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Introverted children are often misunderstood, even by their parents, who worry about them. Engaged by their interior world, they’re often regarded as aloof. Easily overwhelmed by too much stimulation, they can be seen as unmotivated. Content with just one or two close friends, they may be perceived as unpopular. Parents fret that they are unhappy and maladjusted. But the truth is quite different: Introverted children are creative problem solvers. Introverted children love to learn. Introverted children have a ...
Introverted children are often misunderstood, even by their parents, who worry about them. Engaged by their interior world, they’re often regarded as aloof. Easily overwhelmed by too much stimulation, they can be seen as unmotivated. Content with just one or two close friends, they may be perceived as unpopular. Parents fret that they are unhappy and maladjusted. But the truth is quite different: Introverted children are creative problem solvers. Introverted children love to learn. Introverted children have a high EQ (emotional IQ) and are in touch with their feelings. They take time to stop and smell the roses, and they enjoy their own company. They are dependable, persistent, flexible, and lack vanity.
How can parents help their introverted children discover and cultivate these wonderful gifts? Help is here. Written by Dr. Marti Olsen Laney, author of The Introvert Advantage with 74,000 copies in print, The Hidden Gifts of the Introverted Child fully explains introversion as a hardwired temperament, not a disability, and tells just what parents need to do to help their child become the person he or she is meant to be—and succeed in an extroverted world. Beginning with a 30-question quiz that places a child on the introvert/extrovert continuum, The Hidden Gifts shows parents how to foster a climate that allows introverted kids to discover their inner strengths; schedule ways for a very young innie to recharge those batteries and teach an older child to do it for him- or herself; create a harmonious household with siblings, and parents, of different temperaments; help innies find success at school, sports, parties, and other group activities.
Chapter One: Was an Introverted Child Dropped Down Your Chimney—What Introversion is, and What it Isn't
Chapter Two: Innies and Outies are Hardwired—Brain Physiology Creates Introverted and Extroverted Temperaments
Chapter Three: Introverts' Advantages in an Extroverted World—Learn to Highlight Your Child's Hidden Gifts
Chapter Four: Building Emotional Resilience—Establishing Strong Bonds with Your Child Will Provide Him a Secure Foundation
Chapter Five: The Care and Feeding of Innies —Predictable Routines Energize Innies So They Can Flourish
Chapter Six: Play, Conversation, and the Art of Relaxation—Encourage Daily Chats, Creative Play, Decision-Making Steps, and Stress-Busting Skills
Chapter Seven: The Family Temperament Tango—Increase Family Harmony by Validating and Appreciating Each Member's Footwork
Chapter Eight: Improving Sibling Relationships—Encourage Understanding, Establish Boundaries, and Dampen Rivalry
Chapter Nine: Extending the Family Tree—Cultivate Close Relationships with Grandparents, Other Family Members, Friends, and Caregivers
Chapter Ten: Innies in the Classroom—When You Know How Innies Learn Best, You Can Help Them Navigae the School Years
Chapter Eleven: Support Your Introvert at School and on the Playing Field—Lend a Helping Hand with Teachers, Studying, Homework, Preparing for College, and the Sports Scene
Chapter Twelve: Innie Social Savvy—What Friendship Means to Innies and What to Expect as They Travel Through Childhood
Chapter Thirteen: Encouraging Your Introvert to Flex His Social Muscles—Practice Helps Strengthen Poise and Confidence, Even in Sticky Situations
Chapter Fourteen: Thorny Social Patches—Help Your Innie Manage Conflict, Bullies, and Other Challenges
The Introverted Child: Marching to a More Hesitant Drummer
Let me introduce you to a child who shares many characteristics with the introverted children I have met and worked with. Even at a very young age, she was easily drained by activities, such as birthday parties, that energize many children. A social visit would hardly be underway before he’d start tugging at her mother’s sleeve, urging her to take her home. At preschool, she liked to watch other children play, but it took a while before she decided to join in. In photographs, she looks slightly dazed, or even as if she’s about to cry or hide behind a nearby door or shrub.
School meant leaving her comfortable home and entering what seemed like a vast, deafening space filled with apprehension and confusion: a veritable three-ring circus of a classroom. She could hardly hear the teacher—or even think. She knew the times tables at home, but when asked to recite them before the group, the numbers flew right out of her head. She hated large groups of all kinds. She dreaded being called on. By second grade, she devised a technique to reduce classroom anxiety. When the teacher scanned the room for a student to answer her question, the girl would execute the “drop and cover”: This involved “accidentally” dropping a pencil and then diving under her desk to hunt for the elusive yellow No. 2. As soon as one of her quick-thinking classmates furnished the answer, she would miraculously find the pencil and sit upright again.
Though quiet at school, at home she could talk her mother’s ear off. She wondered why she could sometimes chat away like a magpie and then other times find absolutely nothing to say. She felt like Ariel in the animated Disney film The Little Mermaid, after Ursula the sea witch stole her voice.
How do I know so much about this little girl? Because I’m describing my childhood self.
Like most introverted children, I was very much in tune with my own internal rhythms but often fatigued and overwhelmed by interacting with the larger social world. The way I experienced the world led me to several conclusions about myself. Because I was tentative about joining in games, I concluded that I was an oddball. Because, even when I knew the material, I couldn’t trust myself to retrieve answers on the spot, I concluded that something was wrong with my memory or that I was not very smart. Because I was so quiet around others, I concluded that I had little to offer.
Many children who tend toward introversion draw similar conclusions about themselves. And this is where I want to help. I know from my own experience and from my twenty-plus years of clinical practice that an introverted child does not have anything wrong with her intelligence or memory. She need not be relegated to the social and academic sidelines. Indeed, she has a great deal to offer. But introverted children do need support from their parents and others to help them blossom. Face it: We live in a fast-paced, in-your-face, sound-bite world that’s geared toward extroverts. Yet, by understanding the nature of introversion, parents, teachers, and family members can help introverted children take full advantage of their considerable brainpower and other personal strengths.
Back to my childhood for a moment. Despite my less-than-spellbinding student persona, a strange but wonderful thing happened: Many teachers befriended me. We had conversations about current events, classroom dynamics, and topics we were studying in class. I asked them questions about their life experiences and listened to what they had to say. One teacher took me to see West Side Story. Another introduced me to opera; I was deeply touched when he gave me my first opera record—a copy of Aida. Looking back, I suspect that these teachers were introverts who had recognized one of their own species. But more important was the conclusion I drew from these affirming relationships: that the world held lots of exciting possibilities when I met people one-on-one.
This capacity for depth, self-awareness, and close relationships with others is the flipside of the introvert’s way. An introvert has the ability to focus. The propensity to listen. The inclination to get to know people well. Those times in my childhood when I felt forced to play by an extrovert’s rules, I found myself lacking. But under circumstances where I could accept those aspects of myself on my own terms, I thrived. For parents, adjusting a child’s environment from one to the other is just a small shift. But for the child, it can mean the difference between struggling to find a voice and accepting, even reveling, in who he is.
Supporting Your Innie
Many readers of my first book, The Introvert Advantage, have told me that it resonated deeply with them. Often they’ve said,“ I wish this information had been available to me when I was a child. It would have saved me years of thinking that something was wrong with me.” It frustrates and pains me to hear so many stories about how misunderstood and overlooked most introverted people felt when they were growing up. The adult introverts I talk to wish that their families, teachers, counselors, and clergy had understood their introverted nature and been able to help them. The alienation and loneliness they felt is tragic because it was unnecessary.
Caring parents of introverted children continually ask me how they can support their “innie” child’s growth. The desire is there; those in a position to help simply don’t know what these children need or how they can provide it. I also hear from introverted parents about how they struggle with parenting extroverted children. My goal is to close the gap between innies and “outies,” or extroverts, and to teach the language of introverts to parents and other caretakers who need to speak it. I watch people’s reactions to my introverted grandchildren, and I hear from introverted children and their parents in my psychotherapy practice. And I certainly remember my own struggles as an introverted child trying to find my way.
The number-one concern I hear from parents and other adults working with introverted children is, “Will they succeed in the extroverted world as adults if they stay as they are? Shouldn’t they be pushed to be more extroverted?” And my answer is a loud—loud, at least, for an introvert—and resounding NO. Trying to impose a new personality onto an introvert will only lower his self-esteem, increase his guilt and shame about who he is, and perhaps add crippling shyness to his introverted temperament. Introverted children really are small wonders. Accept them as they are. By supporting their natural resources you will allow their gifts to grow. Being an introvert and being self-assured are not mutually exclusive. Confident introverted children will forge adult lives of meaning, value, and creativity.
Often, however, innies are late bloomers. This is because the brain functions that govern their mental orientation are the latest to mature. (Don’t worry—I explain all of this in Chapter 2.) These“ introverted brains” are hardwired to support careers in the arts and professions that require years of training. Introverts predominate in fields such as science, architecture, education, computer science, solo sports, psychology, the visual, literary, and dramatic arts, and—believe it or not—the military. This is due to their excellent ability to focus and their willingness to explore topics in depth. Contrary to common assumptions, introverts are also CEOs, salespeople, actors, television hosts, celebrities, famous athletes, and politicians. Introverts are achievers. But they would not have to contend with so many painful or confused childhood years if more adults could help them identify their strengths and encourage them to cherish these abilities. Everyone benefits when introverts get the help they need in order to grow into their gifts. It makes the world a richer place.
How I Researched This Book
After my first book was published, I met and talked to introverts from all over the United States and Canada. I also received thousands of e-mails from introverts throughout the world, telling me their thoughts. I have also interviewed parents, teachers, and, most important, introverted children about their unique experiences.
Meanwhile, I pored over the latest academic studies. Researchers have found that of all the personality traits studied, where someone stands on the introvert/extrovert continuum is the most predictable trait over time. The reliability of this personality dimension raised the question: What are the physiological underpinnings of introversion and extroversion? This launched literally thousands of research experiments attempting to determine the underlying processes that make someone an introvert or an extrovert. Once, all we had were theories and personality tests like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) as a means of identifying temperament. Now we have precise scientific tools such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET) scans, data from brain-damaged stroke patients, and long-term twin studies to help us understand, probe, and map the inner workings of the brain and body.
Studies that shed light on the nature and origins of introversion are fascinating to me. They demonstrate that there are physiological reasons why introverts are the way they are and confirm my view that attempting to change an innie into an outie is not merely damaging but futile. Many innies feel ashamed that types of interactions that others find so easy are challenging for them. The scientific basis for introversion can assure introverted children and their parents that there is nothing wrong with them and that their difficulties are not for lack of skill or trying.
Most of the tens of housands of physiological and psychological studies don’t reach the general public (unless of course they are sensational enough to catch the eye of the media). I have done my best to include findings relevant to introverts in numerous fields, including physiology, anatomy, neuroscience, education, stress reduction, personality, creativity, early childhood development, psychoanalysis, genetics, cognitive science, evolutionary psychology, addiction, and sociology. I have also interviewed parents, teachers, and introverted children themselves about their experiences.
Although each introverted child is unique, they do have many common characteristics. Introverted children have rich inner lives,
and understanding them is like embarking on an incredible journey. It is not difficult to learn to speak “innie,” and the rewards are great. Your experience as a parent will be enriched as your child develops strengths, concludes for herself that it is better than okay to be an innie, and learns to flourish in the extroverted world.
The most common pitfalls for introverted children are getting lost in their interior world and being overlooked by the outside world. When parents make it a point to talk to and truly listen to their innie children, those children learn to move with ease between their inner thoughts and the social world. If innie children grow up feeling accepted and comfortable in their family interactions, they will believe in themselves and have solid self-esteem. They will be able to move easily between their lush inner realm and the exterior world. They will know how to keep their “energy tanks” full and how to manage the stimulation of their surroundings. Read on to find out why introverted children behave as they do and how you can help them reach their potential.
Posted August 21, 2011
A FB friend posted the Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World by the same author, but it is not available in Nook so I got this one instead.
I am an introvert (innie) and reading this book makes me understand myself and others including the outies more. I hope that teachers, parents and anybody who look after kids will have access to this book. It makes us realize that not everybody can fit into a mold.
Our innie and outie temperaments are hardwired into our system and nobody can change one into the other. But we can learn to understand the why and how to deal with each other. The first few chapters explain the different chemical pathways and physiology that make up both innie and outie. The rest will help you understand and deal with both types of temperaments.
An innie will learn how to develop their extroverting muscle while an outie will learn to take a breather and slow down. Innies are not necessarily shy. But their energy drains in loud, crowded environments. While outies are charge up when put in the same situation. Innies can teach outies to calm down and smell the flowers. While an outie can help an innie to get out there.
Innies need downtime to get recharged. While outies (extroverts) thrive in this zoom -zoom fast pace world. Although there are lots of innies who have achieved high positions, they refuse to be on the spotlight. While outies need and want the spotlight. They get energized by being out there, talking and doing. Innies can freeze when put on the spot. Sometimes innies are diagnose to have ADD because they don't show interest. While outies are sometimes diagnose to have ADHD because of their need to be constantly moving and talking. An outie will be bored and edgy in a quiet room. While an innie will be completely satisfied and even be energize in a calm atmosphere. An innie can have meltdowns if you don't give them a chance to recharge.
Outie parents/grandparents/teachers/caregivers, etc. will learn how to accept and help an innie child flourish. While innie parents/grandparents/teachers/caregivers, etc. will learn how to cope with a outie child's constant chatter and need to be moving and be out there.
Great book for anybody who wants to understand both temperaments.
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Posted July 26, 2012
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At the time of this writing, I am in my upper twenties, I have no children and I am not married. I also go to a four year university. I read this book because I consider myself an extreme introvert and because of the lack of data about introverts that exists. Compared to Marti Laney's first book,"Introvert Advantage," the first two chapters have more and updated research regarding introverted physiology which I found helpful. Just like her previous book, my favorite portion of her books is in dealing with and explaining the biological underpinnings she describes about this temperament along with basic pictures of the brain. I found this book to be beneficial because while I was reading it I reflected on my childhood and compared and contrasted the characteristics of introverted children and what I did (to the best of my memories ability). The chapters dealing with children in school, while only describing grade school for the most part, was, I feel, beneficial for me as a college student and I appreciate her placing studying tips within the book for introverts and I will try to utilize them. The innie and outie references get a bit tiring and I hope that if she decides to write more about introversion in the future, she will use the terms introvert and exrovert more often. This takes the childishness out of her books. If you come across this book, just because the title implies that the book is written about introverted children, does not mean adults cannot benefit from the data within this book, since, I believe, as well as the author, that our temperaments do not change. There were a few errors throughout the book but it did not bother me too much and you can still comprehend the few errors throughout.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 15, 2009
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