"Mom, where are the clothespins?"
"Whatcha workin' on?" I ask.
"Nothing," she replies.
Awhile later, I find this in the backyard.
What's the password? I don't have one, so I knock, "Can I come in a minute?"
I hear a giggle from inside the box and the flap comes down.
"Will you show me around your fort?"
"Sure. This is the drawing wall...
... and over here's the reading corner."
I take note of the pillow, blankets, and stuffed animals. I stand up to walk away, "It looks like you're pretty comfy in here. If you need anything else, just yell."
"Ok. Thanks, Mom."
I walk inside and her sister Quinn asks, "Where's Rose?"
"She's busy right now. Why don't you watch a show or find something to do on your own for awhile?"
She stares at me for a moment, perplexed and then yells, "Rose!?!"
I immediately hush her and she scowls.
I explain, "Honey, she's outside. Don't bother her. I told you, she's busy."
"Doing what?" she asks.
"She's busy doing nothing."
Teaching Your Child To Respect Alone Time In An Extrovert's World
I have two daughters and one is an introvert and the other is an extrovert. This dichotomy can make parenting challenging at times. At my house, we are constantly trying to reinforce two lessons:
- For my little introvert: It is ok to politely excuse yourself if you need a break to recharge. There is nothing wrong with enjoying some private time alone.
- For my little extrovert: Sometimes people need a moment to themselves to refresh. Give them the space they need and don't be offended. It doesn't mean they're angry or don't like you, they simply need some quiet time.
We are trying to teach my introvert that her needs are a-ok. Even if we seem to live in an extrovert's world, studies show almost fifty-percent of the population are extroverts. I want my daughter to know her need for quiet time is perfectly normal.
Often extroverts mistake introverts as shy. A good friend sent me the article Caring for Your Introvert: Habits and Needs of a Little Understood Group saying, “I wish I had the courage to send this to my mom.”
It is a powerful insight into the world of introverts. Pause, take a moment to read the article, and then pop back over. I’ll wait.
"Extroverts are energized by people, and wilt or fade when alone. Leave an extrovert alone for two minutes and he will reach for his cell phone. In contrast, after an hour or two of being socially “on,” we introverts need to turn off and recharge. This isn’t antisocial. It isn’t a sign of depression. It does not call for medication. For introverts, to be alone with our thoughts is as restorative as sleeping, as nourishing as eating." — Johnathan Rauch
We are teaching respect for introverts as part of our daily lives. We remind our daughters that everyone has different needs, to be respectful of the fact that people are unique, and to not be hurt when someone needs space. This is an important lesson for our young children to learn.
Both life lessons above are ongoing and I am sure they will evolve as we head into our daughter's tween years. If you have any advice on how you handle either of these lessons at your house, I've got open ears. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, "I'm still practicing being an introvert's mom." Let's chat in the comments.