Basketball may be all the rage, but what if your kid just isn’t into team sports? It can be difficult to decide what kinds of activities are best for your child, especially if you’re raising an introvert.
I am raising three introverts, which comes as no surprise when we consider that both myself and my husband are introverts. Recently, my kids brought home a paper from school about signing up for a youth basketball team. Now, my kids enjoy shooting hoops at home, but is basketball the best activity for my creative introverts? Knowing my children’s needs for a slower-paced evening after school to recharge before the next day, I knew instinctively that adding nightly team practices and weekend games to their schedules would have the potential to wreak havoc on the family.
Introversion, or extraversion, is an inborn trait that directs part of everyone’s temperament. Many people liken extraverts as outgoing and introverts as shy, but it’s not nearly that simple. I’m an introvert, and I’m not shy. There are many introverts who enjoy social environments, just as there exists extraverts who struggle with social anxiety.
Moreover, introversion and extraversion sits on a continuum. We are all part introvert and extravert; just some of us are more so one than the other. And so it is with our children. For the most part, though, strong introverts share similar tendencies:
- Prefer one-on-one or small group social environments
- Are quiet in large social settings
- Are strong listeners, but need to think before they speak
- Have deep inner lives
- Prefer not show their emotions, though they have exceptional empathy and emotional intelligence
- Learn well through observing
- Prefers watching a game or activity before joining in
- Have high self-awareness
- Become easily overstimulated
- Recharge with alone time to focus inside themselves
- Seek quiet and solitude after school or other social events even if those activities were fun
- Do better in a slower-paced environment.
You may notice that your child gravitates towards activities of creative expression, which naturally unfolds out of their deep inner lives. Solitude is also a necessary prerequisite to innovation, allowing the brain to combine seemingly unrelated thoughts into new ideas. Introverts have all the ingredients for creativity.
When looking at the best activities for your introvert, watch your child for clues to his talents. Here five great activities for your introverted child:
It sounds counterintuitive that a child who doesn’t want to share her emotions, and prefers more intimate conversation, would enjoy drama. But drama is a natural creative expression for introverts because of their rich imaginations and great understanding of emotions owing to their deep inner lives and practice of observing others. Drama classes, taking a character role in a play, or reciting poetry, can help an introvert blossom.
Really, any kind of art falls into this category — drawing, painting, sculpting, Legos, chalk, etc. — but rather than following only predetermined instructions such as on Pinterest crafts or coloring books, let your child come up with their own creation. Art classes can give your child the best of both worlds — skill development, while allowing room for creative innovation.
At home, consider stocking your art cabinet with ribbon, paper plates, buttons, popsicle sticks, clothes pins, glue, glitter glue, markers, crayons, googly eyes, pipe cleaners, empty toilet paper rolls, small empty boxes, and just about anything else. And then let your child create whatever he wants.
Like with art, just about anything musical falls into this category — singing, playing an instrument, listening to music, and songwriting. Some children have a knack to pick up any instrument, from piano to bango, and learn to play it. Most need formal instruction. The piano or violin are both great instruments to begin with to learn music theory, but the standard school band instruments like the trumpet are good for kids who just want to learn to play an instrument.
Still, even listening to music — and building an appreciation for a variety of genres — builds creative connections in your child’s brain while tapping into his introvert tendencies.
Many introverts bond well to animals, because of their keen sense of empathy and ability to catch small details through observation. Consider getting your child a pet she can interact with, and she just may discover a hidden gift in being able to train animals. Dogs and cats are both great options, but so can guinea pigs, small parrots, and bearded dragons. If you have the room outside, consider a horse or even chickens.
5. Certain Sports
While some introverts really enjoy team sports, others can become easily overstimulated and drained by such sports as volleyball, football, hockey, and basketball. Introverts tend to do better with sports in smaller groups like tennis, slower-paced like golf, and solo like archery, dance, track, skiing, snowboarding, etc. Your child doesn’t have to be a star athlete; these are all good at promoting physical fitness, too.