In my recent posts (see left) about the book Quiet by Susan Cain, which include my thoughts on what we can do for our introverted kids, I have yet to include the exception to the rule of introversion.
Ms. Cain points out that some introverted people who love quiet and prefer not to be in the spotlight are excellent public speakers. How can this be? And how can we help our introverted children gain such a valuable skill?
Citing a much-loved professor who gives wildly popular lectures to large groups of people, Ms. Cain explains that this man is so introverted that when he’s scheduled to give multiple speeches, he spends the intervening moments off by himself so he can regroup. Sometimes this has required that he hide in a washroom stall because there’s nowhere else he can be alone.
How can a man this introverted be able to give such wonderful lectures? Ms. Cain explains that it’s extremely important to him that he share knowledge with his students. His passion for his work helps him override his natural introversion, at least when it comes to teaching.
How can we help our introverted kids learn to do this? After all, being able to speak to a group (of a few people or many) is a useful skill in this world. Even college admission or job interviews sometimes require speaking in front of several people. This might sound easy to the extrovert, but not to the introvert.
Having read this book, I would suggest that, instead of trying to bring your introverted child out of their shell by putting them into lots of group activities, make sure they have access to things that interest them and watch them bloom. Show interest whenever they tell you about something that fascinates them. Give them opportunities to share their discoveries and interests with Grandma and Grandpa when they see them. Every child is fascinated by something; extroverts just make it more obvious.
Ms. Cain’s general recommendations for helping your introverted child include:
- Letting them be who they are instead of forcing them into an extrovert’s mold.
- Help them strategize how to handle upcoming social interactions if they need it.
- Give them time to absorb new situations instead of trying to force acclimation right away.
These are just a few; you’ll learn much more in Ms. Cain’s book, which I highly recommend: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking