For the 33rd week in the Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks challenge, I read Quiet Kids - Help Your Introverted Child Succeed in an Extroverted World by Christine Fonseca.
The ideas and information presented in the book relate both to children and adults who are introverts. However, there are many more suggestions about how to help youth who are introverted at home, in school, and everyday life.
I found the book to have helpful and practical ideas for making children who are introverted more comfortable and successful in the world. I truly wish that a book like this was available to my teachers who would have better understood students who are introverted...like me.
Below are some of the key points that I took away from the book:
When introverted children get overstimulated there are some signs to look for: increased agitation, short temper, emotional outbursts, and excessive withdrawal. To help the child, schedule periods of solitude into the day, learn calming strategies, seek solitude after long periods of social connection, and set good boundaries on their time.
When introverted children are understimulated, they have a tendency towards withdrawal and isolation. To counteract that, schedule periods of activity into the day, and make exercise part of the day.
Introverted children are deep thinkers interested in deep feelings and beliefs. They enjoy learning about other people. Friendships, especially ones with people who will volunteer information and take the lead in conversations, are important to introverts.
Many introverted children develop deep beliefs at an early age that guide them throughout their lives. This is related to their tendency to seek answers from within. As a result, they are often less dependent on external validation and more reliant on their inner strengths.
Many introverts are divergent thinkers, analyzing the world from a highly creative point of view.
There are many aspects of introversion. Some (if not all) can apply to each person who is introverted: deep thinker, highly creative/innovative, works well independently, curious, thinks before taking action, builds deep connections/relationships, may overthink simple thinks, takes a long time to complete tasks, may struggle with collaboration, may resist transitioning to new things, overly cautious, may struggle to form friendships initially.
Introverted children function best in a household that is calm, somewhat free from clutter, and organized. They thrive when things are predictable and routine. They also function best when given their own space – a bedroom or a specific section of a shared bedroom – that they can decorate as they choose. They need a comfortable place where they can unwind and shut the world away, especially if they are involved in a number of social activities or around a lot of people for long periods of time.
Other things that help the introverted child include: predictable routines around bedtime, mornings, homework, etc.; opportunities for solitude; reduced pressure when she is overextended; and meal options that are balanced and have protein and regular intervals. All of these things can help restore an introvert and allow her to function at her best.
The Hula Hoop Technique: imagine there is a hula hoop or some other circle on the ground. Step into the middle of it. Everything outside of the circle is outside of your control. This includes friends, family, school…everything. Except you! Everything inside of the circle you have 100% control over, including your thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and actions.
Introverted children are not shy by definition. They are keenly interested in people, often wanting to get to know them at a deep level. However, they are not always comfortable around people, especially larger groups. In these situations, the introvert is often overwhelmed, resulting in withdrawal.
Introverted children are emotionally sensitive. They often hold in their emotions until they explode. At first glance, they may appear to be handling setbacks in stride. More often than not, they are overthinking emotions and bottling them up inside before exploding.
The stress response for the introvert often takes longer to trigger than it does in his or her extroverted peers. However, introverts are more uncomfortable with the feelings associated with a stress response, resulting in a larger, more intense reaction to relatively low levels of anxiety or stress.
There are four key habits to living a healthy and balanced lifestyle:
- Proper rest – introverts require sleep in order to renew their energy stores. Getting eight hours of sleep nightly (at minimum) ensure proper brain functioning and mood stabilization. Consider: turn off electronics and develop a bedtime routine to assist with sleep troubles.
- Eat healthy foods – introverts perform best when they are eating many small meals filled with protein. The protein hits throughout the day help stabilize energy. Consider: When introverts are run down, they will naturally crave simple sugars and refined food. These can make the energy drain happen faster and should be avoided.
- Daily exercise – introverts tend to live in their heads, forgoing activity. But, getting exercise on a daily basis, even small amounts, will assist in recharging dwindling energy supplies and managing stress. Consider: Any type of activity is good for introverts. But be careful about exercising late at night as this can lead to sleep problems.
- Relaxation and connections – introverts need a balance of solitude and connections in order to achieve optimal balance. Take time to help your child both distress and renew, as well as connect on a social level. Consider: If you find your child withdrawing from all social contact or becoming agitated, check their stress levels. Odds are their energy stores have been depleted related to stress. Help them take a little time to decompress and renew.
With regards to stress, introverted children should:
- Focus on healthy habits including appropriate eating, sleeping, and exercise routines.
- Spend time relaxing every day. Don’t allow their energy stores to become too depleted.
- Pay attend to their internal chatter. Redirect negative self-talk.
- Be mindful and realistic in their perspective of situations and guard against perfectionism.
- If they find themselves particularly stressed over a specific event, mentally rehearse the event, focusing on successfully completing the activity.
Creativity is a natural area of competency for most introverted people. This is inclusive of more than the arts and artistic endeavors. This is the ability to move past traditional ideas and thoughts and create something new built from the old – innovation.
The creative process is a natural force, requiring periods of solitude, stillness, and contemplation. Introverts are particularly well-suited to a creative path. All introverts require opportunities for creative contemplation in order to stay balanced.
This list includes daily activities designed to enhance creativity:
- Have your child read something new or unfamiliar, such as book in a new genre or on an unexplored topic, every day.
- Ask the question “what else?” often.
- Have your child come up with five new ways to use familiar objects every day.
- Play creative word games and puzzles often.
- Make a “creation” box filled with any art supplies.
- The next time your child wants a new game, have her make one.
- Look for ways for your child to be creative every day.