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Parents of "spirited" children... anyone out there?

post #1 of 112
Thread Starter 
I just keep thinking that somewhere there should be a spot specifically for parents of spirited children. I have two girls, 5yo and 2yo. My 5yo is a classic spirited child. When I read the description in Raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, I felt like she was writing about my daughter. I had no idea there were other kids out there like this. (The book was SUCH a relief!)

I know no one IRL who is the parent of a spirited child.

Some days are amazing - I love how much DD1 is a part of her world and how even the tiniest little thing or event can change her whole day. And other days it is enormously frustrating that the tiniest little thing or event can change everything. I am always looking for more ways to help her get through the rough spots, and ways to help me maintain my cool in those moments when I start wishing she was a more mellow kid. And sometimes I just want to commiserate with other parents who have BTDT - those days when I feel like I'm the parent in the group that the other parents are shaking their heads at, thinking "that mom really needs to get control over her kid."

So I'd like to propose a thread to create a community for parents of spritied children. We can swap stories, both good and bad, offer support, give each other book recommendations, etc.

Is anyone in?

(Does such a thread already exsist? If so, please tell me where to find it!)
post #2 of 112
Im keen:-)
I have three boys, 4 1/2, 2 1/2 and 5 months.

My eldest is a very bright, quick thinking, 'spirited child.
After months (years!) of denial that he was not alike many children we know, its a relief to begin to accept his nature and not fight it any more.
We initiated some bad habits of control and resistance that we are trying to break and form a more love based approach to 'discipline', if you can call it that :-)

Some days are great- hes humorous, curious (heaps of why and how questions) energetic and lots of fun to be round. Other days I wish we could go back to bed and start again. He needs constant engagement, when hes engaged hes lovely and all his good qualities come out.

How do other mamas help thier spirited children how to be loving and gentle with siblings?
post #3 of 112
Hello mamas. There are threads in parenting about this so I am moving this thread there.
post #4 of 112
Thread Starter 
There must be more mamas of spirited kids out there!!

The sibling thing is tricky! My kids are close in age to your two oldest kids. They just turned 5yo and 2yo. They can fight like the best of them!!

My best days are those when I find ways for DD1 (my spirited one) to be helpful with her little sister. Just little stuff, like if we're in a non-busy parking lot I'll ask her to hold her sister's hand while they cross to the sidewalk. And I'll walk a little behind them so she doesn't feel like I'm on top of her, monitoring every move. This type of thing channels DD1's energy into something she can see is important and useful but also gives her some great positive interaction with her sister. It helps that DD2 totally looks up to her older sister and will willingly hold her hand (did I just jinx myself?)

It also helps that often DD1 can tell what DD2 is saying or what she needs more than I can. The other day DD2 was saying she wanted what sounded like "A cat! A cat!" over and over. I had no idea what it meant until DD2 translated (A "SNACK!").

When that happens I think it strengthens the bond between my girls because they see that they understand each other. I've realized that often if I'm not sure what DD2 wants, DD1 is totally in tune with her and knows (sometimes for obvious reasons, I'm not sitting in the back seat of the car so I haven't noticed that she dropped her fav toy). But if DD1 can feel like she's in tune with her sister it makes her much more likely to get along with her.

About siblings: Any advice on how to balance parental attention to siblings??? I feel like I spend SO much time trying to channel DD1's energy, or dealing with her mood swings, that DD2 gets lost in the shuffle. DD2 is very happy-go-lucky so she doesn't react badly to it. But the inbalance in attention drives me crazy!!
post #5 of 112
I'm subscribing! I have a 5 year old ds and 4 year old dd. They are both active, but the dd is the truly spirited one. She needs so much stimulation and engagement to keep her happy. When she is engaged, she is just the sweetest child. It's just hard to do that all.day.long.

Thankfully my kids are 18 months apart, and play together. When my son goes to school dd is constantly asking me to play with her.
post #6 of 112
Personally I think all kids are spirited at some point or another. I don't really understand the desire to label a child spirited - isn't that just being a child?

(and yes I understand "spirited" - I have two who are bipolar so they are spirited, and then some! I just don't like the term being used for regular childhood behaviour)
post #7 of 112
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Heavenly View Post
Personally I think all kids are spirited at some point or another. I don't really understand the desire to label a child spirited - isn't that just being a child?

(and yes I understand "spirited" - I have two who are bipolar so they are spirited, and then some! I just don't like the term being used for regular childhood behaviour)
I guess maybe I should have been more specific. When I say "spirited" I'm not talking about the regular use of the word, I'm refering to it the way it is used by in the book "Raising your Spirited Child" by Kurcinka.

I understand what you are saying - that being spirited is a normal part of childhood. I really hope that all kids are "spirited" in the normal sense of the word.

But what I am looking for a community of parents who have children who fall under Kurcinka's description of spirited. She uses it as a positive way of describing children who otherwise are often referred to in negative ways ("difficult" "strong-willed" etc). "Research shows that spirited kids are wired to be "more"—by temperament, they are more intense, sensitive, perceptive, persistent, and uncomfortable with change than the average child."

I know no one in real life whose child(ren) are as spirited as DD1. She is extreme in all her wonderful, surprising ways. Often the "normal" advice for parenting doesn't work for her. I think parents of similar children might have helpful advice to offer each other!
post #8 of 112
Me! I'm in this group. DD1 (who just turned 4) is off the chart spirited.... I also have DD2 who just turned a year. I love the RYSC book, it changed my life. I actually continually re-read it. I read it (for about 10-15 minutes) each night, wait a week or two after I finish it, and then start again. Each time I read it, DD1 is at a different stage of development, or something new is an issue, and I get a new way to look at her behavior. It also helps me see her improvement, bc I look at my notes on her behavior prior to trying some of the ideas, and then can see how much better it is now!
One of our hard spots was a year ago when DD2 arrived, it threw DD1 for a huge loop. Now it's much better.
DD1 goes to a montessori school during the school year, but is home with me for the summer. She loves school, and is continually "underchallenged" during the summer with me.... even though I'm working my rear end off trying to continually keep her occupied (mentally and physically). One big hit we had recently was that she has a BAD swimmer's ear infection, so no swimming right now to wear her out. And it's wayyyy toooo hot to take her to the playgrounds... so I'm having trouble wearing out her energy right now. Any ideas? She does start to randomly run laps around the house in the afternoon, but it's not enough.....
post #9 of 112
Oh, has anyone read Playful Parenting? I keep downloading the sample to my Kindle, but not buying it. Is it a good "companion" to RYSC?
post #10 of 112
I have a spirited, I never realized there was such a thing until I came on here about 2 years ago and started reading and posting about my crazy girl. I was directed to Raising Your Spirited Child after and incident at Home Depot with DD and DH when I was 5 months preggo with #2. Reading that book changed my whole thought process of why and how DD processes and acts on her emotions. I always sat and watched other kids who were at the park, farmer's market, beach etc....and they just would SIT there Here I was with a CRAZY, running as fast as she could trying to jump in the river toddler who NEVER sat still.

That book really made things better for me, fortunately I do know other kids like her, her cousin and another boy are both very similar. What we found is activities have to be rigorous, like skiing, swimming, running, jumping. She is also VERY dramatic and highly verbal.

Now for us having a second child has been pivotal in DD's development, it actually helped her immensely. Recently Dh and I both went back to work that sent her for a loop and she was horrid again for a few weeks. We've had to adjust how we parent her multiple times. Defend her from relatives who think she has ADHD or something, been judged by people thinking we give her too much sugar(she barely gets any, ever). I was once accosted in the grocery store when she was a young toddler by an elderly couple for her screeching(they thought she was mentally ill).

The last year has been much better turning 3 and being more able to articulate her needs has been wonderful and having her brother has made life better in many ways. She is now almost 4 and she has herr days, but her toddler days were like crazy-ville every day, it's not as bad or intense. That could be because I know now what to do when I see this happening or her maturity.

I feel ya mamas.
post #11 of 112
Originally Posted by Heavenly View Post
Personally I think all kids are spirited at some point or another. I don't really understand the desire to label a child spirited - isn't that just being a child?

(and yes I understand "spirited" - I have two who are bipolar so they are spirited, and then some! I just don't like the term being used for regular childhood behaviour)
My DD is above and beyond the normal "spirited". The book Raising Your Spirited Child has many definitions of spirited, I have a very extroverted spirited little girl, she DEMANDS attention nearly 24/7. It is honestly completely and totally draining at times, she sucks my energy out.

There is a normal amount of being an active child and then there are children in the spirited camp be it introverted or extroverted, their energy exceeds the "norm".
post #12 of 112
My boys are both "spirited" too. They do everything twice as fast, twice as loud and twice as intensely as many of their peers. This includes feelings and emotions, concentration and play. I keep buying copies of "Raising your spirited child" to give to their teachers! LOL
post #13 of 112
I just started reading RYSC tonight and I have honestly been crying- how could she have written about by DD1 10 years before she was born! I don't know any kids like my DD1 and reading the book has been a breath of fresh air. I'm only one section in and already I want everyone who interacts with her to read it so they will stop making fun of the way she acts (in their 'trying to be funny' sort of way).
post #14 of 112
I have a very spirited 5 yo (getting ready to turn 6).

Those two books helped immensly. I always thought his personality was so accentuated to me because of my introversion/shyness, but he def. hits all the markers...identified by me and his teaching community.

Playful Parenting works WONDERS with him in almost all situations. We had some really, really rough days until I veered from mainstream parenting techniques.
Spirited children just do not conform to "typical" molding techniques!! Lol. ..at least not mine!!

Once I brought this up with his daycare teacher she had a much, much, much easier time of getting him to comply with classroom rules.

Yeah, I think most of his behavior is age just typical, but the way he goes about reconciling consequences and his thought process for deciding to "conform" is certainly attuned to being spirited.
KWIM? Maybe I'm saying it wrong....I hope you get what I mean.
post #15 of 112
My 2 yr old DS is intense, and I knew he was "spirited" early on as an infant. Like others have said, it's not the label that is important as much as how it directs our parenting.

When we are out my DS will happily refuse to eat or inhale 2 bites as his feet are back on the ground to run & play. It's like the world is not enough, he wants MORE! Other kids will happily sit & eat their snack while DS is squirming away asking to play.
Some call him "hyper", but really he has incredible focus.....when he wants. For example, he loves books. He will sit still for us to read books, and he loves to dissect, read along etc. For the most part he'd rather be running, jumping, being dramatic etc.
He is nothing like any kids his age, and other parents notice it - he is way more intense & verbal.

He is actually very polite, and gentle which is wonderful, but his voice volume & energy can make it seem like he's misbehaving.

When he melts....he melts BIG!!

He talks, non-stop, until he closes his eyes to sleep. He wants me to talk with him & play with him all.day.long. He is very social though, so other kid time is important. Transitions to new places/people take time, people often think he's a "clingy mama's boy" (to which I always clarify that he just needs time) while he takes his time assessing the situation before he unleashes his energy.

We do a lot of playful parenting type things. I know that he can't sit still at a library storytime (even though he loves books at home & will sit), or stay still for a craft activity - so I plan our activities differently. I allow for lot's of outdoor time, large energy activities etc. etc. I allow him the time he needs for transitions.

He luckily has a little 3 yr old friend who is very similar so it's nice for their energies to match and watch them explore the world. It also gives us moms some time to swap what works/doesn't for our little bundles of energy (as we are constantly out of our seats trying to keep them safe of course )
post #16 of 112
Yup. I'm in.
post #17 of 112
Originally Posted by springmum View Post
It's like the world is not enough, he wants MORE!
Some call him "hyper", but really he has incredible focus.....when he wants.

He is nothing like any kids his age, and other parents notice it - he is way more intense & verbal.

He is actually very polite, and gentle which is wonderful, but his voice volume & energy can make it seem like he's misbehaving.

When he melts....he melts BIG!!

He talks, non-stop, until he closes his eyes to sleep. He wants me to talk with him & play with him all.day.long.

YES!! These points exactly!!

I try to keep the positives in mind. Geez, when this kid is determined to do something his is AMAZING!
post #18 of 112
I have not read these books, but I always find myself having to justify my son's behaviour. No, he will not sit still at school, please let him kneel on the chair, slouch over the desk, get up 15 times to sharpen his pencil. It will be less disrupting than calling him to order every other minute. And his schoolwork is above par if you let him be. He will be running through the supermarket aisles, but productively, he fetches things for me . He talks all the time, so fast he is sometimes hard to follow. He sings, makes sounds, talks to himself all the time. He is a 7yo rapper with a surreal sense of humour so his constant chatter is often very entertaining.

The saddest thing is his frustration at not getting along with most other children. He is hugely sociable, but I see that he wears other kids out with his energy and restlessness and talkativeness and, weak point, his touchiness. Paradoxically he gets along much better with adults - he is engaging and bright and conversational and really interested in building relationships. But adults are only fun for talking to, to play you need other children.

I have told him his engine runs at 1000 rpm while most other people are running at 100, it is an image that apeals to him and helps him make peace with why everyone is always telling him to calm down, be still, be quiet.

We are in the process of learning some self control. Longer stretches of sitting at his place in school or at mealtimes. Please do not answer all the questions the teacher asks, leave some for the other kids as well. Keep to your turn. Don't interrupt. That sort of thing.

What I hate is when people tell him he is "too" this or that. Too talkative. Too agitated. Too boisterous. I stress to him that he is just fine the way he is, he needs awareness and consideration to accomodate the "slower" people around him, but there is nothing in him that needs changing.
post #19 of 112
it didnt occur to me that my dd was spirited until i started noticing differences in other babies as she got older. i thought ALL babies needed to be held most of the time. and that ALL babies nursed as frequently as she did.. it wasnt until she was one or so did someone mention to me about her being "spirited."

from about 2 months on, she has always wanted to be the life of the party. she is SO much fun. she is very extroverted and definitely requires lots of attention. fortunately, she is pretty good at playing by herself at times. but ive given up on library story times or anything that "forces" her to be still and quiet.

right now im struggling with bedtime, her being an extremely picky eater, and toliet training. she will be 3 soon and naturally she screams 'no' every time i try to get her to sit on the potty seat. ive tried (almost) EVERYTHING and it doesnt work. i cant get her to sit there for the life of me. any suggestions from you experienced parents??
post #20 of 112
Hello. My name is Amanda. I am a spirited mom to a spirited 3 year old son and a spirited 1 year old daughter. I am pooped!

I have started Raising Your Spirited Child but have not finished it. A few months ago, when I had the book suggested to me, I got lost in my own 'mental drama' and couldn't focus on reading it in order to help my kids. So now I have it on hold at the library and plan to read it through this time.

I am just starting to get a handle on what a daily schedule needs to look like for these two. We have to be at a playground/playdate within 2 hours of waking up or the whole day is shot. Both must spend at least 2 hours, if not 4, physically releasing their energy before the day can 'truly' start. I am (still) learning how to squeeze all of the stuff I was doing before into a 4-5 hour day. However, having spent a good deal of energy, both kids respond beautifully for the rest of the day. We can be such a team, errands go smoothly, playtime at home goes smoothly, everyone is nicer to each other, everyone gets to the potty on time, etc. All this because the excess energy is gone and they (and I) can collect our minds and focus on the task at hand.

It is so exhausting, especially since I am an introverted, spirited person. Most of my excess energy is channeled into mental and emotional, rather than physical, outlets. I also am trying to recover from adrenal fatigue and that is a slow process.

Anyway. I too have no contacts with spirited children. It is so hard to be the only one at playdates having to actually interact and run after my children. That doesn't sound good, but I think you know what I mean. Just last week, a mother was trying to commiserate with me about how energetic her kids were - these kids who could be pushed around in a stroller for an hour (exercise walk) and then go home to an hour nap. Yeah.....that's not energetic in my book. I did discover, though, that my kids cannot sit in the stroller for an hour first thing in the morning, so I'm trying to figure out how to get in some serious exercise time when I'm with the kids all day, every day. (Any suggestions?)

I have found that 1-2-3 works well for G. I started out by telling him, before counting, that if he didn't complete the task by the time I counted to 3, then I would help him finish. (This isn't punitive, just me helping him get it done, like putting his shorts on.) Because he is in a do-it-myself stage, this works wonders! He races to get the task done before 3 and just giggles the whole time. Now, I don't really have to explain anymore. I state the task I would like him to do and if he starts dawdling or gets distracted, I say "1." Make sense??

I need to stop writing now and go to bed. So nice to find others out there!
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