Acitivities Where Introverted Children Can Win
by Nancy R. Fenn
Parents can be fooled into thinking there's something wrong with their child for being introverted, especially if they, themselves, are extroverts. Also many teachers, administrators and other relatives who are extroverts may not understand introverted children.
You see, introverts make up a small 30% of the population and yet their self image is defined by extroverts who think there is something wrong with them because they "don't' like people" or because they are "shy" or "withdrawn".
Let's come of age! Introversion is a legitimate personality type. You can find out more by visiting a Myers-Briggs website like this one: http://www.humanmetrics.com
There's nothing wrong with your child if he or she is introverted. Introverts give energy to others, so your child avoids extended social interaction not because s/he is anti-social but because s/he is exhausted by it. All those peppy looking extroverts who look so happy in the group are actually taking energy from introverts like your kid when they interact!
The more you understand about introversion as a legitimate personality type the more you can help your child develop a positive self image. You may also want to help your child discover how to "win" in a world set up by "others" with very different tastes and values.
Introverted children get no inherent value or personal reward for taking part in past times that are pushed on most kids. Joining the Pep Squad, taking ball room dancing lessons, joining the German Club and taking field trips to the aquarium are not likely to do anything for your introverted child except stress them out and make them feel like losers because they don't seem to be enjoying themselves when everyone else is!
It's so important to validate your child's feelings about these activities and help them understand that it's normal for introverts to more or less dread them!
The son of one of my clients is a bright, nice looking, musically talented introvert. He is 14 years old and his extremely extroverted mother worries because he doesn't have "any friends". She thinks he isn't "popular". She has pushed him into going to church dances. When he gets there, he cries. She has taken him to psychologists to find out "what's wrong" and she has gotten him drugged with prescriptions.
This is not productive! Instead of forcing a child to do something that goes so much against his nature he has to be drugged to do it, how much more healthy and supportive it would be to provide your child with the right to be just exactly who they are!
Here then are some activities, hobbies and pursuits at which introverted children excel and which they will enjoy. These activities are natural to introverts and are all at least as worthwhile as the Pep Club, maybe more so!
� Collecting (stamps, butterflies, coins)
� Writing (journals, poetry, letters)
� Pets and training pets
� Playing a musical instrument
� Penpals (especially if they're learning a foreign language)
� Working on props for school plays or other activities strictly behind the scenes
� Internet projects
� Internet games of educational value
� Sports which do not require a team or partner, such as long distance running, swimming or rollerblading
� Decorating their room
� Listening to music
� Independent travel
� Practice designing fashions or developing interests in art, architecture or history (I knew one teenage girl who loved to do grave rubbings and traveled to Europe to do this one summer)
� Maintaining the family photo album
� Volunteer work such as working with animals or reading to the deaf
� Supporting a child from a foreign country with donations, letters, photos, etc.
In my interviews with introverted adults, the two most common complaints I hear about the way they were raised was that they were (1) asked to "go out and play with the other kids" and (2) told they read too much. Some parents even took books away or make fun of them for reading.
The best way to make your introverted child a winner is to make him or her a winner in your own eyes. Learn to identify and value the introverted qualities of concentration, focus, self discipline, depth, integrity and self knowledge. It is without doubt and we know this metaphysically, that there are no accidents in this world. Your introverted child has come into your life for a reason!
Quit waiting for them to "turn into" social butterflies. Just imagine what the world would have missed if Steven Spielberg had gone outside to play with the other children.
And be of good cheer. The higher up you go in education and intelligence, the greater the percentage of introverts. Through history, introverts have made contributions to the world far in excess of their numbers. While comprising only 30% of the population, they have furthered humanity in many fields. Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Albert Schweitzer and Mother Theresa have all been identified as introverts by the Keirsey Temperament Inventory. Visit Keirsey on the web and learn more at www.keirsey.com. President George Bush Sr., Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, the world's greatest investor, are introverts who have recently made great contributions.
Learning about introverts and supporting your introverted child during the school years in being consciously introverted will bring happiness into your home and build a positive sense of self in your child. Above all, please let your introverted child have his or her own room and let them close the door whenever they want. Being alone is their way of restoring balance and it is quite necessary for good mental and physical health.
Nancy R. Fenn, author of "You Can Be an Introvert and Win" is a powerful advocate for introversion as a legitimate personality style. Her mission in life is to help introverts understand themselves better and to support them with resources, tools and self help to win in every area of life. Nancy's books and articles address the four areas of special interest to introverts: dating, career, health and travel. Introverts have special talents and special needs. Learn more about yourself and win!
Drive home a different route.
Shop at a different grocery store.
Order something from the menu you've never tried before.
Sleep on the other side of the bed.
Make a conscious effort to experiment.
Let yourself feel the adrenaline level rise a bit. Allow your anxiety level to increase. Feel your heart rate and breathing going faster.
The adrenaline is your body's natural drug that, in moderation, makes you sharp, creative and quick. It creates the feeling of excitement and exhilaration that comes from trying something new. Recognize that it also can be scary and stressful. Some stress is useful. Too much can be harmful. Some stress provides energy. Too much stress causes distress and can lead to burnout if done to extreme.
Why would you want to give yourself the stress of stepping outside your comfort zone? Because that's where growth takes place. Just like a muscle gets stronger when you exercise it outside its normal range of use, you get stronger when you get out of your rut. And just like your muscles, once you stretch beyond your current capabilities, you don't ever go back to your original dimensions.
As you try new things, you gain confidence. Confidence makes you feel powerful and good. And when you are confident that you can survive new ideas, you allow yourself to try even more new things.
What's the limit? Obviously, you need to be realistic in your risk management. Most successful people think through the possible outcomes of taking a risk. Then they prepare for how they would deal with each potential outcome. Successful people take risks, but they are not foolhardy or stupid.
What are some higher level activities that could add to your personal and professional growth?
Here's my challenge to you.
Make a list of 50 things that, if you really were successful in doing them, you would be a better person or a better company. Consider a few new tricks such as:
Give a speech
Write and publish an article
Start an exercise program
Teach a class
Feed a homeless person
Climb a mountain
Learn to play a new musical instrument
Sign up for a dance class
Try for that promotion
Then choose one or two that you are willing to do within the next 90 days. Schedule those new activities, then go for it. Afterward, choose one or two more and do it again.
Make personal and professional growth a lifelong habit. You will not become an old dog as long as you keep learning new tricks.
Gary Lockwood is Your Business Coach. Increasing the Effectiveness and Enhancing the Lives of CEOs, business owners and professionals.