Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Raising Your Spirited Child

This book has helped to save my sanity.

It's a book for parents whose children aren't quite like other kids. Those of us with intense, passionate, fiery, kids. There are other words that get tossed around for them - high-need, strong willed, difficult - but spirited is a much better fit.

I haven't even finished reading the book yet, but what I have read has completely changed my understanding of Hana and myself. I feel validated now in my feeling that my child is different - she won't always settle herself to sleep, she can't always handle an abrupt change in activity, she will go for something she's set her mind to and no amount of distraction or redirection will stop her. She's not being bad or misbehaving or trying to manipulate, she just doesn't have the tools yet that she needs to handle all the intense feelings and urges inside of her.

There have been far fewer tantrums in the last few weeks. In fact, I can't remember any full blown tantrums in the past two weeks at all. Much fewer power struggles as well. I don't think I've had a breakdown either.

I've learned how to recognize signs that her intensity is building, and I've also learned her "reset" buttons for when things are too much. These are skills that I can teach her as she grows so that she will have the tools to handle these intense feelings without letting them get the best of her.

I've learned that the characteristics that make life challenging right now are not things that need to be stopped or fixed, but are traits that I admire and respect in adults, traits that any parent would hope their child develops. Things like determination, creativity, expressiveness, focus, empathy. I've learned to change the way I speak about these things (determined instead of stubborn, exploring instead of getting into things, expressive instead of loud) which has helped change my attitude and helped me keep my own feelings in check.

I don't feel so lost when dealing with Hana anymore, or like I'm somehow doing things wrong. Any parent (or really anyone who works with children on a regular basis) who feels the "usual" methods just aren't working might want to look into this book. It's made life so much more peaceful for my whole family.

1 comment:

Dena said...

Sounds like you have your hands full. I have been working through "Strong-Willed Child" by Dobson. Although I don't always agree with him 100%, it is helping me understand some things.