Sunday, September 29, 2013

On Having an Introverted Child

The sign that Julia wrote for her bedroom door
We are an introverted family. It's possible one or two of my children will turn out to be extroverts, but I doubt it. In the American population, the split between introverts and extroverts is about 50/50. Previously, specialists had thought introverts were outnumbered at only 25% of the population, but testing has proved that introverts are a larger group than was first thought. They're just a quiet 50%.

Julia is an introvert. She's my only child at home. I'm regularly told that she should be put in a school classroom to make her open up, get more friends, make her friendlier and more sociable. People -- even family members -- assume she is sad and miserable at home.

She is not.

In fact, if introverts are half the population, a huge number of children are fairly miserable every day at school, forced to be with hundreds or (often) thousands of other humans on one campus, in rooms with 25 other humans all day long, eating their meals around tables full of humans in a cafeteria crammed with noise. There's never a moment alone. For introverts, that is exhausting. Every day, all day.

Thus, learning becomes an exhausting affair. Only extroverts are energized by that much human contact. If your child loves her bedroom, comes in the door from school looking weary, goes straight to her room and closes the door, don't think she's anti-social. Far from it! She's oversocialized. The old parental scenario where the adult asks the child about his day, and the child shrugs and mumbles, "okay," when the child is unresponsive and tries to get away ... that's a child who longs for alone-time.

If you want your child to willingly talk to you, don't exhaust his small reservoir of tolerance for interaction on acquaintances whom he barely tolerates. Some introverted children beg their parents to homeschool them. The parents are bemused. Why does she want that? they ask. Don't all kids love being with hundreds of other kids? No, they don't.

Julia loves being home. She may change, and change her mind, in two or three years, but at this point I doubt it. As she approaches 15 years, her temperament is becoming more set, more clear. She likes our company. She and we are knowing each other better and better. And considering she will spend the rest of her life being closely tied to us, and not to hundreds of school kids that she will not keep in touch with, it's wise that we spend these years together. It's our last chance. She's learning in an environment that is well-suited to her temperament. She absorbs information better here. Why would a parent intentionally place a child in a learning environment unsuited to his learning abilities? These are just some things to consider as you evaluate your child, your family, and your school options. Children are not formed from cookie cutters, as we know. Cookie-cutter educations do not suit them. In many ways, a school setting is designed for extroverts. If your child is deeply introverted, bring this fact to the table as you evaluate how he's learning there.

(For another thought-provoking blog post on homeschooling, read Cindy's post here.)

7 comments:

  1. Julia has a fantastic teacher. She's blessed!

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  2. From one introverted family to another.....I totally agree. Being a young child at school exhausted me, and my outgoing mother never got it. She always tried to encourage me to do more, and I just couldn't.

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  3. Amen from this introverted former homeschooling mom! I'm currently reading "Introverts in the Church" by Adam McHugh. It contains so much good info on introversion. Too bad more people don't understand what makes us tick as well as extroverts! I'm glad to be learning to understand myself better. Blessings on you!

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  4. Haha...LOVE that sign. That is how I feel at least for the first half of the day. That would make a great t-shirt. My family is all varying degrees of introverted but I have decided that with age I have become an extroverted introvert.

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  5. I, too, am an introvert, though by the time I got to high school I had figured out the school game very well and was successful at it. Now I do fairly well in social situations, but church is the absolute worst for me.

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  6. I'm also a "high-functioning" introvert - ha! Some friends laugh and tell me I'm definitely a huge extrovert, but actually I'm just a good faker. Thanks for your encouraging comments!

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  7. GREAT post, MK. I'm going to share on Facebook.

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