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October 4, 2015 / 21 Tishri, 5776
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Quiet As A Mouse, Yet Brave As A Lion?


The reasons behind this phenomenon may include teachers overlooking students who are not active in the classroom and therefore failing to identify the gaps in their knowledge; alternatively the students could be struggling with math and reading and thus becoming withdrawn.

In addition to this academic issue, introverts also face problems when they enter the workforce. Most modern offices are laid out in a style that does not allow for personal space. Instead of enclosed individual offices, cubicles or open-plan offices are the norm. While teamwork thrives in these arenas, introverts will often struggle with the lack of personal space.

Parents of Introverts

Traditionally, extroversion is valued over introversion in our communities. We tell our children, “Don’t be shy.” We grade our students on class participation and sometimes take off point for not participating enough. We call silences in conversation “awkward pauses.” Perhaps, though, we need to figure out how to strike a balance with our children, teaching them the value of following their natural dispositions while occasionally pushing past their discomfort every now and then.

Some tips include:

Check in with teachers. Introverts are often overlooked in the classroom. But, if you sporadically check in with your child’s teacher, the teacher will know to look out for your child, even if he is quiet. This will ensure that his progress will be monitored.

Encourage moderate risks. What feels like an easy task for you might be a daring adventure for your child. Therefore, discuss with your child what feels comfortable for him or her and what slightly pushes limits. For instance, if your child refuses all playdates, suggest having a short playdate with only one other child in the comfort of your home. Then, create a signal for your child to let you know when he or she feels the playdate is over. Taking moderate risks will help your child become more at ease when he is forced into difficult situations.

Respect boundaries. Don’t push far beyond what is comfortable for your child. Listen to him if he says that he cannot do what you are asking of him in social situations.

Perhaps the main idea parents can take away from this article is that shy is not inherently bad. In fact, there are some wonderful things about being shy. Think about what Rosa Parks was able to accomplish. However, because shy children often float under the radar, just make sure someone is keeping track of them!

About the Author: An acclaimed educator and social skills ​specialist​, Mrs. Rifka Schonfeld has served the Jewish community for close to thirty years. She founded and directs the widely acclaimed educational program, SOS, servicing all grade levels in secular as well as Hebrew studies. A kriah and reading specialist, she has given dynamic workshops and has set up reading labs in many schools. In addition, she offers evaluations G.E.D. preparation, social skills training and shidduch coaching, focusing on building self-esteem and self-awareness. She can be reached at 718-382-5437 or at rifkaschonfeld@gmail.com.

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