By Marti Olsen Laney, Psy.D.
Author of The Hidden Gifts of the Introverted Child
Where does your child fall on the introvert/extrovert spectrum? (And where do you?) Answer True or False to the following statements (True if it generally applies, False if it generally doesn't), then add up your True answers to find out.
1. Is energized by time alone in her room or favorite place.
2. Concentrates deeply if a book or project interests him.
3. Dislikes being interrupted when speaking or involved in a project; rarely interrupts others.
4. Prefers to observe for a while before joining in games.
5. Becomes irritable in crowded places or if she shares a space with others for long periods of time, particularly if she is tired.
6. Listens attentively with good eye contact, but his glance tends to drift away when speaking.
7. Keeps her face and body still or shows little expression, especially if tired or in a large group of children.
8. Sometimes has delayed, hesitant, or low-key responses.
9. Needs time to think before answering a question and may need to rehearse before speaking out.
10. Listens more than he talks, unless the topic is of personal interest. In this case, he may talk up a storm, especially if he's in a comfortable setting.
11. Doesn't boast about her knowledge or achievements; she may understand more than she lets on.
12. Feels overwhelmed, rather than energized, by an activity-filled schedule.
13. Sometimes has word-retrieval problems and often speaks in a quiet voice, marked by pauses.
14. Is highly tuned into her own perceptions, ideas, thoughts, feelings, and reactions.
15. Doesn't like to be the center of attention.
16. Can seem unpredictable: chatty at home or in other comfortable settings and subdued elsewhere; energized one day, low energy the next.
17. May be regarded by classmates as quiet, calm, withdrawn, reserved, or aloof.
18. Is observant and sometimes picks up on details others -- even adults -- don't see.
19. Likes consistency, and does best when given ample transition time.
20. Feels anxious when presented with deadlines for a project or a test.
21. May "zone out" if too much is going on, or when watching TV or a video.
22. Has one or two close friends, but may know lots of kids.
23. Has an affinity for creative expression and quiet, imaginative play.
24. Feels drained after parties or group activities, even when she enjoyed them.
Add up the True answers. If you tally between:
17-24 Trues: Your child is introverted. It is extremely important to understand how to help keep his energy flowing. He will need to conserve energy and spend it wisely in the outside world, and likely will need your help learning to do this. It's also important to show that you understand and accept his temperament.
9-16 Trues: Your child falls in the middle range. Like being able to use her right and left hand, your child is both introverted and extroverted. She may feel torn between needing to be alone and wanting to be out and about. Try to assess when she feels energized by outside activities and when she needs quiet time by herself to recharge, so that you can help her develop a schedule that is best for her.
1-8 Trues: Your child is extroverted. He is energized by people, activities, and things. Try to keep him busy, but also help teach him to value downtime and reflection.
If you're still not sure if the child (or any person) you are thinking about is an innie or an outie, ask yourself: Does he need to reduce stimulation by creating time alone (or with a special person) or to reflect in quiet in order to feel refreshed most of the time? If so, he is more introverted. It's not that innies don't enjoy being with people; it's just that they need time alone. Likewise, if a person tends to withdraw under stress, he is probably more introverted. If your child is generally peppy and craves outside activity with or without people most of the time, she is probably more extroverted.
Reprinted from The Hidden Gifts of the Introverted Child: Helping Your Child Thrive in an Extroverted World by Marti Olsen Laney, Psy.D. Copyright © 2005 Marti Olsen Laney, Psy.D. Published by Workman Publishing; December 2005;$14.95US/$19.95CAN; 0-7611-3524-3.
Marti Olsen Laney, Psy.D., is the author of The Introvert Advantage. A marriage and family therapist based in Portland, Oregon, she is one of America's foremost authorities on introversion. Please visit her website at www.theintrovertadvantage.com.