Parents of "Spirited" Children?? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 14 Old 04-09-2010, 12:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am looking for support from other parents to children who are "spirited" (basing this on Mary Kurcinka's book on raising spirited kids) -- more intense, energetic, sensitive, etc.

My 2 year old is such a handful, and I am constantly feeling like a failure when it comes to mothering her gently and effectively. The advice I get from other parents just doesn't seem to work with my intense, sensitive little girl. I am looking for support and advice from other mothers who have been or are in the process of BTDT. I thought maybe we could (if we get enough people/activity) focus on different issues sometimes to gather resources for handling our more high maintenance kiddos.

Lauren (33), writer, recovering academic, WOHM to a highly sensitive child (Robin, Feb '08) and mellow little Holly (Jan '10). Newly diagnosed Bipolar I. rolleyes.gif
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#2 of 14 Old 04-10-2010, 04:16 PM
 
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I could have written your post! Subbing! She is my first child. We are due in Sept. and I am just hoping that this next one's a little more laid back! I don't know if I could handle two that are quite that strong willed!
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#3 of 14 Old 04-12-2010, 12:52 PM
 
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there are threads about this in the different sections of parenting. i am moving this over to Toddlers where this one fits.

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#4 of 14 Old 04-12-2010, 01:13 PM
 
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I don´t know if our DS technically falls into this category, but he has always had a unique and demanding energy - VERY enthusiastic about everything! Social, talkative, etc...very happy most of the time. He is also quite reasonable and responsive most of the time, but at the same time NOT in any way complacent or easily led - he does not go along with what everyone else is doing "just because" and is very confident in his needs and desires - and get very intensely involved in what he´s doing.

Sometimes is energy/intensity goes over the top to the point where DH and I sometimes wonder if we should be concerned, but he will always turn around and do something so special and wonderful and ultimately "mature" that we feel there no need to worry here, he is just "intense" and slightly different than others - and we wouldn´t want to change that.

It is challenging, though...he makes you "work" a little harder for him. You have to be really alert and match that energy...sometimes it´s overhwleming.

I find that in certain moments, more firmness is definitely necessary, but calm firmness. I find the moment I get angry and start showing it, it has the opposite effect and he becomes more unruly and difficult to access. Even though, at times, it´s difficult, I find that maintaining a calm and even temper is really what works the best - and he may not go along with everything - and sometimes he gets upset, but i also find it´s important for him to learn how to manage that emotion and come out of it. When i am calm and continue to let him know that I am here for him in a caring way - that it´s o.k. to be upset and it will pass (even though he may not like what he has to do at the moment), he is able to recover more effectively and move on.

It can be draining, at times, but when I see him flourishing and growing - and see the interest, care and respect he has for others - and that it comes so naturally, I get reminded it is all worth it :-)

madre de Mathias http://www.primaryimmune.org http://www.michaeljfox.org
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#5 of 14 Old 04-13-2010, 01:38 PM
 
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Originally Posted by smokeylo View Post
The advice I get from other parents just doesn't seem to work with my intense, sensitive little girl.


This is me. I'm about 2/3 through Raising Your Spirited Child and i'm really struggling with the absence of advice for the pre-verbal toddler. Our two biggest issues relevant here are:
1) transitioning from one activity to another (ex: from playground at daycare to car to go home, or from play time to bath time); and
2) dealing with needs not being met perfectly and immediately (ex: at dinner, she signs "more" but wants rasins, not green beans. when I give her green beans, she melts down with disappointment or frustration, and no amount of understanding and rasins will help).

What do you guys think? What are your challenges?

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#6 of 14 Old 04-13-2010, 02:12 PM
 
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i'm really struggling with the absence of advice for the pre-verbal toddler.
I am struggling with this too. Our 13 month old melts. down.when something that needs to be done is not in her agenda. We have been trying to give advance warning and explaining what we are doing (e.g. "we have to go and change your diaper, but then we will come back outside" or "after we have breakfast we will go for a walk"). If things do not happen fast enough or not exactly like she meant (like with JustKate's green beans vs raisins), Fiona falls down limp and wails, shreiks like a banshee, or holds her breath and turns purple. On good days I acknowledge her feelings and explain that we sometimes have to do things that we don't want to do. On not so good days I ignore her or have to wrestle her to put on her diaper, get her into the car seat, whatever. On those days I feel like a really bad mom. On most days I worry that she'll be "that child", and I really don't know what to do about it.

Camille~
Mama to F (3/09) and S (3/11); and never forgetting my babe gone too soon angel1.gif(4/10).

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#7 of 14 Old 04-13-2010, 02:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I agree that the book is light on advice for pre-verbal and young toddlers (my daughter has a lot of words but there are still big gaps in understanding that lead to meltdowns).

Transitions are so hard when she doesn't understand the concept of time (5 minutes may as well be 1 min or 10 min). Asking her to wait a minute while I do x, y, z before I get her a snack = meltdown.

And she is really into pushing boundaries, which makes it so hard to parent gently. I want to take her to our back porch to play in the sun so she can burn off some energy and get fresh air, but she is terrible about staying on the grass (we live in a 1st fl condo so it opens to a patch of grass and then a parking lot). She will run into the street, making me chase her carrying my 11 week old and shouting. I want to honor her request to sit at the dinner table, but she will stand in the chairs, etc. So many of the things she does are unsafe right now. I want to create an "environment that says yes" but there are some things I can't change/alter, know what I mean?

Lauren (33), writer, recovering academic, WOHM to a highly sensitive child (Robin, Feb '08) and mellow little Holly (Jan '10). Newly diagnosed Bipolar I. rolleyes.gif
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#8 of 14 Old 04-13-2010, 06:25 PM
 
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When my son has mely downs , I try to play games with him to put him in a better mood, and if it reall is bad, I just let express himself and ignore the behavior, when he sees that I am not paying attention to it he magically returns to himself. In public he tries me more , but I stll try to ignore it , but it is hard to becasue U are stilling with the public, so I just take him and we leave. And He is actually better,it was either he did not want to wait and he wanted it now, or it was just to busy for him and which I think nine out of ten is the case, and I just do the best to stay calm. It gets better.

Nicole M Smith Newly Single WAHM to Curtis Scott Blaine III Nam Myoho Renge Kyo is like the roar of the lion
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#9 of 14 Old 04-13-2010, 10:37 PM
 
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Micah is a "spirited" child that seems to really be growing into his personality. While he is definitely more - more energetic, more perseptive, more persistent, and occassionally more sensitive and intense - the older he gets, the more his personality seems to fit. His "spirited"-ness seems to center around energy, perception and persistence. I think that part of it is that he really is "growing into" his personality, but I think it also helps that my perception has changed. I don't expect him to all of a sudden change and be "less" than his personality is.

When I first discovered Kurcinka's book, I too noticed that it lacked tips for the pre-verbal toddler. We are pretty much through that stage, so I will share what helped us survive...

The biggest survival tool for us was sign language. He didn't really start picking it up until he was around 14 months, but once he did, his sign vocabulary exploded. It was almost essential that I understand him, and sign facilitated that possibility. If he wanted an apple and could tell me he wanted an apple (which was a perfectly acceptable option), it saved the tantrum that would ensue if I attempted to give him a banana for a snack instead. If I knew that he wanted to watch the airplane fly by (that I could barely see/hear) before he got in the car seat, it saved the ensuing tantrum that would have resulted if I tried to put him in the seat first. A lot of the tantrums were just frustration over an inability to communicate with me what he wanted or needed.

I also picked my battles. If he really wanted an to do A and I had planned on him doing B, but A wasn't an unacceptable option, I allowed B. However, if I wanted him to do B and A was not acceptable, I enforced B and did not give in. I think with him being more persistent, it was imperative that I be consistent - no means no and yes means yes. (While I think it is important with any child to have consistency, I think spirited children flounder without consistency).

For transitioning at that stage (and even now), I use a LOT of warnings with the amount of time left as well as what is coming next. Often I give him an idea of the next step or two when entering an activity. Even when he was pre-verbal, the extra warnings of when the current activity ending and an understanding of what the next activity is helped (the fear or lack of knowledge regarding what was coming seemed overwhelming to him). I also allowed "Micah-time" between activities in case he didn't transition well. If my expectations on the length of time it took to move from one activity to the other was extended, my stress level was lower, and he generally seems to transition better if my stress is lower - if it isn't so important to stop "this" NOW and do "that" NOW, a few extra minutes doesn't seem so bad.

When I started this I had a couple other ideas in mind, but my persistent child has interrupted my train of thought a few times and they flew out of my head. I will add them when (really, if...) they come back.

Hope that helped someone!

Rebekah , single working mom to Micah (04.12.2007)
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#10 of 14 Old 04-14-2010, 01:48 AM
 
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For transitions we use "count down", this is where we count: one hippopotamus to ten hippopotami. Sometimes I count fast and sometimes slow depending on everyone’s needs. If I forget the “count down” they remind me.
I also had problems getting my twins to their room for naps so I started putting special toys there. Now instead of saying “let’s go to your room,” I allow extra time and say “let’s go blow bubbles in your room.” Sometimes it is stickers. I rotate the toys there if they get bored. BTW I found some no-spill bubbles at Target for $2, and some inexpensive sticker books with the kids crafts at Michaels.
Some of the Playful Parenting stuff also works great for us. A lot of our activities have theme songs, although sometimes it is more like a cheer or just saying things in a funny accent or monster voice to announce activities/ transitions.
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#11 of 14 Old 04-14-2010, 11:35 AM
 
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Our little guy is 2 and a half and has been high needs/spirited since birth! Part of it is due to food allergies, etc, but he is a very challenging sleeper, eater, demanding, stubborn, just more of everything! Very sensitive and empathetic and sweet too
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#12 of 14 Old 04-14-2010, 11:56 AM
 
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Our little guy is 2 and a half and has been high needs/spirited since birth! Part of it is due to food allergies, etc, but he is a very challenging sleeper, eater, demanding, stubborn, just more of everything! Very sensitive and empathetic and sweet too
I find that, as well. We don´t have allergy issues, but DS just doesn´t go along easily with anything. He is very demanding and highly tenacious (which we feel will serve him very well as he grows, as long as he is able to learn how to compromise with others at times, which we already see him learning how to do), but the flip side is that he also seems to be highly sensitive and empathetic - extremely caring in a way that is really surpising. In a sense, everything he seems to do/feel is with a high level of intensity, one way or another - he is very conscious and present with what he experiences and sees around him.

madre de Mathias http://www.primaryimmune.org http://www.michaeljfox.org
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#13 of 14 Old 04-14-2010, 12:56 PM
 
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A lot of our activities have theme songs, although sometimes it is more like a cheer or just saying things in a funny accent or monster voice to announce activities/ transitions.
We're trying to learn to ease transitions this way too. A VERY SCARY mama stomps her hands up the stairs as DD crawls up them. Doing stairs all by herself is very grown up and the loud noises are very exciting. I guess the transition becomes an activity in and of itself...

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#14 of 14 Old 04-14-2010, 04:27 PM
 
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Originally Posted by smokeylo View Post

And she is really into pushing boundaries, which makes it so hard to parent gently. I want to take her to our back porch to play in the sun so she can burn off some energy and get fresh air, but she is terrible about staying on the grass (we live in a 1st fl condo so it opens to a patch of grass and then a parking lot). She will run into the street, making me chase her carrying my 11 week old and shouting. I want to honor her request to sit at the dinner table, but she will stand in the chairs, etc. So many of the things she does are unsafe right now. I want to create an "environment that says yes" but there are some things I can't change/alter, know what I mean?
This is particularly hard for me. There are things that DD sometimes does very well -- like walking beside the cart instead of riding in it -- and she is very independent and persistent, so I want to say yes to these things and honor those traits, but there are times when she makes me regret it so badly. My husband, who is a stay-at-home dad and more black and white in his thinking, avoids any situations that could potentially go off track with her. When they go shopping, she rides in the cart, no questions asked.

I'm learning that I can only allow DD to set the parameters when I truly have nothing to lose and my tank is full on patience. I'm learning to look around at the environment to determine if the situation allows for freedom of movement or being strapped in, metaphorically speaking, but it's hard to always know. I'm not very rigid or consistent, by nature.

Amy (34): mommy to DD1 (11/07) and DD2 (7/10), wife, wohm, and wannabe suburban homesteader.
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