What is the Quiet Revolution all about? How Does This Affect Our Introverted Kids?
The Quiet Revolution: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking
I always remember son, when he was 5 years old, to a small carnival. It was lightly raining and there weren’t many children around. He chose to go on a tiny “roller coaster” for little ones. He was going to be the only one on the whole ride and he was excited. An enthusiastic and very out-going young woman locked him in and off he went. As he completed each loop, she would try to cheer him on or high-five him. I watched from the side and noticed him turning his head every time his cart went past her. At the end of the ride she lifted him out and said “You should try smiling a little more buddy!” I retrieved him, smiled, and said “He’s smiling on the inside”. As we walked away, my son said to me “Why was that lady so loud?” This began his awareness and our many conversations about Introverts and Extroverts.
Celebrating a Quieter Way of Being
Susan Cain is the author of the New York Times Bestseller, Quiet, and she has received over 8,000,000 views for her 2012 Ted Talk. Bill Gates Names Susan Cain’s Ted Talk in His Top 15! Her 2014 Ted Talk has just been published, and the written version is available here. If you’ve haven’t yet read her book, I highly recommend it whether or not you are an introvert. It’s funny, insightful and she compiles a lot of current research in psychology, neuroscience and statistics. I think it is a must-read for everyone. She gives permission for introverts to be introverts and explains why their quieter way is equally as important as the outward enthusiasm of extroverts.
Having an introverted son, an introverted husband, and many introverted qualities myself (although I would still be considered an extrovert – especially by my husband and son!) Susan Cain’s stories really struck a chord with me. I remember when my son was younger and the ice-skating teacher proudly announcing that she had got him to speak a word to her, and another lady who asked me in front of him, why he didn’t speak.
He’s still a slow-to-warm up kind of child, but that’s his temperament and that’s okay. It’s no wonder that Susan Cain’s book and Ted Talks are so popular – she is resonating with introverts and families with introverts all over the world! As a society and in our education system, we have made a lot of progress in treating people as individuals and recognizing unique needs such as different ways to self-regulate. However, as Susan Cain points out in her 2014 Ted Talk there is still a lot of pressure for introverts to be extroverts in our classrooms where children and youth spend 30 hours/week. Susan Cain points out that whether it be in the business world or classroom, collaborative groups and open concept learning spaces, are not empowering introverts. It is important for students and work colleagues to be able to work together, but it is also important to encourage independence and allow for quiet, creative time. The Quiet Revolution is a movement to create optional private office spaces, (solitude is important for creativity) teach companies how to train the next generation of quiet leaders and empower quiet children by teaching parents and teachers how to support quiet children to grow into themselves.
Are You an Introvert or an Extrovert?
Susan Cain has created an informal 12 question quiz for you to explore this question. In general, she describes extroversion and introversion as being on a continuum, with extroverts having a preference for a more stimulating environment and introverts preferring a less stimulating environment. Approximately 1/3 of people are introverts. She is creating awareness about introverts with the goal of having settings be more introvert-inclusive.
Suggestions for Parents of Introverted Children
- At the beginning of the school year, arrange a meeting with the classroom teacher to explain your child’s way of interacting and being
- Buy the book, Quiet for your teacher or the school
- Teach your child about introverts and extroverts and that we need both types in the world
- Think ahead, before you plan a day as to when there will be time for some quiet
- Read your child and if he/she seems to be getting overwhelmed by stimulation create an opportunity to take a quiet break
- Allow time for thinking and creativity
- Don’t think of introversion as something that needs to be cured. These children may need more support, for example, in new situations, but they still need to be accepted for who they are
Accepting Our Children for Who They Are
I’m very thankful to Susan Cain for dramatically increasing awareness and understanding about introverts. There is always pressure for parents to feel reassured that their children are developing well and fitting in with our cultural expectations. However, for some children that is like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. At some point, there is a realization that this is just the way my child is and it’s okay that he/she’s the quietest or for some, the loudest in the group, or the most active or bold, or shy or cautious. With love and support they will grow their wings, deepen their roots, and find their way. Susan Cain is validating introverts all over the world, and teaching them to embrace themselves versus feeling ashamed.
She finishes with this quote from Mahatami Gandhi, which is very fitting as she, herself, in her gentle way is creating a ground-swell movement.
In a Gentle Way, You Can Shake the World
Wishing you a week of introvert-extrovert balance, however that looks for you,
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