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Define "Spirited."

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
I have read Dr. Sears' "...High Needs Child." I've read "Raising Your Spirited Child."

To clue you in, I read Dr. Sears' book when DS1 was a mere 3 months old. Call it mother's intuition.

Here we are at 2.5, & I can't help but play the comparison game. He's SO rambunctious. I look around a room of 10 kids about his age (story time at the library, for instance), and he's the only one swinging from ceiling light fixtures.

So, in the interest of either confirming that he is, in fact, spirited, or perhaps just a typical toddler boy, I am hungry for your take on the whole "spirited" tag. Examples of behaviors or challenges would be of great comfort to me.

I feel like my AP'ing has created a monster.
post #2 of 8
If you've read raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Kurcinka ,you know the way she uses the term it means the child has more intense personality traits that can make parenting challenging. There is actually a temperament trait test where you can identify whether your child is 'spirited' and then several of the chapters give you advice on how to adapt your expectations and parenting methods to deal with your childs specific temperament traits. Your DS sounds very high energy. As he develops impulse control he be able to focus better and do indoor group activities. My DD is very high energy, intense, and perceptive. We stopped going to indoor group activities and restaurants for about a year with DD. Hiking, going to playgrounds, anything outside or involving climbing were much better. She started being able to be still long enough for a story at abit after turning 3. As for comparing to other kids, my DD, almost 5 now, still takes breaks from playing at a playground to literally run around. On the bright side she doesn't complain when we're on a 3 or 4 mile hike and when she needs to move around during dinner she offers to get us more water or gets everyone extra napkins. The perceptiveness means she's distractable, but she notices things before any of the rest of us and can help find things really well.

AP parenting doesn't create a child's temperament. Being in a nurturing environment, having their needs met and being accepted as they are can help a child feel good about their self and reach their potential as a person. A happy secure child behaves better than one that feels stressed. With my DD, her exuberance and need to move, make noise and climb made her seem like a wild undomesticated little creature. As she got older and developed impulse control and a desire to be socially appropriate she became more able to be still and focus. For example going to a baseball game when she was 3.5 meant we got up about 20 times to walk around and also played at the playground for abit. This summer she got up 2 or 3 times the entire game each time we went. So things do get better and easier. Read the Your Spirited Child by Mary Kurcinka again. It's got lots of practical advice. Kurcinka's Kids Parents and Power Struggles is really good too.
post #3 of 8


there's your answer.
post #4 of 8
Thread Starter 
I intend to revisit Kurcinka's book again. I'm currently enjoying Becoming the Parent You Want to Be, which is a wealth of perspective for the toddler stage.

Thanks so much for your input, ssh. The perceptiveness is definitely one of his key characteristics. He makes connections (often to other people, friends, etc.) that take me several minutes to unravel. For instance, we had a playdate w/a pal he doesn't see very often. Unfortunately, their car went on the fritz & they couldn't make it. I told him we would have to plan for another day, saying her car was broken. He was very disappointed. REALLY, surprisingly disappointed as I didn't think he remembered her much less be so upset about not seeing her. Over a month later, I told him we were going to see her. And he says: "Car working." Once I realized what he meant, I was momentarily stunned.

You describe perfectly the accommodations we make for DS's personality. He thrives outdoors. I've invested in serious rain gear for all three of us (DS2 at 1 year old) so we could play outside even in unfavorable weather. I don't bother much buying toys for him, in fact, because I know that unless it moves him or he can move IT (cars/trucks/ride-ons), owning it is pointless.He devours books, but he does so while ricocheting off walls as we read to him, or while already picking out the next book to read.

I blame AP'ing in jest, mostly. I hear my mother's voice sometimes, with the "you-better-nip-that-in-the-bud" philosophy she loves to hit me over the head with during his finest hours. All the freedom (the kind that would scare most conventional families) that we've granted him, the tailoring of his environment to meet his needs (goodbye wrought iron coffee table, hello futon mattress on the floor in every room), etc., the adapting our daily rhythms to his moods (Grocery store trip at 11a? Only a mad woman would consider such folly.) sometimes causes me a bit of wonderment on our most challenging days: Have we done too much for him? Are we going overboard? Etc.

I just like to stop by here every now & again to collect experiences like yours. They never fail to console me when I need it most.

Thanks again for taking the time, ssh.
post #5 of 8
We all need to hear "How I survived whateverstage my kid is in" stories. My DD is currently in an incessant talking phase and she has imaginary friends, siblings and pets. Lately even when she's painting or drawing she's telling stories about what's shes painting or drawing. It's cute and charming but sometimes I need quiet, lol. I haven't read Becoming the Parent You Want to Be yet. I have read the Kurcinka books twice though, so far.
post #6 of 8
By 3 mo maybe you already felt he was intense/high needs so there you go - my dd was active and demanding of attention (literally) from the very womb.
I would see other children happily sitting in bouncy chairs with interesting things to look at, smiling and cooing - MY dd was only content with HUMAN interaction/faces to look at. And activity level? One day with a conference of midwives my dd was held by one experienced mama, and next her was another babe of the same age - both outward facing but the other was mellow, looking about - mine? bouncing, shaking legs, flapping arms and just constantly moving (she was 4 mo)

She's now nearly 7yo and we've had our challenges but ap/gd has worked great and she is very well behaved and a delightful/loving person Still active and emotionally intense and craving human interaction tho - its just who she is
post #7 of 8
It can really help whenever faced with a child's personaility traits that seem super challenging to think about how those traits will be a bennifit when they are grown. It is especially helpful on those days you feel overwhelmed by their personalities and start wishing they were different and wondering if you could change them
I do consider my dd spirited, although not high energy. Those connections you mention, she will make too, and she has an amazing memory, at 7 she will still make connections I barely remember to things that happened when she was 2 or 3. Her ability to focus is also amazing which is both a blessing and a challenge. As she gets older it is easier to see the blessing side of her personality triats and engage her in working through the challenging parts so we can both be happy.
Tailoring the environment to make life easier is a good mommy surivial skill in my book, not a bad thing to do. Who wants to go through their day struggling? And you can't reason with a toddler.
Having a rythm to the day can also help get through those challenging times because it helps everyone know what to expect next without thinking about it. (ex. every day after lunch we clean-up and then go for a walk. We we get home its naptime, after nap is playtime, then we will read some books, then play again until supper, etc.)
post #8 of 8
This doesn't answer your question, but I try to remind myself that many of those qualities that make my child challenging to parent will serve her well as an adult. For ex., I *want* her to be strong willed, to know her own mind, to question authority. Sometimes I think obedience and pliability are way overrated.
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