Is your child’s larger-than-life personality turning you grey before your time? If so, you could be the parent of a “high-spirited child”.
What is a “spirited child”?
What exactly is a “spirited child”? A spirited child is defined as: “a child who is more intense, persistent, sensitive, and perceptive than the average child.” According to personality research, 15 to 20 percent of all children fit the description of the “spirited child”.
Signs you have a spirited child
While some parents may be quick to label spirited children as simply “naughty” or”defiant”, this is actually not the case. Spirited children have lots of endearing qualities:
- They are creative
- They are imaginative
- They are often extra bright
- They are kind
- They are enthusiastic
- They are loving
- They are funny
How to raise your spirited child
Raising a child is challenging at the best of times. Raising a spirited child can be even more of a challenge!
Do you ever wonder why your child behaves the way he or she does? Are you struggling with tantrums and meltdowns? Do you find yourself getting frustrated and feeling like you’re at the end of your rope?
We chat with Kelly Nault-Matzen, a family counsellor, corporate parenting spokesperson, and award-winning parenting author, for time-tested tools parents can use to motivate spirited children to want to be better behaved, responsible, and happy!
Consistency and routine is key
Spirited children are gifted at manipulating “chances” and finding loopholes to obtaining exactly what they want. This is why it’s so important that you follow through on everything you say. Hold your ground as calmly and firmly as possible and – whatever you do – don’t back down.
Let them learn about consequences
When you get into a debate with a spirited child you are certain to lose! This is why it’s sometimes better to let your child learn through consequences. Remember that spirited children are experiential learners. That means they have to see for themselves or they won’t believe it to be true. So unless you’re worried about serious injury, it’s more effective to let them learn through experience, instead of trying to control them.
Waiting out a fight without saying anything (especially if a temper tantrum erupts in public) can be one of the most difficult, yet important, things you ever do as a parent. Spirited children are bright – they know that the biggest weapon in their arsenal is to push your embarrassment button.
Swallow your pride. Do not cave in just because you think you look bad in public. Remember if you cave in, your child will learn to use this trump card every time they want their way in a public setting.
Take time out for yourself
Parenting children is exhausting (especially a feisty child). Find little ways to take time out yourself (share child care with a friend, hire a babysitter more, use extra hours at daycare) so you will have more energy and patience to draw from during the trying situations.