It’s the 21st century. We know about Indigo children and introversion is being accepted as a legitimate personality type! It’s a Brave New World.

If you’re not introverted yourself, you may not know how to anticipate the needs of your introverted child as they begin to make their way in the great adventure of THE SCHOOL YEARS.

First, let’s review the characteristics of introversion in children.

Introverts are territorial -- about their possessions, their physical space, their desk, room, clothes, hair, bodies, pencil and lunchbox. Don’t ask to borrow anything. Don’t take anything without asking. Don’t be offended if the answer is a flat no. (Introverts don’t really care what others think about them). No uninvited pats of “reassurance” please! No uninvited hugs.

Introverts give energy to other people and can be easily exhausted from socializing.

Introverts usually love to read and love learning.

Introverts don’t like to talk and particularly dislike small talk. They prefer to communicate in writing.

Introverts need time to rehearse for public occasions such as meeting relatives, meeting the new teacher, saying thank you and goodbye at the birthday party, etc.

Introverts are easily humiliated in public and need private time to practice new skills.

Introverts are not subject to “peer pressure”. You will find remarkable examples of this in the article. This is great news for you! It means that later, during the teen years, they can stand alone against drinking, drugs and experimental sex.

Introverts are over stimulated by bright lights, noise and crowds.

We interviewed fifty introverts in a survey about their elementary school years. You may find their answers very helpful and really quite amazing in some instances.

SOCIAL PRESSURE MAKES IT DIFFICULT

Many introverts we interviewed mentioned how annoying social pressure was, even from Day One, the “first day of school”. “I hated the kids,” says one introvert. “They were all stupid and mean.” Another introvert agrees, “…pure torture, compliments of the peer group.” “I’d rather not remember,” says another. “The entire thing was just a flash of boredom, humiliation and depression.”

One man elaborated on his experience with social pressure saying, “I know that I used to hate going to school because of the social pressure. At one point I think I used to be a bully. I think this was mainly because of my parents splitting up but I think the fact that I couldn’t become friends with them also contributed.”

A young woman made this comment, “I liked my pre-school and I liked elementary until the 3 rd grade when I had a very snappy and unstable teacher, and then every year, despite having more good teachers after that, got worse and worse because the kids got manipulative, insecure, competitive, cliquish, hateful, etc., and I just couldn’t conform, so I was ostracized and picked on relentlessly until I started high school at a new school.”

Social pressure is an ongoing challenge for introverted children. Some come to terms with it better than others, such as this woman who dumbed down to fit in. She explains, “I loved elementary school. I loved the attention, but had to ‘dumb myself down’ to fit in. I can especially recall a penmanship/spelling exercise in first grade. The teacher made us write our names on the first day of class, and then again on the last day. Long forgotten papers from the first day were returned. As [the teacher] handed them out, waves of laughter erupted around me. “Look how I used to spell my name!’ was a popular comment in the cluster of kids around me. Well, I was appalled. I spelled my name right the first day, just like I did that day, but I couldn't stand the feelings of alienation that were now commonplace. I quickly changed the spelling of my name, quickly blending in, which felt more comfortable to me.”

INTROVERTS ARE OFTEN SMARTER ... THIS HAS ITS PROS AND CONS

The percentage of introverts rises with IQ. The ratio is normally 25-30% introverts but the ratio switches to 75% among PhD’s, Rhodes Scholars and Phi Beta Kappas. Often intelligence and a love of learning accompany introversion as it does in the lives of these individuals who contributed to the survey.

”I never really liked elementary school at all,” says one of these introverts. “[I was] constantly teased, either for being smart ot quiet. It drove me to be a slacker for awhile.”

THE TEACHER'S PET ISSUE

Another introvert explains, “I got it coming and going. I was always teacher’s pet. I always did my homework. I loved to read, study and learn. I took on extra projects, tried very hard to please and of course in the elementary school culture, just generally alienated everyone around me. Fortunately it didn’t matter to me. In 6th grade all the kids tried to suck up to me in science class so they could cheat off me for exams (the teacher was horribly oblivious). I almost fell for it once and then it just made me disgusted so I blew them all off.”

Many mention being the teacher’s pet and loving to learn, even from the very beginning. Here’s a pretty common formula, “I didn’t really like the social part of elementary school but I loved the learning part.” A woman now in her twenties elaborates on the theme. “I loved elementary school. My first day of school was smooth. I distinctly remember another child crying and holding on to his mother’s leg because he didn’t want to stay and feeling sorry for him. We were there to learn! We wouldn’t be stuck home all day doing the same old boring stuff! Didn’t they tell him that?”

Here’s a humorous reply from an introvert whose frankness is characteristic. “My first day of school the teacher noticed I was a bit withdrawn and asked, ‘Is there anything I can do to make you more comfortable?’ I said, ‘Send me home.’ I have always hated school but loved learning. Sometimes the two have been incompatible….”

INTROVERTS LOVE TO READ

So many of the introverts I interviewed mentioned that they loved to read! “I liked elementary school,” says one, “because it was an escape from my house and the books were available and free.” Another said, “I like elementary school. I was shy but I was a very good reader. I learned to read in preschool.”

For some it was ok to just be quiet and watch the others. “[School] was ok,” says an introvert now in her thirties. “… at recess I usually either played by myself or with my sister and her friend and in the classroom I was pretty quiet and it was interesting since my class misbehaved so it was interesting to observe.” Another introvert, now in high school, found it a little more complicated. “Everything first was a nightmare for me. I’m always worried that I’ll do something wrong … what kind of people I’ll be with …. I don’t speak much. I prefer just to listen to what everyone has to say. Most of my classmates think that I’m a snob, unapproachable, etc. And before I used to care but now, no way!”

BEING DIFFERENT, A LONER

Mostly for the guys, being a loner seemed “ok”. Gary found a terrific way to get even more time alone. “I was always a loner in elementary school,” he says. “It wasn’t until I was older that I found a way I was comfortable interacting with people I didn’t know that well. I had few friends but only felt it was a bad thing when other people pointed it out. I remember that I often felt overwhelmed in new situations but at the same time my favorite thing to do was get myself lost in the hallways of my seemingly huge school and explore. Getting ‘lost’ allowed me to explore on my own.”

It seems that time alone during the school day is a very precious thing for introverts. Another young man mentioned an interesting approach to his introversion. “I liked elementary school as long as I could be allowed to play alone,” he says. “Whenever I was forced to play with others, I tended to become the leader, ironically. My theory is that I spent so much time alone that I was able to develop play plans complete with instructions and I noticed that sociable kids had a sort of freeform way of playing which they seemed to enjoy but which would, because of the lack of outlines, devolve into confrontations between them. So when I was forced to interact with them, I came with fun ideas of things to do but they were organized and the other kids gravitated towards organized play. Weird, huh? I have a feeling that loners often appear to others as self-contained and perhaps organized because we usually have time to think things through until we come up with complete plans. People, I've noticed, like to follow those they perceive as knowing what they're doing.” Well, there’s a young man who has a lot of self awareness.

For some, though, being “different” was not “ok”. “I enjoyed elementary school somewhat,” says Caroline. “[But] I didn’t like being different – caring about different things and seeing things differently than others.” Another agreed. “If I would pick a phrase to describe school, I’d go with ‘living hell’,” she said.

As a result of many in-depth discussions with introverts, we would like to recommend some things to buffer your introverted child’s elementary school years.

NANCY’S TOP NINE WAYS TO GRACE YOUR INTROVERTED CHILD DURING THE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL YEARS

1. Take the pressure off relating and social skills and keep it on academics and sports where your kid can excel!

2. Your child will often be teacher’s pet. Recognize this whether they do or not and give it value. Extroverted parents worry that this will make their child unpopular but introverted kids don’t care if they are “popular” or not so they have much to gain and nothing to lose by being teacher’s pet.

3. Bless your child’s independence and ability to stand alone against the crowd. In high school this may keep them from doing drugs, having sex, cheating on exams and other things kids do to “get along”

4. Provide extra curricular activities that can be pursued alone. Popular favorites are individual sports, collections (stamps, baseball cards, etc.), some after school jobs such as mowing lawns or baby sitting, music lessons, walking the dog, being on the internet….

5. PLEASE LET YOUR CHILD READ. Reading is an enormously popular pastime for introverted kids. Please let them have their nose constantly in a book.

6. Don’t nag about making friends. It won’t do any good and may permanently damage your child’s self esteem

7. Please let your introverted child have a pet. Many of the introverts I’ve interviewed mention that a pet has been their favorite companion at all times in their live

8. If humanly possible, let your introverted child have a room of their own with a door that closes. Let your child go to their room when school gets out and stay there till dinner time. This is natural behavior for an introvert. It doesn’t mean they don’t love you or that they are going to be sociopathic! It means they are exhausted from the social interaction required at school and need time alone to recharge their batteries.

9. If you really love them (!) try to keep the house quiet. Many of my introverted clients suffered in houses where the radio or tv blared, lots of people milled around, came and went, the lights were too bright and voices too loud.

Author's Bio: 

Nancy R. Fenn is the IntrovertZCoach. It is her mission in life to raise consciousness concerning introversion as a legitimate personality style. Learn more on the web as www.theintrovertzcoach.com