Volume 4, Issue 1, 01/21/10
That Inner (Introvert) Child
Lately I've had several conversations with people about their
introverted kids. I always recommend Marti Olsen Laney's book,
The Hidden Gifts of the Introverted Child - Helping Your Child
Thrive in an Extroverted World. And I always add that I think
the book is great for adult introverts too, as a way to get
perspective on who you were as an introvert kid.
I've been talking about it enough that I got re-interested in
my own life as an introvert kid and decided to give The Hidden
Gifts another look.
I went straight to Laney's list of the gifts. Here it is:
- Introverts have rich inner lives;
- Innies know how to smell the roses;
- Innies have a love of learning;
- Introverts think outside the box;
- Introverts excel in the creative arts;
- Introverts have a high emotional IQ;
- Introverts are gifted in the art of conversation;
- Introverts enjoy their own company;
- Introverts develop healthy habits;
- Introverts are good citizens.
I was looking to see how much of this description I could relate
to in remembering myself as a child. I find the language
somewhat fanciful. At first I identified with only maybe half
of the characteristics. I decided to read the explanations of
each one and, to my surprise, found a way to identify with the
whole list. Maybe I was in the mood to be convinced (the last
time I did this I don't think it was 100%) but I liked the
The first chapters of this book focus on the physiology of both
introverts and extroverts - lots of discussion on how the brain
and nervous system - and the whole body - behave in little
introverts and extroverts.
This time as I read about the gifts of introverted children, I
was struck with how concretely they can be connected to the
physical traits. Introvert kids know how to smell the roses
because their busy brains, always processing what they're
experiencing, don't need much outside stimulation to stay
Introvert kids tend to have a high emotional IQ because their
inner focus gives them access to their feelings, which they
process and integrate, and which tends to create empathy for
Introverts are dominant on the side of the nervous system that
says slow down, relax, take it easy. So we tend to be easier
on our bodies. And introvert brains are designed to think
before acting, so little introverts have a natural potential to
develop healthy habits.
As for myself, this latest review of me as a young introvert has
resolved my softball guilt. I always dreaded those summer
softball games that would get going in somebody's yard. In
fact I hated them to the point that I wouldn't play. I'd pick
being seen as a party pooper over playing. I much preferred
practicing backbends and other gymnastic feats with my friend
Joycie in my own backyard. It's a vague way I've thought there
was something wrong with me - why didn't I like softball?!
Now I'm thinking it's just fine that I didn't. There may be
thousands of little introverts who play softball with gusto.
But I can also make the case for a team sport that requires
your body to think on its feet not being a little introvert's
idea of a good time. And I'm going with it.
End of food for thought, onto a practical idea:
A Practical Idea for Introverts
Think about reading The Hidden Gifts of the Introvert Child as
a way to reflect on your childhood. Or muse about you and
Laney's list of introvert gifts.
A Practical Idea for Extroverts
Think of a young introvert in your life and find a way to send
her or him a vote of confidence.