A friend recently asked me for advice about full-on kids. I should know, I have a bunch of them, I guess! Rather than see this full-on-ness as negative a wonderful book I came across helps us to better understand our kids with big personalities and work with them rather than fighting them; enjoy them rather than being tormented by them! Here I have taken some excerpts from the chapter which helps to clarify where our kids fall in the range of personality. So grab a pencil and paper and take the test... you might be surprised!
Excerpts From the Book "Raising your Spirited Child" by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka
"Even in the hospital nursery the differences in emotional intensity are apparent. Some babies 'squeak' when they are hungry. Others wail, their cries echoing down the corridor.
Spirited kids are born intense.... There's nothing wrong with the spirited screamer. He is temperamentally more intense. That isn't all bad. It means he is also more enthusiastic, exuberant, zestful.
Spirited children experience every emotion and sensation deeply and powerfully. Their hearts pound, adrenaline flows through their bodies. There is actually a physical reaction that occurs more strongly in their bodies than in less intense individuals.
They are not loud because they know it irritates people; they are loud because they really feel that much excitement, pain or whatever the emotion or sensation might be. Their intensity is real..."
"Spirited kids "lock in". If they want to do something, they want to do it now and can't easily give up on it.
The advice to stop a persistent child's cry by ignoring it is worthless, a frustrating joke. Although other children may be asleep within minutes of being put in their bed, this child can scream for hours unless mum or dad find a way to soothe her and help her stop.
...Persistent kids are committed to their tasks. If they want a cookie, they will keep coming back until they get one. They are goal-oriented, unwilling to give up easily.
...they are persistent when they are motivated and personally interested in the idea or activity. If it's their idea, they won't let go of it. If it's yours they are much more interested in what's going on in the world around them.
The world needs people who are persistent, but as their parent you can expect to expend more energy and skill to win cooperation."
"Spirited children are born with a super set of sensors. Although many kids can fall asleep in a room full of people, the spirited child stays wide awake taking in every sound and sight...
Sensitive kids also respond to emotions, serving as the family's stress gauge. When you feel the worst, they'll act the worst.
To the sensitive child, every experience is a sensory bombardment.
He sees, hears and smells things that others (including parents and siblings) might miss.
If your child is temperamentally sensitive, hearing, smelling and feeling things that you may not even discern, you can expect that food, clothing, crowds, noisy celebrations and other sensory loaded activities will easily trigger him.
Now when it happens, instead of worrying that he is being obnoxious or naughty on purpose, you can recognise it for what it is: his first and most natural reaction, a reaction you can help him learn to manage..."
"Not only are spirited kids more sensitive, they are also more perceptive. They'll notice everything...
Their perceptiveness can often get them into trouble because it might appear they are not listening. Ask a perceptive child to get dressed and she'll disappear, Thirty minutes later you can find her still in her pyjamas staring out the window at cloud formations or playing with the ball she tripped over on the way to her room...
The keen observations of perceptive kids feed a rich imagination... They'll point out a king's crown left by the strokes of the vacuum cleaner, or the letter B formed by the spaghetti sauce on their plates. They'll act out stories and design crazy costumes.
It may be impossible to nurse the perceptive baby in a room full of people... every time someone speaks or walks past, the baby will turn to look or listen, taking the nipple with her - it's a painful stretch!
If you have marked a 4 or 5 for your child's perceptiveness, you know that your child is engaging more of the world around her than the average person. She will need your help learning how to tune in to the most important messages..."
"Spirited children usually adapt to change very slowly. They hate surprises and need time and forewarning in order to shift from one activity to another.
You may find the concept of adaptability new to you and may not have noticed how your child reacts. Yet adaptability may be one of the major reasons why you and your child are finding yourselves in daily hassles.
It's the slow-to-adapt child who loses it because you cut his toast in triangles when he wanted squares, or you stopped at Burger King when he wanted McDonalds. Naptime, lunchtime, bedtime drop-off at day-care time and pickup from school time are all daily transitions that are challenging for this child...
Changing from daylight savings time is a hassle. A new season and the inevitable change in clothing may prove to be a major source of contention. Stopping a game in order to eat dinner can be a significant intrusion.
They are not trying to be stubborn and make life miserable for you. They need time to adjust...
Understanding how your child reacts to transitions and changes is key to winning cooperation. If your child is slow-to-adapt, you need to know it so you can help him prepare."
"Many but not all spirited kids never fall into a schedule on their own, leaving their parents exhausted. It seems impossible to predict when they will be awake, when they'll need to sleep, or when they'll be hungry. Irregularity can also affect how children handle mealtime, bedtime and toilet training; get up in the morning, travel; and 'prowl' the house at night. Getting an irregular child on a schedule can be a very frustrating experience.
Spirited children who are irregular by nature are not intentionally trying to upset their parents. Their bodies are not easily scheduled into a predictable pattern or rhythm. If you have marked a 4 or 5, you can expect to work much harder at establishing regular routines in your household.
You can expect a child who isn't hungry at dinner but is hungry the moment you put the dishes away. It's her temperament that causes this behaviour, not her disrespect for you. When you understand that, it is easier to work out a mutually acceptable solution."
"Many spirited children are energetic; however not all of them are climbers and leapers. Some merely seem to possess incredible energy. they don't walk, they run. They can't pass through a doorframe without jumping up to touch the header.
They fall out of their chairs at school and at the dinner table.
It isn't that they aren't paying attention or trying to follow rules; they simply have a need to move. A long trip in the car can be a nightmare unless frequent stops are taken to let this child release the energy pumping through his veins.
If your child is temperamentally energetic, you can expect that he will need to move. You can predict it and use this information to plan for his success."
"A group of spirited children will split right down the middle on this trait. Half the children will jump into new situations, which poses the problem of children literally jumping into trouble. They leap before they look.
The other half hang back, often refusing to participate; they may cry and throw themselves on the floor, kicking and screaming the first time they are introduced to anything new. It is this half that poses the greatest challenges for most parents, as our culture tends to be more supportive of go-getters.
Whether its the first bath, the first day at school, a new food, a new car seat or the first try at swimming lessons, many spirited kids don't want to try it and insist they don't like it. It is important to recognise this as a first reaction - not a final decision - because often, with time, the child will change her mind and really enjoy participating..."
"In spirited children, approximately half will possess a generally positive, happy mood. The other half is definitely the most challenging for parents. They tend to be more serious, to cry more, and to appear to be more negative because they are always offering suggestions for improving an activity.
Asked a general questions, such as "How was school today?" the more serious kids will respond with comments like "boring", "dumb" or "fine". They'll tell you they didn't do anything interesting despite the fact they took a field trip to a radio station. They really don't mean to appear unappreciative or uninterested. they see the world from a more analytical perspective...
When you recognise he is responding because of a first and natural reaction rather than intentionally being contrary or ungrateful, you can teach him to be more diplomatic and respectful of others' feelings.
Now go back through each of the temperamental traits and total your responses. Mark your total on the scale below.
My Kids Scores:
DASH = 29 (borderline spirited)
MISS FAB = 37!! (spirited)
SCRAG = 23 (spunky)
As you can see I have no potential librarians in my brood! Our house is always noisy, often chaotic, frequently crazy.
Where they scored highly varies; Miss Fab and Dash are both intense, perceptive and energetic but Dash is more sensitive, Miss Fab more persistent. Scrag is energetic and loud but happy and mostly easy-going. Phew.
I wholeheartedly recommend Mary Sheedy Kurcinka's Book, "Raising your Spirited Child". This book has saved our lives and helped us to understand our Spunky and Spirited kids.
You can purchase it from http://goodbooksnz.com; free shipping anywhere in the world. All profits going to a great cause.