The Bottom Line
By Marti Olsen Laney; 302 pages. Subtitle: Helping Your Child Thrive in an Extroverted World
In a world where kids are supposed to be quick on the pick-up, over-involved, easily verbal and friend-heavy, a child who's deliberate, thoughtful, slow to warm up and quick to shut down can seem at serious risk. Is your quiet child anxiety-disordered, attention-defective, communication-impaired? Or is she just an introvert who's perfectly happy to be social and attentive, on her own careful terms? Hidden Gifts can help you see what's really going on, and value your child's unique personality.
- Provides a respectful profile of a misunderstood personality type
- Gives concrete suggestions for parents who want to nurture, not make over, their "innie"
- Considers how differences in family temperaments and expectations cause problems
- Follows "innie" issues through extended family, friend, and school encounters
- Prose is brisk and enjoyable to read
- What, is shyness a special need now?
- Makes sweeping generalizations about what "innies" like and don't
- May need some adjustment to apply to your child with additional challenges
- Gives only the briefest coverage of how introversion can be diagnosed as a disability
- For parents used to dealing wtih real dilemmas, this one may seem lightweight
- Introduction: Embarking
Part I: Appreciating Different Designs
- Chapter 1: Was an Introverted Child Dropped Down Your Chimney?
- Chapter 2: Innies and Outies Are Hardwired
Chapter 3: Introverts' Advantages in an Extroverted world
- Part II: Raising Introverted Children With Roots and Wings
Chapter 4: Building Emotional Resilience
- Chapter 5: The Care and Feeding of Innies
Chapter 6: Play, Conversation, and the Art of Relaxation
- Part III: Family Variations
Chapter 7: The Family Temperament Tango
Chapter 8: Improving Sibling Relationships
- Chapter 9: Extending the Family Tree
Part IV: Bringing Out What's Inside
Chapter 10: Innies in the Classroom
- Chapter 11: Support Your Introvert at School and on the Playing Field
Chapter 12: Innie Social Savvy
- Chapter 13: Encouraging Your Introvert to Flex His Social Muscles
Chapter 14: Thorny Social Patches
- Conclusion: Reflection as We Disembark
Appendix: Syndromes and Disorders That Are Sometimes Confused with Introversion
Guide Review - Book Review: The Hidden Gifts of the Introverted Child
It's all about where you get your energy: Extroverts get it from being with other people, and lose it sitting home alone. Introverts get charged up by alone time, and drained by socializing. After reading Laney's description in this friendly if over-long book, I explained it to my daughter like she was her iPod; if she doesn't plug in at home, she'll run out of juice while she's out. It helped her understand why she comes home from school outings exhausted and in tears, even if she had a great time. Like that little music player, she can't play when the power's out.
I learned things from this book, and I generally enjoyed reading it. Yet all the way through, I couldn't help but wonder: 302 pages on introversion? Is this such a significant issue that it requires 302 pages? My favorite book on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, a devastating disability with serious implications, is 43 pages long. Which is not to say that being introverted can't be a concern, or that it has no relation to special needs; there are many pages here on which you could substitute "child with sensory integration dysfunction" for "innie" and it would make just as much sense. But the author seems to want to have it both ways -- making introversion something serious enough for a lengthy book, but not serious enough to be, you know, a disorder or anything. Which leaves the text a little lightweight.
I wish Laney had spent more time dealing with the ways introversion shades into ADD or anxiety or autism; those disorders get a quick three-page appendix, when they're likely the very things that nag at parents of introverted kids. But if nothing else, it's useful to show this book to your "innie" and say, "Hey, if you were the only person who feels the way you do, would someone write a 302-page book about it?"