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Parents of "spirited" children... anyone out there? - Page 5

post #81 of 112
Joining in here too! I have three kids: dd (8) started out quite spirited, but pretty much outgrew it. Ds2 (3) is the lovely, laid-back third child. Life with these would be a piece of cake, literally. Then you throw Ds1 (6), into the mix - he is my spirited child. SIGH.

Like everyone else's child, he is intense in every way. His intensity isn't so much physical though as it is emotional. He feels and react to things SO intensely. As we've started homeschooling, I've learned that - surprise surprise - he also learns intensely. Meaning, he absorbs material quickly and efficiently...but only for short periods of time. Whatever I can fit in in 10-15 minute chunks of time is good!

He's also big on control. He wants to be in control of everything that affects him, and resists strongly when asked to comply or conform with something that is not in his agenda. On the flip side, when he DOES adopt something into his agenda, it's there forever and you'd better not mess with it! He'd probably do really well on a strict schedule, because then he would always know what was going to happen, when. Alas, we are not terribly structured, scheduled people, but I try to accommodate him.

Those are my two big issues now - dealing with his emotional intensity (e.g., how do you stop him from hitting when he feels wronged?) and his need for control.
post #82 of 112
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mere View Post
Joining in here too! I have three kids: dd (8) started out quite spirited, but pretty much outgrew it. Ds2 (3) is the lovely, laid-back third child. Life with these would be a piece of cake, literally. Then you throw Ds1 (6), into the mix - he is my spirited child. SIGH.

Like everyone else's child, he is intense in every way. His intensity isn't so much physical though as it is emotional. He feels and react to things SO intensely. As we've started homeschooling, I've learned that - surprise surprise - he also learns intensely. Meaning, he absorbs material quickly and efficiently...but only for short periods of time. Whatever I can fit in in 10-15 minute chunks of time is good!

He's also big on control. He wants to be in control of everything that affects him, and resists strongly when asked to comply or conform with something that is not in his agenda. On the flip side, when he DOES adopt something into his agenda, it's there forever and you'd better not mess with it! He'd probably do really well on a strict schedule, because then he would always know what was going to happen, when. Alas, we are not terribly structured, scheduled people, but I try to accommodate him.

Those are my two big issues now - dealing with his emotional intensity (e.g., how do you stop him from hitting when he feels wronged?) and his need for control.
My spirited ds also has a May birthday. We went through a very rough spot last year where he was lashing out and hitting me A LOT. I did not deal with it well, at all. I would talk to him afterwards and tell him: "It's ok to be angry, but it is NOT ok to hit me." and then we would talk about what IS ok to do when angry. Stomping feet, screaming into a pillow, hitting a pillow, using his words, etc. Repeat ad nauseum. What really helped us though, was a suggestion that I came across on another forum...I got an old shoe box and dubbed it his "Angry box", and put things in it that could help him work through his anger in a respectful way. Scraps of paper for him to rip up or angrily scribble on, and modeling clay to pound. For probably a month after that, he would get angry, and I would remind him as he would be swinging at me: "Go to your angry box!" to no avail. Just when I was beginning to lose hope, we were having a bit of a rough morning one day, and I could tell the tension was starting to build when he suddenly went to his angry box, and a few minutes later brought me a picture and said: "Look mom, I was angry" --showed me angry scribbles "And now I feel better" flipped the paper over to show me a happy face. I was like: "YES!!!!" He used it one or two other times and has now pretty much outgrown that stage(knocking on wood)...sometimes when he's angry now he'll go to hit me, restrain himself and kinda push me a little bit. Still not the perfect scenario but so much better than it was.
post #83 of 112
LOVE the idea of an angry box.... . I'm stealing it and making one this weekend. (Oh, I wish I had this idea last year when DD2 was born).....
~maddymama
post #84 of 112
Glad you like the idea Maddymama, I hope it helps you guys.
post #85 of 112
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mama*pisces View Post
I got an old shoe box and dubbed it his "Angry box", and put things in it that could help him work through his anger in a respectful way. Scraps of paper for him to rip up or angrily scribble on, and modeling clay to pound. For probably a month after that, he would get angry, and I would remind him as he would be swinging at me: "Go to your angry box!" to no avail. Just when I was beginning to lose hope, we were having a bit of a rough morning one day, and I could tell the tension was starting to build when he suddenly went to his angry box, and a few minutes later brought me a picture and said: "Look mom, I was angry" --showed me angry scribbles "And now I feel better" flipped the paper over to show me a happy face.
How AWESOME! Thank you for posting that idea. I'm going to try that with my 5yo. We need *something* to help us. We're in a bad patch right now. (Lots of exploding temper tantrums and intense emotions).
post #86 of 112
The angry box - I like it! It's a great idea for when we are home, but what about, say, the car? If anyone has any good ideas for how to deal with anger when sitting 1mm away from your sibling, I'd love to hear it...
post #87 of 112
Hmm...keep a pad of paper and a pen in the car so he can scribble/write an angry note? The main thing, I think, is to try to give him acceptable/positive outlets for his anger. Focus on what he can do instead of what he isn't allowed to do.Tell him he can use his words to state how he feels, as long as those words aren't meant to be hurtful towards anyone... from what I can tell, if little kids aren't given specific examples of acceptable behavior(again and again and again...), they fall back on their instinct to hit, bite, pinch whoever they are angry with.

I know how you feel, at least to some extent! It's beyond difficult when you are trying your hardest to stick to your discipline guns in the face of getting hit(or watching your other child get hit...). I hope you find a solution soon!
post #88 of 112
Quote:
Originally Posted by mama*pisces View Post
Hmm...keep a pad of paper and a pen in the car so he can scribble/write an angry note? The main thing, I think, is to try to give him acceptable/positive outlets for his anger. Focus on what he can do instead of what he isn't allowed to do.Tell him he can use his words to state how he feels, as long as those words aren't meant to be hurtful towards anyone... from what I can tell, if little kids aren't given specific examples of acceptable behavior(again and again and again...), they fall back on their instinct to hit, bite, pinch whoever they are angry with.
I totally agree...I really try to focus in on what he CAN do. It is generally much more effective. However, his emotions are so brief and intense that I'm afraid that the pen might end up being used as a weapon rather than an instrument for venting . Audio books playing constantly have really helped distract everyone in the car, but those flare-ups are hard to control when they happen. I find myself resorting to punishment-type threats I'm afraid (they get assigned an extra cleaning job). I don't feel great about doing that, but when rationale talk doesn't work I don't know what else to turn to.

On a different note, does anyone else have issues with extreme persistence and rule-testing? I try to keep it simple and not have that many rules in our house - just the basic ones to ensure safety and respect - but ds still has to test those rules. Every. Single. Day. I feel like he is ALWAYS on the lookout for the one time when I am going to be off my guard and not correct him, which of course to him would be equivalent to an endorsement on my part to do (or not do) the activity in question whenever he wanted (and then I would have to work 100 times harder to re-establish that rule). A lot of the time I feel like he and I are in a pack of dogs, and I have to consistently be able to prove my alpha-dog status with him, otherwise he'll just take off and do whatever he wants and have no respect for others. I already see this with dh a bit, who sometimes is tired and just doesn't feel like enforcing the rules and following through to the extent that ds requires. Ds therefore feels (and has said) that I am the boss of the house and therefore much of the un-fun enforcement tasks (e.g. brushing teeth, going to bed in a timely fashion) fall on me.

I'm sure I will come through ds' childhood a much better, more patient person....right?
post #89 of 112
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mere View Post
A lot of the time I feel like he and I are in a pack of dogs, and I have to consistently be able to prove my alpha-dog status with him, otherwise he'll just take off and do whatever he wants and have no respect for others. I already see this with dh a bit, who sometimes is tired and just doesn't feel like enforcing the rules and following through to the extent that ds requires. Ds therefore feels (and has said) that I am the boss of the house and therefore much of the un-fun enforcement tasks (e.g. brushing teeth, going to bed in a timely fashion) fall on me.

I'm sure I will come through ds' childhood a much better, more patient person....right?
Well, I hope so because I too hope to get through this a better person! Cannot say that I am anywhere near being patient on most days....for the life of me, I have no idea why some things bother me so much that I get intensely angry. Perhaps it has to do with hanging on the end of my rope most of the time???

I am also the rule enforcer because I am the main caregiver, with the two all the freaking time. Also my husband has gotten into this rather annoying (for me and son) habit of over-explaining the rules. He's 3 - he isn't able to process paragraphs of information even if he had a calm, stable mind.

I have no idea what to do during this current cycle of rule-testing. I am over-relying on timeout, which doesn't work anyway. I thought I was getting somewhere today when, in his 3rd timeout, he actually came to me ON HIS OWN and apologized for breaking the rule. However, a few hours later, he spent two hours in timeout and would not apologize. I think he also forgot what he did that got him in timeout.

I find a lot of my trouble comes from the need to have 'complicated' rules. I try to keep it simple but if the rule is 'We do not hurt other people,' how do I relate that to hitting his sister, taking a toy away from his sister, kicking me while thrashing about, screaming at the top of his lungs, running away with a forbidden object, etc. There are sooooooo many little things that I do not want him to do but I cannot figure out how to make a few simple rules that absolutely apply to everything AND that he will understand apply to everything. Does that make sense?

I can hardly wait until his sister is old enough to start testing......
post #90 of 112
Ariatrance, I too try to keep it simple! As far as how to keep the rules simple, I have a few (e.g., don't hurt other people, act respectful, be safe) and then I pretty much constantly have to tell my spirited child (just him, mind you, not my other two) that whatever he just did hurts people, or is not respectful, or not safe. I try to give him a warning the first time and let him know that whatever he did does not fit within our rules and why (very simply - b/c it's not respectful, or whatever) and then if he does it again he either gets a time out or a cleaning job. I'm not a big time out fan either, but I have to do something! Time outs were okay when he was young, but cleaning jobs are more effective now that he is older (and he's learning some new skills around the house to boot!).

This is my mantra: keep it simple, be consistent....repeat 1 million times.

One thing I've noticed too about ds1's "testing" behavior: he'll test something we do on a consistent basis (say, some routine bit of schoolwork), throw a fit about it, I say the same predictable thing over and over a few times, he takes a minute to compose himself, and then he's fine. He often even does the task he was just tantruming over quite happily! It's like he just wanted to test me to make sure I was going to be consistent...it's bizarre. He does stuff like that quite often. Take home message to me: take his tantrums and fits with a grain of salt.
post #91 of 112
Joining. My Ds1 seems to be spirited... and I'm apparently a "spirited parent"...
post #92 of 112
I'm in. My son is highly spirited.

I feel as though I'm always exhausted. zzzzzzz
post #93 of 112
Hi all :My friend is at her wits end with her 18mon old DD. She seems to fit the 'spirited' description. My friend asks me for advice and I'm at a loss for what to tell her because my DD was nothing like hers at the same age. Do you think the RYSC book would be helpful for her and her 18 mon old at this point?
post #94 of 112
Quote:
Originally Posted by CuddleBug'sMama View Post
Hi all :My friend is at her wits end with her 18mon old DD. She seems to fit the 'spirited' description. My friend asks me for advice and I'm at a loss for what to tell her because my DD was nothing like hers at the same age. Do you think the RYSC book would be helpful for her and her 18 mon old at this point?
I don't....I started reading the RYSC book when DS was about that age, and found that I couldn't really relate to it. There are a few questionares in there that you can use to find out approximately where your dc is on the "spirited" scale, but alot of the questions are geared towards older children. I found the book a lot more helpful when ds was 3.
post #95 of 112
I don't know...as I read RYSC when ds was 5.5, I remember thinking to myself, "I already know most of this, but I had to figure out it the hard way..."

While it's true that you much of it won't apply to an 18mo...YET!...it soon will, and I think there area ideas you could start to put into practice. Most of the quizzes and what not won't fit because you don't know how your dd's personality is going to shape up.
post #96 of 112
I agree that it probably won't be helpful for your friend right now. My DS is 1 and although the book will be a GREAT resource in a few years, it is no help right now.

What kind of problems is your friend having? I'm begining to realize that for DS, no matter the situation, it can be resolved in a heartbeat by taking him outside. The boy loves the outdoors!

Anyway, feel free to PM me if you want. I would love to have someone to commiserate with for the next few years.
post #97 of 112
"the happiest toddler on the block" methods worked well with my spirited child at 18 months... maybe it would help her?
post #98 of 112
I agree with the above statements about RYSC. However, it might help to know if she is trying to compare herself to the other parents she sees (at parks, playgrounds, playgroups, etc.). She is most likely going to be the only parent who has to get off her butt, interact constantly, and run after her child. It is very hard to do that AND compare yourself to all the other parents who just casually tell their kid to knock it off and the kid complies, who never have to jump up at full speed because their kid just took off for the parking lot, who can practically ignore their kid because their kid is ignoring them, etc. There is no comparison. The parent of a spirited child has to be a proactive, alert, interactive parent - it is not for the weak and lazy or faint-hearted. Unfortunately, it is usually the spirited child that makes his/her parent strong, active and big-hearted through lots of trials and tribulations.

BUT (being smug here) I think my spirited children are better than other, non-spirited kids in that they are sooooooooooo alive, joyful, and creative. They never stop because they want to absorb everything this life and world has to offer. Who wants to diminish that?! I'd love to be half as energetic and joyful about life as they are just waking up!

I'm so hopeful (some days) that when the kids are older, this heart-wrenchingly difficult time will payoff in so many beautiful ways. And she should be too!
post #99 of 112
My dh is out of town and ds is a dady's boy. Ds (21 months) is not handling it well. He's waking up at 2 with I assume are nightmares. Screaming until he gags, totally tense body etc. Then at 6 he's up for the day. It's like he's manic with his activity level. I know transitions are hard for him and he's uber-sensitive. I am so so exhausted.
post #100 of 112
I sympathize - transitions are the worst. Now that ds is older (6) it helps tremendously if I can prepare him ahead of time, but even with that there is still drama. It's very tiring. Hang in there!

Just this morning I realized that we having been struggling with a transition and I didn't even realize it...it's been more of a 'pre-transition' if you will. Ds has been doing a lot of whining when it comes to his schoolwork (which we do in a very established routine, same every day, usually not a problem). After suffering through several days of this, I realized that he is probably reacting to the fact that we are about to go on a two-week trip and his whole schedule is going to be disrupted. ....he is so much more sensitive to stuff like that than my other two. In looking back, I *should have* prepped him a week or two ago (when he started counting down the days until we leave) that while I know he's excited about the trip, we are still going to do homework like always but then we won't do it on the trip. Making repeated simple statements like that really helps him adjust to what's coming, but of course you can't always foresee everything!
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