Success as an Introvert For Dummies
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Are you raising an introverted child? If so, you know your innie hates being in the spotlight. And he or she really, really hates having to stand in front of the whole class and give a presentation.

What's interesting is that introverted kids often create the best presentations. That's because they dive into their research with gusto, so they're likely to do a great job of exploring their topics. As a result, they're frequently better prepared and more knowledgeable than their extroverted peers. However, most introverted kids would rather face a firing squad than an audience. So on presentation day, they're likely to be a bundle of nerves.

Fortunately, you can help your introverted child avoid horrible moments like these. All it takes is a lot of empathy and a little work. Here's what to do:

  • Encourage your child to practice, practice, practice. First, have your little one give the presentation in front of a mirror. Then have your child give it to you. After that, add another family member or friend to the audience.

  • As your child gives the presentation, think of questions you can ask about it. This will prepare your child to field any questions kids ask in class.

  • Teach your child to breathe correctly. This is very important! Shallow breathing is an invitation to panic. Proper breathing, on the other hand, will help your child relax and speak clearly. So give your child these instructions: "Place one hand at the top of your stomach, just below the ribs, so you can feel your diaphragm. Now breathe in through your nose, imagining the air filling your stomach and flowing toward your back. Your diaphragm should expand out. When you breathe out, your diaphragm should move back in. Your shoulders shouldn't move when you're breathing." Have your child practice correct breathing every day until it becomes a habit.

  • Help your child visualize success. Have your child picture himself acing each major point in the presentation and getting a big round of applause at the end. It's a good idea to do this visualization activity daily during the week before the presentation.

Of course, even if you follow all of these suggestions, there's a small chance that your angel's presentation will completely bomb. But even in that case, you can help out:

  • Share stories about your own public speaking disasters, either as a child or as an adult. Your child will realize that we all have experiences like this, and we survive them.

  • Put the event in perspective. Don't dismiss your child's embarrassment or tears because she's entitled to her feelings. Let her vent her emotions, and acknowledge them. But after you empathize with her, remind her about the good things in her life — for instance, an upcoming camping trip or the sleepover she's planning with her friends.

  • Consider salving your child's wounds with a new book, video game, or outfit. For kids, the healing power of new goodies can be amazing.

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