Book: Raising Your Spirited Child

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.

I started this book today. The subtitle is ‘a guide for parents whose child is *more* intense, sensitive, perceptive, persistent, and energetic.’ Sounded like the book for me, and from page 1 I have found great comfort and validation from someone who gets what it’s like to be me.

The author, Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, chooses to use the term spirited because difficult, strong-willed, and stubborn have negative connotations. A spirited child is lively, for sure, and creative and full of energy. But spirited children possess personality traits that can actually be strengths when understood and well guided. This is the basic premise of the book.

She seems to understand the randomness and intensity of the transition between good moments and bad moments, and the unpredictability of what will set a child off, and the persistence to scream for forty five minutes over toast cut the wrong way. She talks of the fear that we parents feel that we may have done something wrong in our parenting to create such behavior.

On the bad days, being the parent of a spirited child is confusing, frustrating, taxing, challenging, and guilt-inducing. You may wonder if you are the only parent with a kid like this, scared of what is to come in the teen years if you don’t figure out what to do now in the early years.

This book feels like a breath of fresh air, like a little piece of sanity. She even includes a chapter to give parents tools in keeping their cool on the bad days. Also, her definition of ‘spirited’ includes more than stubborn or explosive kids. She also includes kids who are more sensitive, more intensely inward, and more fearful and clingy than other kids – the kind of kids who are not content until the blankets on their beds are just right, or the tags on their clothing are folded down, or the bumps on their socks are smoothed out.

This book is for parents with kids who are more.

Rather than reading the entire book, then writing a review at the end, I may journal online as I go. If anyone would like to pick up a copy and read along, it would be nice to do a virtual book club through comments!

6 thoughts on “Book: Raising Your Spirited Child”

  1. I do not have kids, but was labeled “strong-willed” as a child. My mom has the patience of a Saint and now my niece is giving my sister the same fits as I’m sure I gave. Reward was everything to me when I was small. If I knew I only had to be good for 10 minutes (even though it may have been longer) and then I would get something…it helped. I also love what the author says about the sensitivity of a strong-willed child. It used to bother me that I was so “indepedent” and strong-willed yet would cry at the drop of a hat – I understand that better now as an adult and am thankful that she makes this distinction. Strong-willed does not mean a child is mean.

    I would say that my personality is still strong-willed and stubborn, fiercely independent and justice driven but these are things God knew I would need to live in a world single (alone) and childless and still feel confident and secure in who I am…my friends now say I have a tough candy shell with a smooth chocolate center.

    The book will be interesting and I look forward to your insights and posts.

  2. I’ve been meaning to read this book since my first son was born. he’s not high-energy, but his highs are freakin high and his lows are freakin low, and they can toggle 10 times within an hour. I have been emotionally exhausted being his mom.

    Good to hear that this book addresses that kind of kid too. I finally figured out when H was 2 that people with MY kind of kid were too flat worn out and demoralized to write parenting books. The books out there were not written to address me and my son.

    I’ll pick it up and join the conversation. Sounds like a fun adventure. thanks for the inspiration.

  3. I already put a hold on it with the library! Can’t wait to hear what she says about the more sensitive child, as sometimes I wonder if I’m just a hypersensitive mom and my child is not so at all…this remains to be seen!

  4. This book has been suggested to me in the past, and I just never read it, but just by the little bit you have talked about it, I must get that book. Sounds just like Josh for sure, on the one extreme (the “stubborn” end), but also Eli at the other extreme (sensitive). Guess I’ll be putting it on hold at the library as well.

  5. thanks for reminding me that this was in the pile … i will get started reading and we can “discuss’. my nora is super-spirited and i love all of her energy. i just want to learn how to direct it. let’s learn together.

  6. Wow! This is so exciting! I’m looking forward to some great discussions.

    Frances – welcome to the conversation!

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