Fits to a "T"

Declan is the most hilarious, sweet and adorable kid I know. He is also, hands down, the most difficult kid I know. We are so keenly aware of this. Fortunately, I found a book when he was younger called Raising Your Spirited Child. Fireworks filled the sky...we are not alone! What's a spirited child?

"The word that distinguishes spirited children from other children is more.  They are normal children who are more intense, persistent, sensitive, perceptive, and uncomfortable with change than other children.  All children possess these characteristics, but spirited kids possess them with a depth and range not available to other children.  Spirited kids are the Super Ball in a room full of rubber balls.  Other kids bounce three feet off the ground.  Every bounce for a spirited child hits the ceiling."

If you know my son, you're "amen-ing" right now after reading that paragraph. The main characteristics of a spirited child are him to a "T".

Intensity - Some spirited children display their intensity in ways anyone can see.  They don't cry - they scream.  They play noisily.  They sing loudly in the shower.  Other spirited children are quietly intense and observant , with their intensity turned inward.
Persistence - Spirited children are goal-oriented and unwilling to give up.
Sensitivity - Spirited children are keenly aware of their surroundings and respond to the slightest noises, smells, lights, textures or changes in mood.
Perceptiveness - Spirited children notice everything, and everything calls for a spirited child's attention.  They are often easily distracted and accused of not listening.
Adaptability - Spirited children are uncomfortable with change.  They do not shift easily from one activity or idea to another.
The author Sheedy Kurchinka also writes that there are four "bonus" characteristics that can make raising a spirited child even more difficult.
Regularity - Spirited children can be extremely irregular, and it can be difficult to figure out when a child will sleep or eat, and it seems impossible to get them on any kind of schedule.
Energy - Extreme energy!  Spirited children can be filled with energy.  They tend to be busy at all times and possibly fidgety.
First Reaction - Some spirited kids display a quick withdrawal from anything new.  Any unfamiliar person or place may be met with a resounding "NO!"
Mood - Some spirited kids can be very serious and analytical, meticulously reviewing experiences, finding flaws, and making suggestions for change.

Right now, we are struggling to work through the daily things in life without Declan trying to negotiation every darn thing with us.  We are also going mad trying to discipline him. Seems like he only listens if we raise our voice. We are both sick of doing that and know there is a better way. I'm re-reading Raising Your Spirited Child and we just ordered Transforming the Difficult Child - The Nurtured Heart Approach. Excited to dive in to that.

Everything said, I would not change his personality for anything! He's such a joy. If we can figure out how to harness all this energy and other characteristics, we will for sure see Declan develop in to a future leader, or CEO, or talented athlete, etc., I know it!


Tracey Brumlik said...

i think Sam and Declan are twins!

Laura Scholke said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you! My soon to be 4 year old daughter Ruby is just that - strong willed and I'm so sick of all the yelling that accomplishes nothing! This post could have been about my daughter - 110%. I can't get to the book store fast enough today - the library doesn't have it available until the 8th and I ave to start reading!

Anonymous said...

just an fyi this is Aspergers Syndrome--our two sons are very "Spirited"

Simply Complex said...

We are right there with you! I am halfway through that first book. Check out a couple of blogs for "respectful" communication- it has really really helped around here.


Good luck to your family!

Ashley said...

I respectfully disagree!! Declan fits VERY few of the characteristics of Aspergers (the sensory stuff is about it). He's super social, not at all focused on one thing--opposite actually, his learning is right on track and never before struggled with delayed motor skills, etc. Please be careful when you diagnose someone via the internet. ;)

Bri said...

Declan sounds so much like Riley. We really struggle with the negotiation, too. Its really tough when our kids outsmart us so quickly! :)

I have been trying to parent without yelling. I have been very unsuccessful because it seems to be the only thing that will catch her attention. But we keep trying.

As mentioned above, I really like ahaparenting.com. Riley really responds to me when I parent with empathy (although it is really hard because it takes a lot of energy and patience for me!!) This is one of my very favorite articles on spirited children http://www.ahaparenting.com/parenting-tools/positive-discipline/Parenting-Strong-Willed-Child

I re-read it regularly.

Meg McK said...

I feel like our 20 month old is already described by that list-- and it seems to only get more persistent with age. I will be picking up that book!