From the point of birth, or as early as conception, did you recognize your child was "more"? Is his/her temperament more intense, more persistent, more sensitive, more perceptive, and are they more uncomfortable with change? Perhaps they are hard to get onto any kind of schedule. They may exhibit an incredibly high energy level. Their first reaction to anything new may be a rapid withdrawal or a resounding no, only to see them fully participate when warmed up. Are they analytical and always have a suggestion for change? Not all of the aforementioned characteristics need be present. However, if these sound familiar, you may be the blessed parent of a spirited child. I am not referring to a religious form of spirit. Rather, I am referencing a personality type.
Detail and Insight
Within the pages of Raising Your Spirited Child, author Mary Kurcinka assists the reader toward understanding what 'Spirited' looks like, and gives us tools to work with children whom fall within this spectrum. She brings to this publication professional and personal experience, explaining that the premise was birthed due to her own parental experience. In addition to writing this publication, Mary has helped numerous parents and educators via seminars, classes and additional publications.
The term "Spirited Children" can be credited to Mary Kurcinka finding an appropriate word to explain, and in my case take the place of, the all too typical labels of: difficult, strong willed, stubborn, and so forth. Prior to reading this publication I used the word strong-willed, but grasped adoration for the word spirited, allowing it to become a positive replacement. This book is one that I initially devoured and continue to return for more indulgence. Quite simply, I gleaned much insight and greatly benefited from the read. My only regret is that I didn't hear about it earlier.
In one section of this book we are encouraged to evaluate our child with regard to his/her nine different temperamental traits. These coping traits are placed onto a continuum from 'a mild reaction' to 'a strong reaction' or from high to low. She assists the reader toward embracing the fact that each person is unique, and that all character traits have positive aspects as well as negative. The content helps us to glean understanding of our child's natural reactions to situations, allowing us to become able to predict his/her reaction(s), and guide them toward exhibiting positive actions/reactions. In my view, this section, like the rest of the book, was extremely beneficial.
Additionally the reader is encouraged to accentuate the positive in all children. One manner that this can occur is by putting aside negative labels. By putting a positive name onto a previously viewed negative label, you can modify how you and others perceive your child. This will enhance your child's strengths. Content within Raising Your Spirited Child assists you toward doing this and more. Instead of being picky, your child becomes selective. Instead of explosive, your child it dramatic. What about being perceptive instead of distractible?
Mary provides wonderful techniques for diffusing intense reactions. She teaches us how to aid our children in learning to control their level of intensity. In Raising Your Spirited Child, we learn that the very persistence that fuels your child's ability to insist on wearing a swimsuit on a cold December day, can later be the weaponry for refusing drugs. Admire your child's persistence and choose your battles cautiously. Persistent children are committed, decisive, assertive, independent, capable, and achievers. The key here is finding your parental balance in the arena of authority. I firmly believe that children need to be respectful and well mannered. No child deserves to be controlled!
We also learn that spirited kids are incredible perceivers. You are likely to be amazed by their funny antics, have heard intellectual statements from them, and been literally amazed at their observations. Very frequently the perceptive spirited kid can tell you that you are experiencing a bad day long before you would have realized this.
Mary Kurcinka states, Spirited kids are like roses - they need special care. And sometimes you have to get past the thorns to truly enjoy their beauty."
A most perfect epilogue!
Many of the techniques Mary discusses are ones that we were implementing prior to reading this book. We knew there was something different about our daughter's temperaments. We also realized our parenting methods were not traditional. If only I had this book 12 years ago! Not only did this book confirm methods we were implementing, it gave us new strategies, and most profoundly: it allowed me to adapt a recommended motto - PROGRESS NOT PERFECTION. Both of my daughters are spirited children. It presents itself differently in both and is most obvious in my youngest.
Mary states, "Being a parent, building a healthy relationship with a child is a never-ending process. There are good days and there are lousy days. With progress our goal we don't have to wait for an obscure finale." She further reminds us to rejoice in the times of peace and forgive ourselves for the times of frustration.