your answers and haven't heard much that would help me either I might askthis again i a few days and see if wording it differently would help. I think a lot of introvs are jumping on you like you want to change her, my take was you wanted to reach her.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

Different strokes for different folks. That is who she is. She is not you or your other daughter. Accept her for the person she is. You cannot change

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Nope, you shouldn't be worrying about this. If she wants to go through life not talking about her feelings, she will be fine.

As you said, don't pressure her to be someone she isn't. It won't work anyway.

p.s. - If you feel like you need to reach her where she is, just ask her if she is feeling like ______. She will choose to respond or not.



answers from Tyler on

Honestly, I'm an introvert and reading your question just made me tired. If your daughter has asked if you all can be quiet now, then I would agree that she is a true introvert. If you want to reach out to her and try to connect on a more emotional level, then I think you need to reach out to her quietly. Ask her if she wants to cuddle with you and watch a movie - or read, or sit quietly and feed birds. Something quiet and calming. I'm an introvert and my kids are serious extroverts. But, they KNOW that I NEED my quiet time and they respect and give me that. It's not a matter of "she can't" be more open and loud, but honestly, being like that is VERY tiring. It's work. I work to be an extrovert at work and when I am at home, I would very much like it to be quiet and calm. If your daughter is in daycare (or surrounded all day by an extroverted mom and sister), then she truly needs some quiet time.

Good luck!



answers from Charlotte on

N., have you considered taking her to a play therapist? Sometimes that can help a great deal.

Not all introverts are how you describe your daughter. It's simplistic to just assign her to that category. I really think that now is a good time to help her with this. It can make a big difference in her relationships with other people in the future. She is little at 5, but she can be taught to respond in different ways. A play therapist can help you navigate it.

Best to you both!

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