Monday, March 14, 2016

Parenting A Spirited Child

One of our kids is all-in, all the time. He wakes up and goes to bed at high decibel and top speed. And, as Matt likes to joke, that's before we give him coffee. He's exhilarating and exhausting.

For the longest time, I've thought we couldn't hit an even keel with him because we weren't good enough or experienced enough parents. "If only...." I thought. If only were were more consistent or more understanding or more firm. It has often looked like other parents have it "easier," which, of course, I interpreted to mean that if we had it "hard" it had to be because of something that we were doing.

We've sought a variety of solutions for our easy-to-love but hard-to-parent child. Because I'm a reader, I often believe the solution to life's problems can be found in books. So I devoured parenting books. Some of them were good. Some of them were rubbish. None of them really said what we needed to hear.

Then I stumbled upon Mary Sheedy Kurcinka's Raising Your Spirited Child. I read the first few paragraphs of the first chapter and my eyes filled with tears. This woman got me. She was saying what I was living. Here's an excerpt: 

"The word that distinguishes spirited children from other children is more. They are normal children who are more intense, persistent, sensitive, perceptive, and uncomfortable with change than other children. All children possess these characteristics, but spirited kids possess them with a depth and range not available to other children. Spirited kids are the Super Ball in a room full of rubber balls. Other kids bounce three feet off the ground. Every bounce for a spirited child hits the ceiling.

It’s difficult to describe what it is like to be the parent of a spirited child. The answer keeps changing; it depends on the day, even the moment. How does one describe the experience of sliding from joy to exasperation in seconds, ten times a day."  Raising Your Spirited Child

Sheeny is careful to say that the term "spirited child" is a designation for understanding a temperament, not an excuse for poor behavior.
Her book and its accompanying oh, so practical workbook, Raising Your Spirited Child Workbook, have been a wonderful resource for us. If you have a spirited child and haven't checked these books out, get them now! 

You can also read the post I wrote over at Scary Mommy, Four Reminders For Discouraged Parents

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