Surviving with a Spirited Child
How to help your child manage his or her "spirited" behavior and what you can do to diffuse problems or avoid them
Can You Relate?
When my oldest was four, she had five or six full-blown tantrums a day, ugly scenes in which she would lie on the floor kicking, screaming, and lashing out at me. To improve her behavior, I did try everything. I tried time-outs. I tried taking privileges and favorite toys away. I tried positive reinforcement and I tried bribery. I tried ignoring her. I tried negative reinforcement and I tried discussion. Nothing worked. I wondered if my daughter had a disorder that made her this way. I had her evaluated by school personnel and asked my doctor about her. They assured me she did not fit any diagnosis. I felt desperate and alone.
Then I learned I wasn’t alone. I was surfing on the Internet and came across a message board for parents of “Spirited Kids.” The parents there were talking about kids just like mine. “It can be isolating having a spirited child,” says Deborah Shafritz, leader of that message board, parent educator, and mother. “It’s great to know that you’re not the only one. It’s comforting and empowering, and it makes you feel like you’re not a bad parent.”
This supportive group of parents also introduced me to the books by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, entitled Raising Your Spirited Child and its companion workbook, as well as Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles. By reading these books and others, I learned that my daughter wasn’t just bratty, ADD, or hyperactive. She was “spirited.”
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