Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Spirited Child (Part 1)

One day I was eating lunch when I overheard someone proudly boast that if you are raising your children correctly, there is NO reason that they shouldn't be able to sit through church quietly. After all, if they begin to act up, you simply remove them, handle the situation, then return. All will be fine.

I felt ill to my stomach. I may have even lost my appetite which is highly unusual for me.

We are fairly firm and consistent in our parenting. Don't believe me? Ask my kids. Ask their friends. Ask their teachers.

But there is no way in...the world (yes, I was tempted to use another word) that my younger children can sit through a church service quietly and still. Trust me, we have tried. (By the way, our church services run longer than most but even then, I don't think it makes a difference)

I found myself thinking, "This lady must not have the type of kids I have..."

Fast forward to this past summer.

We were visiting my sister and her family while the girls attended "horse camp".

I try pretty hard to maintain our routines no matter where we are. I am big on routine and schedule, both at home and at school. I have found most kids crave that; routines are comforting and safe. Anyway, I really do try to maintain those routines. But obviously, different environment, we are out of routine already.

Meanwhile one of my children was having a hard time. I found myself putting the child in time-outs, lecturing, taking away privileges, sending him/her to bed early, etc. Anything to calm the behavior which just seemed "out of control" to me. (Note: This wasn't a "wild child" or necessarily harmful to others, he/she was just not living up to my expectations for behavior.) And of course, having your child act out in front of family is just that much worse which probably intensified my reaction which just fed his behavior even more.

I was just at the end of my rope.

Pretty much life has been like this for the past few years. It isn't bad, nor ist the child. It is just like riding on a roller coaster. Sometimes we are on top of that hill, screaming with joy and laughing with delight at where we are. Unfortunately, the next week we may be plunging down, feeling like we are going to fall off the ride. And honestly, no matter which part of the roller coaster I am on in a given day, I collapse in bed, exhausted.

I had tried reading "Have a New Child by Friday" and "The Strong Willed Child". While both are good books, neither really seemed to address our areas of need. I know that a couple of my kids have strong wills, but that is not our only struggle.

One night I cried out for help on an adoption message board (which probably just narrowed down which child I am talking about :). And the title of a book soon popped up..."Raising Your Spirited Child" by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka.

I didn't hesitate.

I ordered it.

When the book arrived, I dove in. It is a long book but I really couldn't put it down. As we would travel different places, I would have it in my hands. I would read passages out loud for my husband to hear. I laughed and cried throughout the book, sometimes just nodding in silence.

The "description" on the front says it all.

"A guide for parents whose child is more intense, sensitive, perceptive, persistent, and energetic."

Um, yeah.

That is my life.

I took the "quizzes" in the book.

No question.

I had a spirited child.

I also took the parenting quiz.

No question about it either.

I am not spirited.

Thus my complete frustration and bewilderment when faced with these situations.

I really was on a roller coaster ride...

Tomorrow I will share a little more about the book and some of the characteristics of a spirited child as well as how it affects our life. (I promise to be careful about copyright issues with the book...I am big on that kind of stuff.)

More later,


  1. Oh how I can relate to your post. I thought I was reading about our family. Carson does not understand the word NO right now and I feel like all I say is NO to him... He can push me to the end of my rope... I love how others want to judge my parenting style...UGH! Time outs, taking things away, talks, etc right now are not working with Carson. So I too understand your post :)


Sweet Words of Wisdom