Ayyi yi... Agree that it is so apparent to you if you have one. My 10yo dd rarely slept as a babe. Even as a nb from the hosp she only slept 20-30min at a time and never in more than a 3hr stretch til after 18mo. She was a head-banger until she could talk proficiently (which meant 10-12word complex sentences by her 2nd bday). She would bang her head on cement, concrete, wood, whatever. At age 4yo she would have a 4hr meltdown because dh made an orange juice w/ seltzer water and put the water in first. DD had to have the OJ go in first. Or a different 4hr meltdown b/c a sandwich was cut in squares instead of triangles.
The pain is very genuine to this child. The insult is very real. I don't know whats insulting about seltzer water going in the glass first, but my dd *feels* it. She feels everything very intensely.
I always dreamed of homeschooling my children. Then dd was born. Yikes. Even though she has trouble blending in with other children and has some sensory overload issues-- having her home where she is bored is even worse for her. The structure of the school day is actually very good for her. Yes we have behavior issue conversations with her teachers. Thankfully she's brilliant
so she is at least on grade level. Actually way above, but thats part of the problem. DD is as gifted and intellectually advanced as she is emtionally behind. Its a tough combination.
3yo-5yo were the worst years for her spirited self. Once she learned to read at 5yo we at least had a "place" where she could find solace and comfort herself. It was never a punishment to ask her to read. We very much suggested reading as a place where she could calm herself and find joy. Thankfully she did find joy through reading and continues to love reading very complex books to this day.
I think a truly "spirited" child is hard-wired in a different way. Its neither good nor bad, just different. Parenting them is so very different from a non-spirited child (and I have 3 non-spirited children who take less of my emotional energy combined than my 1 spirited child alone). A normal child has a tantrum of 15-30mins and then can be distracted and brought back around. A spirited child might be in the tantrum for hours.
I also agree w/ pp who indicated underlying health issues can make the situation worse. DD has mild asthma and some environmental allergies, and yet until she was really diagnosed at 5yo (I was suspicious since she had been a toddler) and started being treated, I do think a general physical not feeling well played a role. I think sensory integration issues are pretty common for spirited kids.
Some people don't believe in spirited kids as a category. Thats ok. I know what it means because I live with it daily and know the tension and also incredible joy that my spirited dd brings us.