Any parent of a child who tends to be introverted have either asked their own child, or had friends of theirs ask their child, “Why are you SO quiet?” Quiet children often are targeted as weak.
Introverts cannot be defined in any one way, but they tend to prefer alone time – or one on one time – versus group time. They would rather a book or watch a movie than go to a party. They are more private and can seem aloof or withdrawn. They may express less emotion and seem less engaged because they are much better listeners than talkers.
Being an introvert is about having a very rich Inner Life.
If you are quiet, people may even tend to assume you are odd, especially in American culture that values those who are more extroverted, louder, flashier, or pushy. In stark contrast, in other cultures – including Asian cultures – quietness is considered much more the norm.
Whatever culture you are raising your child within, if you have a child who is quieter than the average child of that culture – and spends more time on their own versus with friends or groups – it can be highly frustrating to parent introverts because they can be exceedingly quiet and private.
We as parents feel that our child should be OUT THERE, getting involved, joining group activities. The more extroverted and/or competitive a parent you are, the more raising an introvert can be scary. Introverts make extroverts feel uncomfortable, but introverts can usually handle extroverts better.
As an introvert myself, I have a special sensitivity to parents who feel overwhelmed by the task of raising an introverted child because it is so hard to tell how hard that parent should push that child to be social so they grow up to be well adjusted. How do you teach an introvert to have enough social grease that they can be fluid enough to navigate the grittiness of life?
One of the best references I have come upon is a book called “Quiet Power: the Secret Strengths of Introverts” by Susan Cain. This book is based on the original book entitled “Quiet,” which went on to be adapted into 40 languages, and Cain did a TED talk that smashed records for how popular it is.
TED Talk (which has 6.5 Million hits so far): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0KYU2j0TM4
I highly recommend this book to any parent or adolescent who wants to learn about the under-valued personal assets that introverts have, and how these can be used to reach their personal potential. Their TRUE POTENTIAL.
Great example sections in this book to whet your appetite:
–The Quiet Athlete
–Changing the World the Quiet Way
The overall message for kids, which I love, is that a quiet temperament is a hidden superpower, and that it is okay to avoid things like small talk.
Penetrating truths are highlighted such as the reality that many great ideas spring from reflection and solitude.
So many quiet kids I work with are not only gifted intellectually, but will be the leaders we need the most in an increasingly complex world that demands a level of creativity that springs not from the desire to have the fastest answer, but the desire to do the deepest thinking. It is the unique depth of the introvert that this book plumbs.
I hope all of you parents who have a more introverted child are willing to go to these depths to understand your quieter child, because there are real treasures down there, but you have to be willing to take time to find them. And more importantly, make sure your child finds them. Their future may depend on this.