Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Hidden Gifts

When I was in grad school (that unsuccessful first Ph.D.
attempt) I taught at a university preschool. I became quite impressed
by a special subset of students. Creative and articulate, they were
content to bond with a close friend or two or play solo. They were
wary with new experiences or people, but once familiarity set in they
did just fine. I didn't understand why their parents were so often
ashamed that they weren't mini party animals. In my mind they just
marched to a different drummer to what I perceived as beautiful music.
I was very pleased to read Marti Olsen Laney's The Hidden Gifts
of the Introverted Child. Introverts are a definite minority in
countries like ours. Society tends to value traits extroverts bring
to the table. Laney contends that when introverted children are
allowed to be themselves they have something wonderful and special to
Laney starts by debunking commonly held myths about introverts
such as that they are shy, antisocial, or egotistical. She cites a
wealth of research to show that introverted and extroverted children
are wired differently. Blends of neural transmitters and preferred
neurotransmitter pathways predispose kids to a "give it the gas" or a
"put on the brakes" mode of interacting with the world. Part I ends
with a wonderful description of twelve precious gifts of innie
Part II goes from theoretical to practical parenting, matching
traits of introverted children with ways to work with them rather than
forcing these kids to behave like extroverts like all too many people
do. For instance innies need to be able to recharge in privacy and
quiet. Personal space and ready access to it are crucial. Innies may
have trouble switching off their active minds and need special
precautions to ensure a restful sleep. The rest of the book covers
beyond nuclear family situations such as visits to grandparents,
school, and the playing field.
I would recommend this book to parents, grandparents, teachers,
scout leaders, pediatricians...anyone who works with children.
Actually I think anyone who isn't a hermit in a cave could stand to
read it. If you're an extrovert it may help you to understand some
people who perplex you or seem aloof or snobby. If you're an
introvert you may feel validated for the first time ever.
On a personal note, that is what I experienced. I always thought I
was an extrovert. Wasn't I an elected school board member? Didn't
public speaking and media interviews come easy for me? Still there
were things I didn't understand.
*often managing day to day seems exhausting, but I feel tired or burnt
out, not depressed.
*Living in a densely populated neighborhood, I feel isolated.
*Actions that seem just natural to me are considered very thoughtful
to others.
*People describe me in introverted seeming ways. Our special
education director said I observe much more than most people. Lots of
people comment that I don't say a lot in school board meetings, but
when I do it's very insightful or right on.
The book was a real eye opener. When I read the list of introvert
advantages I felt like Dr. Laney had sent me a picture of myself.
What a relief! Now I don't have to wonder what's wrong with me.
Nothing is. OK, dear readers, this humble reviewer is coming out of a
closet I never knew I was in. I am introvert; hear me whisper.
A great big shout out goes out to my fellow introverts and the people
who understand us. :)
Julia Emily Hathaway

Sent from my iPod

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