05 September 2008

Characteristics of a Spirited Child

Both my big kids have full-on personalities in their own way. We had been battling with different aspects of both their personalities when a client of Mr G's lent us the book "Raising Your Spirited Child". When we read it a light switched on for us - this book explained so much of what was going on.

The subtitle reads: "A guide for Parents whose child is more intense, sensitive, perceptive, persistent and energetic." If your child is any of those, read on!

I thought I would include some of the info here so that you can get a taste for what it's about.
The following is an except from Part 1, Understanding Spirit.

The Characteristics

"Each spirited child is unique, yet there exists distinct characteristics in which more is very apparent. Not all spirited children will possess all of the following five characteristics but each will exhibit enough of them to make them stand out in the crowd.

1. INTENSITY: The loud dramatic spirited children are the easiest to spot. They don't cry they shriek. they'renoisy when they play, when they laugh and even when they take a shower, singing at the top of their lungs... But quiet intensely observant children may also be spirited... their intensity is focussed inward rather than outward. No matter where the intensity is focussed, the reactions of spirited children are always powerful. There is rarely a middle of the road. They never whimper; they wail. They can skip into a room, smiling and laughing only to depart 30 seconds later inflamed. Their tantrums are raw and enduring.

2. PERSISTENCE: If an idea or activity is important to them, spirited children can "lock" right in. They are committed to their task, goal-oriented and unwilling to give up. Getting them to change their minds is a major undertaking. They love to debate and are not afraid to assert themselves.

3. SENSITIVITY: Keenly aware, spirited kids quickly respond to the slightest noises, smells, lights, texures or changes in mood. They are easily overwhelmed in crowds by the barrage of sensations. Getting them through a shopping centre or large gathering without losing them to a fit of tears is a major acheivement. Dressing can be a torture. A wayward string or scratchy texture can render clothes intolerable. Every sensation and emotion is absorbed by them including your feelings.

4. PERCEPTIVENESS: Send them to their room to get dressed and they'll never make it. Something along the way - perhaps an Ad on TV - will catch their attention as they wal by and they'll forget about getting dressed. It can take 10 minutes to get them out of the house into the car. They notice everything - the latest oil spill, the whit feather in the bird's nest and the dew in the spider web. They're often accused of not listening.

5. ADAPTABILITY: Spirited kids are uncomfortable with change. They hate surprises and do not shift easily from one activity or idea to another. Adapting to change, any change, is tough: ending a game in order to come to lunch, changing clothes for different seasons, getting in and out of the car. All of these activities signal a struggle for slow-to-adapt spirited children.

While each spirited child is unique, most are intense, persistent, sensitive, perceptive and uncomfortable with change. Many, but not all, possess four additional "bonus" characteristics: aspects of their personality that can make being their parent even more challenging...

6. REGULARITY: Figuring out when they will sleep or eat is a daily puzzle for parents of spirited kids who are irregular. It seems impossible to get them into any kind of schedule. An eight-hour night of undisturbed sleep is a mere lingering memory in your mind from the days before their birth!

7. ENERGY: Not all spirited kids are climbers and leapers. But they do tend to be busy - fidgeting, taking things apart, exploring and creating projects - from the time they wake up until they fall asleep. Although sometimes viewed as "wild", their energy is usually focussed and has a purpose.

8. FIRST REACTION: A quick withdrawal from anything new is typical of many spirited kids. Any unfamiliar idea, thing, place or person may be met with a vehement "NO!" or a quick disappearance behind your leg. they need time to warm up before they're ready to participate.

9. MOOD: The world is a serious place for some spirited kids. they're analytical, meticulously reviewing expereinces, finding the flaws... even if they scored three goals in the soccer game, they'll focus on the one they missed.

Being the parent of a spirited child can be lonely. Because they are more much of the advice that works for raising other children is ineffective with spirited kids. To ignore your child's tantrums is ridiculous - he can rage for an hour (or more). Send him to his room and he is likely to tear it apart. There is no distracting him from something that he wants... as a result you can feel crazy, wondering what you are doing wrong, chastising yourself for not "getting control" and thinking that you are the only parent in the world whose child acts this way."

Does this ring any bells with you??!! Even as I have been typing this out, I am thinking of countless examples of both Miss Fab and Dash; Miss Fab scores highly on the chart, Dash is just on the threshold, a kid who is extremely intense, sensitive and perceptive. Miss Fab has all these plus is greatly persistent, highly energetic and very irregular!

Click Here for more on Spirited Kids...
Click Here to take the Personality Traits Test...

Seriously, this book is a gem! If you want to get a copy yourself (http://www.goodbooksnz.co.nz/ stock it and offer free delivery).

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Sophie said...
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Karen Bierdeman said...

I love your blog! The look and feel are great--so colorful and inviting! It makes the scrapbooker in me want to go make a page! I am also a big fan of Mary Sheedy Kurcinka's work. Her book is one of my favorites, and one I use myself (with my own spirited daughter) and with my clients.

Thanks for posting about it--and for putting the temperament indicators out there too. I hope more parents learn about temperament as a tool to help them understand and teach their child.


Anonymous said...

I also forgot to add that I love Mary Sheedy Kurcinka's workbook,as well. Have you used it?


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