Raising Your Spirited Child: A Guide for Parents Whose Child Is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, Energetic

( 66 )

Overview

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...

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Overview

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

"A spirited child, often called difficult or strong-willed, has certain needs that may make parents feel overwhelmed and frustrated; this book explains how to understand and nurture these special children."

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What People Are Saying

Louise Bates Ames
"The book will prove to be a real lifesaver."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060739669
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 11/28/2006
  • Edition description: Revised Edition
  • Pages: 496
  • Sales rank: 56,176
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, M.A., is an award-winning educator in Minnesota's Early Childhood Family Education Program, and founder of the Spirited Child and Power Struggles workshops. She is the bestselling author of Sleepless in America and Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles, and she lives with her family in St. Paul, Minnesota.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


WHO IS THE SPIRITED CHILD?


An opportunity to fall in love, fodder for frustration, source
of anxiety, and an unending puzzle--this is my spirited
child.

-- Diane, the mother of two




The word that distinguishes spirited children from other children is more. They are normal children who are more intense, persistent, sensitive, perceptive, and uncomfortable with change than other children. All children possess these characteristics, but spirited kids possess them with a depth and range not available to other children. 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.

It's difficult to describe what it is like to be the parent of a spirited child. The answer keeps changing; it depends on the day, even the moment. How does one describe the experience of sliding from joy to exasperation in seconds, ten times a day. How does one explain the "sense" at eight in the morning that this will be a good day or a dreadful one.

The good ones couldn't be better. A warm snuggle and sloppy kiss awaken you. He captures you with his funny antics as he stands in front of the dog, a glob of peanut butter clinging to a knife hidden in the palm of his hand, and asks, "Is Susie a rotten sister?" The dog listens attentively. The hand moves just slightly up and down like a magical wand. The dog's nose follows the scent, appearing to nod in agreement. You can't help laughing.

Profound statements roll from his mouth, much too mature and intellectual for a child of his age. Heremembers experiences you've long since forgotten and drags you to the window to watch the raindrops, falling like diamonds from the sky. On the good days being the parent of a spirited child is astounding, dumbfounding, wonderful, funny, interesting, and interspersed with moments of brilliance.

The dreadful days are another story. On those days you're not sure you can face another twenty-four hours with him. It's hard to feel good as a parent when you can't even get his socks on, when every word you've said to him has been a reprimand, when the innocent act of serving tuna casserole instead of the expected tacos incites a riot, when you realize you've left more public places in a huff with your child in five years than most parents do in a lifetime.

You feel weary, drained, and much too old for this even if you were only in your twenties when your child was born. It's hard to love a kid who keeps you up at night and embarrasses you in shopping centers.

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.


THE DISCOVERY OF SPIRIT



You might have known since pregnancy that this child was different from other kids, normal but different. She might have kicked so hard during pregnancy that you couldn't sleep from six months on. Or it might not have been until birth, when the nurses in the nursery shook their heads in dismay and wished you luck. It could have been years later. At first you might have thought all kids were like this. Your "awakening" might have come with the birth of a second child--one who slept through the family gatherings instead of screaming and let you dress her in a frilly dress instead of ripping at the lace. Or it could have been the birth of your sister-in-law's child, the one who could be laid down anywhere and promptly went to sleep. Your sister-in-law proudly beamed as though she had done something right, while your child continued to fume and fuss, causing all the eyes in the room to turn to you, silently accusing, "What's wrong with yours?" Your intuition has fought the stares and the indictments brought against you, knowing, believing that this child was tougher to parent, but not quite sure if you were right, and if you were, you didn't know why.


WHY "SPIRITED"



You probably haven't heard the term spirited children before. That's because it's mine. In 1979 when my son, Joshua, was born there weren't any spirited child classes or books. In fact the only information I could find that described a kid like him used words such as difficult, strong willed, stubborn, mother killer, or Dennis the Menace. It was the "good" days that made me search for a better word to describe him. On those days I realized that this kid who could drive me crazy possessed personality traits that were actually strengths when they were understood and well guided.

My Webster's dictionary defines spirited as: lively, creative, keen, eager, full of energy and courage, and having a strong assertive personality. Spirited--it feels good, sounds good, communicates the exciting potential of these kids, yet honestly captures the challenge faced by their parents. When we choose to see our children as spirited, we give them and ourselves hope. It pulls our focus to their strengths rather than their weaknesses, not as another label but as a tool for understanding.


THE CHARACTERISTICS



Each spirited child is unique, yet there exists distinct characteristics in which more is very apparent. Not all spirited children will possess all of the following five characteristics, but each will exhibit enough of them to make her stand out in a crowd.

Raising Your Spirited Child. Copyright © by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 66 )
Rating Distribution

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4 Star

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(10)

2 Star

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 66 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2003

    I finally am learning how to discipline and communicate with my child while remaining humane and sane!

    Mary gives lots of insight and many how-to's to parents of children that are far more challenging on a daily basis than the average kid. I appreciate the postive tone. Too many times my husband and I want to just give up on this child and say something like, "Well, at least his brother and sister are good!" I am learning to accept what I simply can not change now that I really understand how our temperaments and personalities interact with each other. However, I have changed my attitude as far as labeling my four year old as "the difficult child." That does become a self-fulfilling prophesy! So many of the strategies in this book have been working and there is a lot more peace and cooperation in my home. It feels so good to be reassured that other kids say and do things that test a parent's sanity and that all of us moms and dads regret what we say and do from time to time. I also want to recommend a very compatible book called THE POCKET PARENT which shares a similar compassionate friendly tone, as well as a variety of awesome short real-life anecdotes. This pocket-sized book is fun to read...no paragraphs, just hundreds of specific bullets of helpful tips arranged in an A-Z easy reference of topics (such as bad words, bedtime, biting, hitting and hurting others, interrupting, mealtime, morning crazies, the gimmes, separation anxiety, and whining). Both books give lots of support, a good dose of humor and sensible advice from a positive discipline bent without being preachy nor condescending. THE SPIRITED CHILD relates to kids of all ages while THE POCKET PARENT is written only for parents with 2's, 3's, 4's, and 5's. Both books are worthy additions to your library, convenient to refer to over and over again as the need arises.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 18, 2010

    What a gifts for parents!

    The very first exercise in this book is pivotal. My husband and I sat down together and did and it immediately had an effect. The simple act of reframing how we view and label our child has had a dramatic effect and has also helped when speaking to others (i.e. teachers, grandparents, etc), influencing how they view his behavior and respond. The big surprise here was that I bought this book with the intention of learning specifically how to handle one of my three sons, but, to my surprise, it is helping with all of them. She discusses in depth the nuances associated with introverts and extroverts, which is quite helpful in anticipating a child response to a situation and plan accordingly. I would, with no hesitation, recommend this book to parents.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2007

    Excellent source of information

    This book has proven to be an excellent source of information for parents of very intense, persistent, and energetic children. As a mother of a very 'spirited' 3 year old, I would sometimes become frustrated by my son's behavior. This book provided helpful techniques to handle difficult situations and helped me cherish my child for who he is. As the author mentions 'Spirited kids are like roses, they need special care. And sometimes you have to get past the thorns to truly enjoy their beauty'.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 14, 2011

    great book

    my oldest son has Asperger's Syndrome and this book was a great help in learning little tricks to help him.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2000

    An Interesting Perspective

    I read this book and liked it. The problem I found with this book however, is that it seems to tell parents that regardless of how the child's behaviour is affecting others it is okay because it is not the childs fault. As parents it is already very difficult to see the negative aspects of our children's behaviour because we love them so much. I also read 'The Omnipotent Child' and found Dr.Millar's advice to be equally compassionate, but much more realistic. I tried the advice in both and can honestly say that the results were much more positive when Dr.Millar's advice was followed. My whole family, especially my spirited child, is much happier now.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2014

    To takota

    Go to kar res 1

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 29, 2013

    Highly recommend

    The women I purchased Spirited Child for are so happy happy about this book. They have only read the first chapter but gave a wonderful tesimony about how application can be made to all children.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2012

    Excellent so far

    This was initially recommended to me by our pediatrician. I'm about halfway through it, but already I've learned so much. It's given me great insight into both my daughter's and my own personalities and has helped me to see her in a new and more positive light. I've already recommended it to parents of other spirited children and they have all loved it as well.

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  • Posted July 2, 2012

    It is your duty to read this if you have children =).

    The book has helped me not only with my kids but with my wife and soldiers as well. It helped me take a reflective look at how we are all built differently and we can either look at the positives and help those parts mature into greatness, or we can hinder them and cause greater harm.

    This is not a book on how to "break" your child but how to identify, hone, and harness that spirit into positive channels.

    You are probably open to changing the way you look at things if your are reading a review of a book about changing how you look at things =), but i would suggest giving this book to someone who has ears but does not hear, and eyes but does not see.

    I was/am a super spirited individual, and was always encouraged to be just that. It took a lot of patience from my parents but it wouldn't have happened if they tried to break me, I would have resented them always.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2012

    Wow! We're not alone.

    As I read through this book, I have shared sections with my husband. He said I even need to write the author and ask how she was able to write a book about our daughter :o) Besides realizing that we are not alone, we have picked up several tips/hints that have changed our family dynamic. It will probably be a resource we continually refer to through the years.

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  • Posted December 29, 2011

    Highly recommended

    This book helped me learn to enjoy and cherish as well as survive trying moments with my introverted and extroverted "spirited" children. It is a most valuable parent survival tool.

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  • Posted April 8, 2011

    Must read for all parents.

    I am a mother of 4 and I can say that this book has been helpful with each one of them. Your child doesn't have to have special needs to benefit from this book. It is a wonderful addition to anyone's shelf.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2009

    Daily dose of therapy

    For the parent of a Spirited Child, this book is like a little bit of therapy each day. When I start feeling overwhelmed by my spirited child I pick up the book and read another chapter to help me to better understand and work with my child so that we both have better days.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2008

    I would recommend this book to anyone with a ¿spirited¿ child.

    I have read several parenting books but this one was the by far the best. Instead of making me feel bad about my parenting skills I felt empowered. This book gave me the tools necessary to raise my daughter without crushing her wonderful spirit. Life is interesting with a willful child and now I can enjoy it.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2007

    Sanity Saver

    This book has totally saved my sanity!! It has put my child and my relationship with her into clear perspective and has given tangible tips on how to deal with the troubles that come rather than breaking down.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 1, 2007

    A Must Have

    A reference of tools to help understand your child. An excellent combination of education and empathy.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2006

    If 'Spirited' Describes your Child . . . A Definite Must Read!

    This book offers many helpful and practical suggestions to help cope with the many types of 'spirted' children. I especially recommend this book to single moms who must face these challenges without support or with the added burden of a less than cooperative dad.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2004

    great book

    I checked this book out of the library when my son was going through a horrible bout of colic as a newborn. That only lasted 2 months but he was still so 'energetic' even at 3 months. I have 2 girls who are docile in comparison so we were really thrown for a loop with this little guy. I had to come and buy the book when I realized this wasn't just a phase!! LOL! He isn't even one yet but this book's been really helpful and even helps me with my 2 girls who are 10 and 7.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2004

    Great Resource

    This was the most helpful book I read to help my 'Spirited' daughter. So much better label than 'Strong-willed' and 'difficult.' Now I'm going to re-read it for my ADHD son, who is not strong-willed or difficult, but quite hyper.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2003

    a Great book!

    As a mom of a very *spirited* little boy I say, purchase this book now! I have the older version of this book (with a different cover) and I've been re-reading it for years! When your child is difficult and has strong defiant behaviors, it's easy to label them with names like, 'hyper', 'wild', etc. I like this book because it changes your thinking to *spirited* kids, thus improving your parenting style. A great read!

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