Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool, also blogs about motherhood at Steady Mom
It wasn’t until years after becoming a mother that I really understood myself. I grew up feeling “different,” but I never understood my differences or how to handle them.
My well-meaning dad would sometimes say “Why don’t you go out with a few friends?” Yet that didn’t appeal to me at all after a long day at high school, followed by hours of dance practice. I wanted to stay home, read books, and watch movies–which wasn’t what supposedly interests your typical American teenager.
I took personality tests in both high school and college. I found them fascinating, but the word “introvert” always seemed like a negative to me. Thanks heavens, we now live in the midst of an Introverted Renaissance.
I not only understand myself, I love how I was made! I finally appreciate the giftings I have that others don’t. Want to know the best part?
I can help my own introverted child love and know himself from the start. Here are a few gifts we can offer the little ones who share this aspect of our personality.
1. Give your introverts the refueling time they need.
“Don’t think of introversion as something that needs to be cured…Spend your free time the way you like, not the way you think you’re supposed to.”
― Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking
As a mother teaching two extroverts and one introvert, I need to tailor our time differently so that each of my children get what they need. For the introverts among us, our afternoon rest time is vital to our days (It’s when I’m typing these words, in fact!).
But throughout certain seasons I’ve sensed that my seven-year-old introverted Elijah needed even more alone time than usual. I began letting him play outside while Trishna and Jonathan had their daily video time. When the videos ended, all parties switched: Elijah came inside for his video time while the other two headed outside.
(An important note to mention: My sweet little introvert didn’t always want to do this, just like we don’t always want to do what’s best for us. We worked to create this new habit, but there was a learning curve before it felt comfortable to everyone. We also stopped doing this when it appeared Elijah no longer needed it.)
2. Give your introvert role-playing practice, but let them be themselves.
Elijah’s extroverted, much louder brother and sister sometimes unintentionally overshadow him. When we have friends coming over or we’re headed somewhere, Elijah likes to role-play some of the things he might want to say or do. I take turns asking questions and letting him think of answers.
But I also need to allow my son to not only be who he is–we need to celebrate who he is! He’s unlikely to start jabbering on in long conversations with strangers and that’s okay. You’ve probably noticed the world lacks good listeners–we could use a few more of them.
3. Give them the chance to shine–alone.
“The secret to life is to put yourself in the right lighting. For some, it’s a Broadway spotlight; for others, a lamplit desk. Use your natural powers — of persistence, concentration, and insight — to do work you love and work that matters. Solve problems. make art, think deeply.”
~ Susan Cain, Quiet
Our children have not been enrolled in many classes or lessons yet, but when I recently found an African drumming class nearby it seemed like the perfect chance to let Elijah shine on his own.
It was the first time in his little life when he wasn’t surrounded by brother and sister and he did great.
4. Give them the gift of understanding themselves.
“We know from myths and fairy tales that there are many different kinds of powers in this world. One child is given a light saber, another a wizard’s education. The trick is not to amass all the different kinds of power, but to use well the kind you’ve been granted.”
― Susan Cain, Quiet
I’ve already had many conversations with Elijah about what it means to be an introvert–always in empowering, positive words. We talk about our strengths. We talk about enjoying people, but also needing time alone. We also talk about being who we are with boldness and confidence.
We don’t actually spend many days at home in our pajamas, but I am ever so thankful to the good Lord for sending me one introverted child to identify with, bond with, and relate to.
Elijah, you’re amazing. Mommy loves you.
Are you an introvert homeschooling an introvert? How are you helping them understand their personality?