Raising Your Spirited Child: A Guide for Parents Whose Child is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, and Energeticby Published 28 Nov 2006
|Raising Your Spirited Child: A Guide for Parents Whose Child is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, and Energetic.pdf|
|Publisher||William Morrow Paperbacks|
Newly revised, featuring the most up-to-date research, effective strategies, and real-life stories
The spirited child—often called "difficult" or "strong-willed"—possesses traits we value in adults yet find challenging in children. Research shows that spirited kids are wired to be "more"—by temperament, they are more intense, sensitive, perceptive, persistent, and uncomfortable with change than the average child. In this revised edition of the award-winning classic, voted one of the top twenty books for parents, Kurcinka provides vivid examples and a refreshingly positive viewpoint. Raising Your Spirited Child will help you:
understand your child's—and your own—temperamental traits
discover the power of positive—rather than negative—labels
cope with the tantrums and power struggles when they do occur
plan for success with a simple four-step program
develop strategies for handling mealtimes, sibling rivalry, bedtimes, holidays, and school, among other situations
Raising Your Spirited Child: A Guide for Parents Whose Child is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, and Energetic Reviews
Is is too much of an exaggeration to say this book saved my life? Well, perhaps it is, but in all honesty, this book improved my quality of life and helped me understand my 3 year old's personality. My child is definitely more intense and sensitive than many other children--but now I've learned to value and appreciate her in a new way. I also know how to be an advocate for her in preschool and future school settings. Seriously, I am a better mommy due to the facts and advice found in this book.
Якщо я скажу, що знайшла, нарешті, книгу про виховання, яку радитиму й даруватиму усім знайомим батькам, ви мені повірите? Ні? А даремно! Бо я її таки знайшла, навіть враховуючи увесь мій скептицизм щодо подібної літератури. І якщо "Французьке виховання" Памели Дракермен (мамський хіт позаминулого літа) сприйнявся з багатьма правками стосовно місця, часу, традицій, звичок тощо, то поради американської лікарки-педіатра й відомого тренера з виховання дітей мені особисто як мамі вже стають у пригоді практично в повному обсязі.
Зізнаюся, спочатку я чомусь вирішила, що мова йтиме про те, як виховати зі звичайної динини надзвичайну. Почавши читати, я запідозрила, що ні – книга про те, що робити з надзвичайними, цебто особливими дітьми. А потім з’ясувалося, що це ж – про мого малюка і про мене! І про подругу та її дітей. І про сестру та її доньку. А ще з’ясувалося, що практично всіх сучасних дітей можна назвати "надзвичайними" – емоційними, чутливими, занадто інтро- чи екстравертивними тощо. І якщо знати про їх особливості й знати, що з цим робити, то життя і дітлахів, і батьків може стати набагато легшим, цікавішим, змістовнішим і, головне, щасливішим. А хіба не всі ми саме цього прагнемо?
п. с. Одна з дуууууже небагатьох книг, яку запланувала перечитати відразу після того, як пегорнула останню сторінку. А це вже щось)))
I found this book stunningly useful and reassuring. Kurcinka emphasizes that those larger-than-life size reactions your preschooler are having come from her real reactions to things and that understanding the temperamental sources of some of those reactions (like being slow to adapt to a new situation or being high energy and needing to move) can allow you to handle them better and to facilitate them where you can and redirect them where you can't. While reading Kurcinka's book, I found myself becoming more sympathetic to my daughter's frustrations and outbursts. The best part, I think, is that Kurcinka allows you the parent to have emotional reactions (even acknowledges that you might be "spirited" too) and encourages (indeed, insists upon) monitoring your own emotional reactions and responding to them (taking a break, for example, when your persistent kid is about to make you explode). In addition, and this seems so smart to me, she encourages you to narrate your process of handling emotions to your child in order to make her process of doing the same thing feel more natural, normal, accepted. It's important to Kurcinka that we talk about children's intensity in positive terms, that we recognize that this emotional receptivity and expressivity can be a major strength in life, and that we overtly (rather than implicitly) teach the process of recognizing and managing these emotions.
The book is filled with practical advice that I've been implementing and finding successful since I first started reading it. Best of all, there's no parent-blaming, no "find your inner Zen-master," no "your kid will know if you are faking the authority that you possess." This book is all about recognizing the cues from your child that might signal a big reaction is coming and then encouraging her to be a collaborative problem solver. This idea of "finding the yes"--coming to a conclusion that satisfies all members of the family and not just the parent--is so helpful. My daughter is very intelligent and very strong-willed, and when she sees the steps of decision-making and feels heard, she becomes newly calm in a situation where she might have been gearing up to fly off the handle.
My one hesitation about the book--and this is a small one--is that the process of talking about emotions, finding the "yes," arranging routines and settings to maximize your child's potential for success, feels very time and resource-consuming, and I also worry that it communicates to your child that there is going to be a lot of time/space/negotiation dedicated to them in the future in the world. This is not exactly the same hesitation that Kurcinka reports from a number of her parents, whom she says have been raised with more traditional discipline. I see how Kurcinka's system of problem-solving and compromising is consistent with boundary-setting when it is needed, and I also think that autocratic edicts from on high teach less than explanations and expectation-setting do. But the whole idea of reading a five-hundred page book about how to patiently negotiate with your child sets up the fact that Kurcinka expects that you will treat child-rearing as one of the major centers of your life, and I worry about the child who learns that they are the center of household life and then goes out into the world to discover that no one else feels that way. I suspect that Kurcinka would say that when we narrate emotional management and highlight collaborative problem-solving, we give the child the tools to handle those threatening or difficult situations on their own. And so far, in my house, it's really been working! It's no exaggeration to say this book felt like a lifesaver to me.
I picked this up after a few friends suggested it. At times we struggle with focusing our son's energy in positive directions and I thought this might be helpful. While I don't think my son falls into the truly "spirited" category, many of the attributes outlined in the book did apply to him and it was good to read a bit more about facets of his personality and temperament.
Quite honestly, I didn't learn a whole heck of a lot of new techniques. If anything, the author reassured me that I am already doing the right things to encourage his positive development. In some ways, I felt victorious in reading this, thinking to myself, "Yep, I do that! Check!"
What the book really did was give me a reminder that I need to be more consistent with some of these techniques and to apply them more frequently. Since reading the book, I also find myself taking a moment to regroup when his behavior starts to get under my skin. I stop, remind myself that he is not being pokey, or being contrary just to tick me off...there is something behind it, and, as a parent, it is my job to help him process that. That has helped me to stay calmer, a lot calmer.
Kurcinka's writing style makes her tips and techniques accessible to a broad spectrum of parents. She doesn't go into great technical detail. She keeps things simple and clear, and, as such, I would feel comfortable suggesting this book to parents from very diverse backgrounds.
For me, the best part of her book/writing, is that it is peppered throughout with real-life examples from other parents. Many times I found myself reading other parents' tales and thinking, "Phew...I am not the only one!" In reality, this book reminded me that my son is a normal kid, with slightly higher energy and perceptiveness than his peers. This can present challenges, but harnessed in the right way, it can also present great opportunities.
MY NOTES/QUOTES/AND USEFUL BITS:
This is called the Pygmalion Effect and has been well documented by researchers. The reality is that children learn what hey are from others in their lives. Think about ht e spirited children you know. What words do you use to describe them? Do they sound like the million-dollar words created by advertising companies, words that can make you wish you could have even more children who are spirited? Are they the kind of descriptors that would make others envy you the opportunity of raising a spirited child? Tags that create, warm, tender feelings? Labels that make you puff with pride, smile in appreciation, and chuckle with enjoyment? Positive words that focus on what’s right instead of what’s wrong? To be perfectly honest, it’s unlikely.
Research has documented it, when we are happy and feeling good about ourselves, we select higher goals, perform better, and persist longer on tasks. And although your child may initially respond with a bit of skepticism, if you keep it up, eventually he will believe your words and become more open to your guidance. Words really do make a difference.
It’s easy for a child to build a healthy since of self-esteem when the words used to describe him are the ones like creative, curious, and zestful. Words that create positive images wrap our kids in a protective armor, giving them the strength they need to make the behavior changes that actually turn the inappropriate behavior into acceptable actions. In other words, kids who like themselves, behave themselves.
Once children have learned to respond to the cues their bodies are sending them and understand time-out as a healthy opportunity to deal with their stress, they can call for one themselves. In fact, you may see your children slide out of the action and into their room for a quick break all by themselves. Intuitively they are bringing their bodies back into the green zone. This is especially true if you have created a sign with the words “I need a hug,” or “I need your attention” on it that they can hand to a parent when time-out alone isn’t enough to pull the game plan back together. Even three-year-olds can begin to appreciate the power of words instead of tantrums to get their needs met.
People yell when they are angry and frustrated. Mind you, I am not advocating yelling, but it is a reality. In some cultural groups it is very acceptable. In others it may not be as widely approved, but it remains a fact of life. We are all aware of the traumas children experience when they lie in their beds listening to their parents screaming at each other, or stand there, powerless victims, as their parents rage at them. This is verbal abuse, which studies over the last three decades have shown can be even more psychologically harmful than the physical assault of punches and kicks. This kind of yelling is not acceptable.
Spirited kids are our future politicians, lawyers, salespeople, and agents of change. If we don’t want to spend our time arguing with them every day, we have to be sure our basic ground rules are very clear.
Rules describe what behavior you expect. Your family’s rules may not be the same as mine, but what’s important is that there aren’t too many. Spirited kids test every single rule. “Are you sure it’s a rule?” they seem to question. “Is it true that it’s a rule every time? Are you really going to insist I follow it? Do you follow it too?” Rules are your battle lines. The fights you are willing to dig your feet in and be as persistent as your spirted child.
In my classes I’ve whittled the guidelines for rules
down to three basic questions:
1. Is the behavior safe?
2. Is it respectful of self and others?
3. Is it respectful of the environment?
If not, it’s the adult’s job to help the kids stop.
When you are very clear about what your rules are and why you have them, you will feel confident. When you insist that your three-year-old take a nap or at least have a rest period, you don’t have to question yourself when he starts to put up a fuss. You know it’s important for him and his safety, since preschoolers who go more than eight hours without sleep are 86 percent more likely to end up in an emergency room with injuries.
CHECK STIMULATION LEVELS
I always tell parents in my classes that if they ever feel as if they are the only parents in the world with a sensitive spirited child, they should drop everything and head for the largest, noisiest, most congested store in their area. There they will find spirited kids dropping like little bombs: two down in aisle one; three in aisle four (the candy shelf); and six in aisle seven (the toy department). At first glance in will appear that the explosions are triggered by a refusal to buy a candy bar, a desire to push the cart, or some other insignificant issue. The real trigger, however, is hidden in the fluorescent lights, piped-in music, flashing signs, colorful packages, and crush of people that create more stimulation than a sensitive child can endure, especially if his or her energy bank is low.
Remember introverts only like to share feelings after they’ve had a chance to think about them. Let them know you’re available when they’re ready to talk, but give them the time and space they need to think through their emotions before you expect them to share them. If you push them, they’ll only withdraw. Introverts need their space.
Sensitivity combines with intensity to make spirited kids very tenderhearted. They form deep and lasting relationships. They have a tremendous sense of justice. They are easily hurt. It is critical that they understand both their sensitivity and intensity, to realize that life may have dumped a bucket of water on their head but they aren’t drowning. They will survive.
Choosing the right words is critical to winning your child’s cooperation. If you want your child to do something and don’t wish to debate it, be sure your message is a clear direction: “It’s time for bed,” “You may play in the yard,” “It’s time to leave,” “Wash your hands before eating,” “and “The rule is you must wear shoes in school.” These are all straightforward directives. They clearly and simply tell the child exactly what he may do. Make sure you are not unintentionally blurring your direction by adding the words please or okay or even raising your voice at the end of your statement as though asking a question, when there really isn’t any choice.
If you don’t want to be hit, bitten, whined at, hung on, or disgusted, you have to teach your children how to get your attention. Decide how you would like them to approach you and then show them. Do you want words? What words? “I want attention,” “I need a hug,” or “Please listen to me.” Do you want actions: a tap on the shoulder or the shaking of your hand? Do you need eye contact? Do you want them to stand in front of you? Do you want them to pull you down to their level and talk to you?
There isn’t one right way, but just as you have to learn how to get your child’s attention, your child has to learn how to get yours. Next time he whines, say, “Stop. I’m listening. I think you are telling me you want attention. Say it with words.” Or if she hits you, say, “Stop. Hitting hurts. If you want my attention, take my hand.” Then you have to be willing to garner your forces and give your attention to her.
Spirited children adapt slowly to transitions – any transition – because change can easily put them into a state of alert, ready to move into the red zone of fight, flight, or freeze. When the intensity goes up, adaptability goes down. To shift gears, to pass from one activity, place, or topic to another requires a wrenching, grinding effort on their part. Transitions are the virus that can destroy the system. If you can’t even get the kids out the door, in the door, to the table, from the table, or cleaned up without a major hassle, the good parts of the day lose their sparkle. The day feels rotten. Listening to their vehement squeals of protest make you feel that a major overhaul is needed to correct the problem. Fortunately a mere tune-up will do the job.
*establish a routine
* allow time
*forewarning is critical
*allow time for closure
*limit the number of transitions
*help them deal with disappointment
You can help take the sting out of disappointments by playing “what if” with them. Before an event or departure occurs, talk through the things that could possibly happen. For example, if you are going to a movie, ask you child, “What if we got there and all the tickets were sold out? How would you feel? What would we do?” Or, “What if you went to a birthday part and they served fruit salad instead of birthday cake? How would you feel? What would you do?” Or, “What if you went to swimming lessons and they called everyone’s name but yours?”
“What if” teaches kids to be good problem solvers and sets them up for success. If the “what if” actually happens, they’re already prepared. They know how they feel, they have words for it, and they know what to do. Even if you haven’t quite guessed the “what if” situation correctly, you’ve probably come close enough to make comparisons.
“Doesn’t this raise anxieties?” parents ask me. Potentially it could, but the emphasis of “what if” is not on what terrible disappointment or calamity could happen. The emphasis is on our confidence in their ability to solve the problem. This is a supportive, comforting message. Kids don’t become anxious when they feel in control.
Megan Gunnar at the University of Minnesota has found that even infants show elevated levels of stress hormones when their parents are stressed. While all children will respond this way, your spirited child picks it up like a top-of-the-line vacuum. Truly this child is your family’s “emotional barometer.” His spill-over tantrums are a warning sign that can feel overwhelming when you are already at the end of your rope.
DEVELOPMENTAL SURGES: Kids go through developmental surges. You can mark it on your calendar. Somewhere around their birthday and their half birthday, you can expect trouble. They get cranky and uncooperative. They might be incapable of doing what they were able to do just a few weeks before. Nothing seems right. They’re easily frustrated. Every time you turn around, they’re crying about something else. They won’t cooperate. They want to be held and then push you away when you hold them. They’re angry – angry at you, at the world, and at themselves. They are more easily upset by anything.
The developmental theorists tell us that this is a time of disintegration, a time when children are moving from one stage of development to another. Their inner systems are restructuring, creating a new, more complex way of understanding the world.
Ask your kids if they know what the rules in your house are for tantrums. If they don’t know, sit down and talk about them, but choose your discussion time wisely. Select a time when everyone is well rested, cool, calm, and relaxed. Then you can actually have fun with it. Kids as young as three can develop the rules. Go ahead, ask them. It is fascinating what they have to say. If your spirited child is an infant or toddler, know what your rules are and say them out loud so your child will begin to learn them.
At our house the rules for tantrums look like this: It’s all right to cry and throw yourself on the bed. You can stomp your feet, yell like Tarzan, and ask to be held. It’s not all right to hit, kick, pinch, scream in someone’s ear, throw things around the room, blame others, spit, scratch, grab or swear.
Now select night-sleep time. If, for example, your preschool arises at 7:00 AM every morning and takes a ninety-minute nap, sleep time will be 8:30 PM so that he will get a total of twelve hours sleep in a twenty-four hour period. If he’s school-aged and arises at seven, he’ll need to be asleep by 9:00 PM. This is not bedtime, this is sleep time – the moment you want you child to actually be sound asleep
Now think about your child. How long does it take him to prepare for bed and calm his body and his brain so that he’s ready for sleep? Most children will need approximately forty-five minutes to an hour. So if you want your child to be asleep by 8:30, that means bedtime needs to be at 7:30 or 7:45 PM at the latest.
There are hordes of books on sleep problems that will encourage you to let you child cry it out. Fortunately, even these authors are beginning to recognize that there is a flaw in this advice. Supposedly the child stops crying after a few minutes. Spirited kids don’t. Left to their own devices, intense, spirited children become overwhelmed by their powerful reactions. They may be unable to stop, crying for hours instead of minutes, not because they are “out to get you” but because of their physiology. They get more upset as the minutes tick away. The bedtime battle is extended instead of being shortened.
Some children react so strongly that they will vomit. (***THIS WAS ELI) Some experts raise a warning that to respond sympathetically is to be controlled by your child. “If they vomit,” they advise, “clean it up and put them back to bed.” But small children don’t vomit to control their parents; they vomit because they are stressed. They also rarely vomit in a neat little pile. There is nothing worse than walking into a room with vomit sprayed on the walls, the carpet, stuffed animals, and each individual bar of the crib. If your child is prone to vomiting, to to him, help him to take deep breaths and calm down so that he won’t regurgitate. Your support at this point will save you both a great deal of frustration and discomfort when you are much to tired to deal with it. (***AND I LEARNED THIS LESSON QUICKLY!)
UNDERSTANDING THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN INTROVERTS AND EXTROVERTS
Oftentimes when I talk with parents who are worried about their child’s social skills, I realize the real issue is understanding the differences between introverts and extroverts. It is important to remember that popularity or social skills cannot be measured by the number of friends your child does or does not have. In chapter 5 I explained how introverts and extroverts interact with others. Introverts are frequently not given full credit for their social skills because they are more selective with their friendships. If you are an extroverted parent, you may worry that your introverted child doesn’t have friends because he is not eager to invite other children over to play. Remember that introverts form deep, long-lasting relationships with a few good friends. Their social skills may be excellent they simply are more particular and take longer to form their relationships. If your child is playing successfully with at least one other child, you probably don’t need to worry. He has social skills, He is just being very selective in how he uses them. Remember, Introverts enjoy and need time alone. Being alone and being lonely are not the same thing to an introvert.
Why isn’t it easy to send kids off to school? You’d think we’d be happy – appreciative of the break. And perhaps you are. It is a relief, a milestone. Still, you may find your eyes filling, your vision blurred as soon as your son or daughter mounts the school-bus steps for the first time – alone – or releases your hand and enters that preschool classroom – leaving you behind. She’s on her own to face the world. You gulp, hoping that she will be treasured by those she encounters rather than discussed as an oddity or troublemaker. But you don’t know and you stand there praying that she will be successful, that she will enjoy school, make friends, and bring a smile rather than a frown to her teacher’s face.
Spirited kids can prosper in school. You can find them serving as student council leaders, in the starring roles of the school plays, as members of the winning teams, and in the enhanced learning programs. They can be successful in a Montessori school, in a local public school, in a parochial school, or in a private school. They type or location of the school doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that individual differences are respected and that parents, teachers, and kids are working together. In a school where this occurs, you can see, feel, and hear things that let you know spirit blooms here.