7 Ways Introverts Can Harness Their Quiet Superpowers

06/16/2016 
  • SUSAN CAIN

    This article first appeared onQuietRev.com

    QUIET REVOLUTION

    Quiet Power by Susan Cain: Excerpt

    I’ve come to realize not only how important it is to follow my instincts and interests, but also to express my feelings and explain my actions to others. Here’s an example that might be familiar to you: Say you’re walking through the hallway, from one class to another, deep in thought or possibly overwhelmed by the noise and crowds. You pass a friend or classmate and glance at her briefly, but you’re so preoccupied that you don’t manage to stop to say hi and chitchat. You haven’t meant to be rude or hurtful, but your friend thinks you’re angry about something.

    Be on the lookout for moments of misunderstanding such as this one, and do your best to explain what you were thinking and feeling. An extroverted friend—and maybe even an introverted one—likely won’t guess that you were distracted by your thoughts or by too much sensory stimulation, and your explanation will make all the difference.

    Not everyone will understand your nature, though, even if you try to explain it. When Robby, a teenager from New Hampshire, first learned about introversion, he felt a great sense of relief. He had a tendency to turn quiet in large groups, and although he’d always felt comfortable talking and joking with his closest friends, he had a limit. “After a couple of hours I’m like, ‘Whoa, I can’t do this.’ It’s draining. There’s a wall that goes up and I don’t want to talk to anyone. It’s not physical exhaustion. It’s mental exhaustion.”

    Robby tried to explain the differences between introverts and extroverts to an outgoing friend, but she couldn’t understand his perspective. She thrived in loud, busy places and didn’t see why he needed to be alone so often. Another friend of his, Drew, grasped the idea immediately. Drew was more of an ambivert. He wasn’t as outgoing as his younger sister, but he wasn’t as reserved as his parents, either. The more he talked with Robby about what it was like to be introverted, the more he wanted people to understand both sides of his own personality.

    As an amateur filmmaker, Drew had been experimenting with a new animation style, and after researching the subject of introversion, he produced an animated, graphics-intensive public service announcement about what it means to be quiet. Drew posted it on YouTube, but that was only the start. He was also a producer of the high school’s television news show. Once a week, every student in the school watched the latest episode, and in one of these Drew included his PSA on introverts. The response was overwhelming; even one of the teachers, who was secretly introverted, expressed his gratitude. “I was able to bring the whole school community to an understanding,” Drew said. “For weeks afterward, people would come up to me and say, ‘Hey, that was awesome!’” His friend Robby thanked him more than anyone.

    Every school could benefit from a deeper understanding of the different strengths and needs of introverted and extroverted students. The middle and high school years are the most difficult times to be introverted, because when hundreds of kids are crammed together in a single building it can feel as if the only way to gain respect and friendship is through vivacity and visibility. But there are so many other great qualities to have, such as the ability to focus deeply on topics and activities, and a talent for listening with empathy and patience. These are two of the “superpowers” of introverts. Channel them; find your passions and pursue them wholeheartedly. Then you will not only survive but also thrive.

    STANDING OUT QUIETLY: Sometimes it’s natural for the stress and drama of the school day to get to you. But you can rise above all that with your inner self intact. Here are a few quick tips that you can always refer back to:

    UNDERSTAND YOUR NEEDS: The boisterous environments common to schools are often taxing to introverts. Acknowledge that sometimes there will be a mismatch between you and your environment, but try not to let it stop you from being you. Find quiet times and places to recharge your batteries. And if you prefer to socialize with one or two friends at a time, rather than in a big group, that’s just fine! It can be a relief to find people who feel the same way, or who just understand where you’re coming from.

    LOOK FOR YOUR OWN CIRCLE: You may find that your sweet spot is with athletes, coders, or with people who are just plain nice whether or not your interests are perfectly aligned. If you need to make a checklist of things to talk about in order to get a friendship rolling, go for it.

    COMMUNICATE: Make sure your closest friends understand why you retreat or become quiet at times during school; talk to them about introversion and extroversion. If they’re extroverts, ask them what they need from you.

    FIND YOUR PASSION: This is crucial to everyone, regardless of personality type, but it’s especially important for introverts, because many of us like to focus our energy on one or two projects we really care about. Also, when you’re feeling scared, genuine passion will lift you up and give you the excitement you need to propel you through your fear.

    EXPAND YOUR COMFORT ZONE: We can all stretch to some degree, pushing past our apparent limitations in the service of a cause or a passion project. And if you’re stretching into an area that really frightens you—for many people, public speaking falls into this category—make sure to practice in small, manageable steps. You’ll read more about this in chapter 13.

    KNOW YOUR BODY LANGUAGE: Smiling will not only make other people comfortable around you—it will also make you happier and more confident. This is a biological phenomenon: Smiling sends a signal to the rest of your body that all is well. But this principle is not just about smiles: Pay attention to what your body does when you’re feeling confident and at ease—and what it does when you feel tense. Crossing your arms, for example, is often a reaction to nervousness, and it can make you seem—and feel—closed off. Practice arranging your body in the positions that don’t signal distress—and that make it feel good.

     

    Excerpt from Quiet Power by Susan Cain. Copyright ©2016 by Susan Cain. Published byDial Books for Young Readers, a division of Penguin Random House.Audiobook also available.

    Get Kids Outside Making and Doing This Summer

    A Big Pile of Fantastic Ideas to Get Kids Outside Making and Doing This Summer

    By JESSICA LAHEY date published MAY 22, 2014

    It’s May, time for teachers to revisit their bookshelves and think about summer reading selections. This year, I’m considering a different kind of summer reading for my kids, books that will inspire them to head outside and make, do and create. My younger son, Finn, likes these sorts of projects, and while I can provide him with scrap lumber, nails, a drill and some screws, he and I wanted to find some additional inspiration.

    Judy Russell, our town librarian, enthusiastically joined in my research and helped me come up with some fantastic resources for inventing, constructing and making.

    An excellent place to start, she said, is your local library. She pointed out that libraries have been ahead of the curve on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education and many of them offer construction classes. She also directed me to our local Makerspace, a sort of community center combined with tools and educators. We found a directory of Makerspace programs around the world, and many of these Makerspaces offer tinkering programs for kids.

    Our library just acquired “The Art of Tinkering,” by Karen Wilkinson and Mike Petrich of the Exploratorium and its Institute for Inquiry in San Francisco, on the recommendation of a science teacher. This book offers a great way to start looking for beginner-level projects, as the required “tools” are commonly available in most households. The projects passed muster with my own 10-year-old maker, and most of them are projects he can tackle and complete on his own.

    While he was excited about many of Ms. Wilkinson and Mr. Petrich’s ideas, Finn said what he really wants to do this summer is whittle and carve magic wands and wizard staffs. He acquired a new pocketknife recently, and he’s been itching to put it to use. I immediately thought of Gever Tulley, founder of the Tinkering School. His popular TED video, “Five Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Children Do,” has nearly three million views, and is worth a watch. I picked up a copy of Tulley’s book, “50 Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Children Do,” and Finn was thrilled with it. The table of contents includes some of his favorite activities, including whittling, making rope swings, playing with fire, and map reading.

    Ms. Russell also handed me a copy of Make Magazine, and directed me toward the book “The Best of MAKE (Make 75 Projects From the Pages of MAKE),” a compilation of the magazine’s best projects. The publisher, Maker Media, founded the Maker Movement as well as the Maker Education Initiative that sponsors Maker Corp sites at libraries, museums and schools across the country. These sites provide supervision by Maker Corps Members, mentors and instructors that guide and direct kids’ construction and innovation efforts, even in the summer.

    A science teacher, Christine Mytko, chimed in with an enthusiastic recommendation for the book “Zero to Maker: Learn (Just Enough) to Make (Just About) Anything,” by David Lang, calling it an “essential read” for aspiring tween and teenage makers. “Lang reminds us all that we all have to start somewhere and that the maker community offers many collaborative opportunities to learn and have fun with makers of all skill levels,” she said.

    By the end of my research frenzy, I had accumulated a large pile of books and magazines, and an extensive list of websites on making, doing and creating. I could not help noticing that the publishing industry has targeted dads as the consumers of these kid-focused project books and the primary makers, doers and creators in the family. As I am the keeper of the power tools in our house, I had to grit my teeth and push through my irritation in order to give the wide array of “cool dad” books like “Geek Dad,” “Made by Dad,” “Handy Dad,” “Be the Coolest Dad on the Block” and “Dad’s Book of Awesome Projects” their due. Good thing, too, because despite their dad-centric focus, this geeky, handy mom found plenty of cool ideas.

    After many happy hours of research, Finn and I present our favorite books and websites, the resources we will use this summer as we tinker, build and create the projects of our dreams.

    “Unbored: The Essential Field Guide to Serious Fun,” by Joshua Glenn and Elizabeth Foy Larsen (Finn liked the section on forts and shelters).

    “Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff,” by Scott Bedford (Finn thought the Godzilla skyline would be a cool addition to his room).

    Built by Kids: The ABC’s of DIY,” by Timothy and Laura Dahl (we are particularly excited to build the tire see saw).

    PBS Fun Summer Science Projects for Kids (homemade silly putty!).

    Geek Dad,” by Ken Denmead and the affiliated GeekDad.com’s project forum (we liked Poodle Soup’s newspaper geodesic dome and are curious how big we can go with this design).

    “Tree Houses and Play Houses You Can Actually Build,” by Jeanie Trusty Stiles and David Stiles (we have our eye on the Hobbit treehouse).

    Jessica Lahey is an educator, writer and speaker. She writes about parenting and education for The New York Times, The Atlantic, Vermont Public Radio and her own blog, Coming of Age in the Middle. Her book, “The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed,” will be published by HarperCollins in 2015.

    How much sleep do kids and teens really need? New recommendations from experts.

    The Washington Post

    By Valerie Strauss June 15, 2016
    Anyone who has ever watched children get on a school bus before the sun is up in the morning or teens walk into their first class clutching a jug of coffee knows that too many young people aren’t getting enough sleep. In fact, experts say that more than a third of the U.S. population doesn’t. Now, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine has just released, for the first time, its recommendations for how much sleep children and teens should get to avoid health risks.

    The academy also said that children and teens who do not sleep the recommended amount put themselves at risk for obesity, diabetes, depression, behavior and learning problems, hypertension and more. For teens, there’s more: an increased risk of suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts and self-harm, the panel said.

    The recommendations are:

    Infants 4 to 12 months should sleep 12 to 16 hours per 24 hours (including naps) on a regular basis to promote optimal health.
    Children 1 to 2 years of age should sleep 11 to 14 hours per 24 hours (including naps) on a regular basis to promote optimal health.
    Children 3 to 5 years of age should sleep 10 to 13 hours per 24 hours (including naps) on a regular basis to promote optimal health.
    Children 6 to 12 years of age should sleep nine to 12 hours per 24 hours on a regular basis to promote optimal health.
    Teenagers 13 to 18 years of age should sleep eight to 10 hours per 24 hours on a regular basis to promote optimal health.
    Teens getting up to 10 hours of sleep? Remember that teens, because of unique sleep patterns driven by their circadian rhythms, have a hard time falling asleep before 11 p.m., and their brains stay in sleep mode until at least 8 a.m. With school often starting very early in the morning, teens can’t get eight to 10 hours of sleep. That’s why in 2014, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a policy statement recommending that middle and high schools start class no earlier than 8:30 a.m. Some school districts have moved their start times, but most haven’t, meaning that most teens who go to school are likely to carry on without the recommended sleep.

    The American Academy of Sleep Medicine says it is the only professional society dedicated exclusively to the medical sub-specialty of sleep medicine. Its release of the sleep recommendations came after a 10-month study conducted by a panel of 13 leading sleep experts that reviewed 864 published scientific articles about the relationship between sleep and children’s health and evaluated the evidence. These recommendations are endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Sleep Research Society and the American Association of Sleep Technologists.

    Explaining The News to Our Kids

    Common Sense Media

    Explaining the News to Our Kids

    Kids get their news from many sources, which are not always correct. Here are tips on how to talk about the news — and listen, too.

    Caroline Knorr Senior Parenting Editor | Mom of oneCategories: Screen Time, Violence in the Media

    Senior Parenting Editor | Mom of one

    Shootings, terrorist attacks, natural disasters, end-of-the-world predictions — even local news reports of missing kids and area shootings all can be upsetting news for adults, not to mention kids. In our 24/7 news world, it’s become nearly impossible to shield kids from distressing current events.

    Today, kids get news from everywhere. This constant stream of information shows up in shareable videos, posts, blogs, feeds, and alerts. And since much of this content comes from sites that are designed for adult audiences, what your kids see, hear, or read might not always be age-appropriate. Making things even more challenging is the fact that many kids are getting this information directly on their phones and laptops. Often parents aren’t around to immediately help their kids make sense of horrendous situations.

    The bottom line is that young kids simply don’t have the ability to understand news events in context, much less know whether or not a source of information is credible. And though older teens are better able to understand current events, even they face challenges when it comes to sifting fact from opinion — or misinformation.

    No matter how old your kids are, threatening or upsetting news can affect them emotionally. Many can feel worried, frightened, angry, or even guilty. And these anxious feelings can last long after the news event is over. So what can you do as a parent to help your kids deal with all this information?

    Tips for all kids

    Consider your own reactions. Your kids will look to the way you handle the news to determine their own approach. If you stay calm and rational, they will, too.

    Tips for kids under 7

    Keep the news away. Turn off the TV and radio news at the top of the hour and half hour. Read the newspaper out of range of young eyes that can be frightened by the pictures (kids may respond strongly to pictures of other kids in jeopardy). Preschool kids don’t need to see or hear about something that will only scare them silly, especially because they can easily confuse facts with fantasies or fears.

    Stress that your family is safe. At this age, kids are most concerned with your safety and separation from you. Try not to minimize or discount their concerns and fears, but reassure them by explaining all the protective measures that exist to keep them safe. If the news event happened far away, you can use the distance to reassure kids. For kids who live in areas where crime and violence is a very real threat, any news account of violence may trigger extra fear. If that happens, share a few age-appropriate tips for staying and feeling safe (being with an adult, keeping away from any police activity).

    Be together. Though it’s important to listen and not belittle their fears, distraction and physical comfort can go a long way. Snuggling up and watching something cheery or doing something fun together may be more effective than logical explanations about probabilities.

    Tips for kids 8–12

    Carefully consider your child’s maturity and temperament. Many kids can handle a discussion of threatening events, but if your kids tend toward the sensitive side, be sure to keep them away from the TV news; repetitive images and stories can make dangers appear greater, more prevalent, and closer to home.

    Be available for questions and conversation. At this age, many kids will see the morality of events in stark black-and-white terms and are in the process of developing their moral beliefs. You may have to explain the basics of prejudice, bias, and civil and religious strife. But be careful about making generalizations, since kids will take what you say to the bank. This is a good time to ask them what they know, since they’ll probably have gotten their information from friends, and you may have to correct facts.

    Talk about — and filter — news coverage. You might explain that even news programs compete for viewers, which sometimes affects content decisions. If you let your kids use the Internet, go online with them. Some of the pictures posted are simply grisly. Monitor where your kids are going, and set your URLs to open to non-news-based portals.

    Tips for teens

    Check in. Since, in many instances, teens will have absorbed the news independently of you, talking with them can offer great insights into their developing politics and their senses of justice and morality. It will also give you the opportunity to throw your own insights into the mix (just don’t dismiss theirs, since that will shut down the conversation immediately).

    Let teens express themselves. Many teens will feel passionately about events and may even personalize them if someone they know has been directly affected. They’ll also probably be aware that their own lives could be affected by violence. Try to address their concerns without dismissing or minimizing them. If you disagree with media portrayals, explain why so your teens can separate the mediums through which they absorb news from the messages conveyed.

    Additional resources

    For more information on how to talk to your kids about a recent tragedy, please visit the National Association of School Psychologists or the American Psychological Association.

    Marie-Louise Mares, Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, contributed to this article.

    Tips on Managing Screen Time During Summer

    Tips on Managing Screen Time During Summer

    Screenagers

    Since its release this winter, more than four months ago, people have seen Screenagers in showings in hundreds of cities around the world. We keep hearing from parents about the conversations the film has sparked with their kids— this is great!

    As we enter into the final weeks of the school year, we are all extra busy trying to fit it so much in. Summer break is right around the corner, and many of us are looking forward to having a little more free time.

    But what activities will fill that time? Screen-based activities will be more enticing than ever. Are you ready? Frankly, I know it will be a challenge in my home. I have been thinking of things I plan to do and I thought I would share them here:

    1. Adjust your family’s screen time contract: The agreements you made together about when and where screens are appropriate are probably geared toward life during the school year. They might need a little tweaking to fit your new summer schedules and activities. I would say the number one rule still should be to take the screens out of the bedroom at a reasonable hour. I was speaking with a sleep expert colleague today at Stony Brook and she hopes the American Pediatrics Association will put this in their new guidelines — we will know soon.

    2. Make a screens-on/off vacation plan: Consider guidelines about screen use during road trips, flights, and family time while you’re away on vacation together. Even if you have always allowed your kids to be on their phones in the car, it’s perfectly reasonable to change it up for a trip. In my family, we listen to podcasts together during long car rides. We all enjoy Planet Money and Freakonomics.

    3. Fight fire with fire: Try using technology to help you help your kids to limit their screen time. For example, the app OurPact, has a way for you to turn off your child’s social media for any amount of time. You might agree that there should be four hours in the middle of the day where there will be no phone apps.

    4. Identify positive screen activities: Direct your child toward places to play pro-social games or learn new skills like programming or video editing. Did you know that on average kids only spend 3% of their tech time doing content creation such as making videos or composing music on Garageband? Once they get over the hurdle of just starting to do it, you (and they) will see how productive, relaxed and… CREATIVE they feel!

    5. Subscribe to Tech Talk Tuesdays from the Screenagers website: Sign up here to receive weekly ideas about conversations you can have with your family about a healthy approach to screen time. Last week, for example, we tackled how to navigate a tricky situation — sticking to your family screen use guidelines when friends are over.

    PBS NewsHour: The drug-like effect of screen time on the teenage brain.

     Enjoy summer with your family!

    Stay in touch with the Screenagers community on FacebookTwitter and www.screenagersmovie.com.

    Sincerely, Delaney

    Screenagers’ Filmmaker