I’m a fairly mild mannered girl. It takes quite a bit to rile me up and get me excited, agitated or angry. I’m certainly not saying I can’t get there. I just run at a slower boiling point than some. However, I think that some of my favorite people and kiddos are those that boil quickly and intensely. I’m not sure what it is about them. Maybe I long for their zest and intensity for both hot and cold/high and low. I love being around them and love working with them.
As parents, it’s important to recognize what your own boiling point is before you can help lower your child’s. Children watch us control ourselves in order to determine how to control themselves. I tell parents that if they can first recognize and conquer their own intense temperaments -or lower their own boiling point first – then they will be better equipped to help their child lower his/her boiling point.
Do you get physically hot when you are angry? Does the red creep up your neck? Do you talk faster, high pitched or louder? Think about what happens to you as you begin to boil. Then try a few of the following steps – these steps are exactly what you would show/teach your child as well.
- Deep breathe
- Relax your neck, shoulders and jaw (on purpose!)
- Turn away from what it is that is frustrating you – or close your eyes for a moment so you can’t see it.
- Swallow or suck (This is a natural movement that has been around since you were born. Get a drink of water, suck on a candy or pop in some gum!)
- Sway (Yes really! Again a natural movement that was there when you were born. We all sway when see a baby rocking, try it! You may find it soothing!)
What other signs show you that your child is about to boil over?
What things do you do to try to lower that boiling point?
Last night I went to bed late and woke up early, refreshed. Another night I may go to bed at a decent time and still have trouble dragging myself out of bed. Sound familiar? And I do know the importance of a regular sleep routine. I feel better and function better when I have enough sleep.
We adults can manage some deviation from getting enough sleep. But it is not realistic to expect that kids can do the same. When I listened to the podcast, I really zoned in on the conversastion about how the spirited kids suffer more from not getting enough sleep. Then I add to that the hectic schedules many families keep, plus the availability of tech devices in kids’ bedrooms, and OH MY!
Remember how excited you were as a parent when your baby starting sleeping through the night? Then later on when your little one starts fighting the naps, it seems like we can easily forget how important sleep is for her. It’s easy enough to find out how many hours of sleep children need each night. Check out the Children and Sleep publication mentioned on the main page this month. As a good rule of thumb, choose a bedtime that is about 10-12 hours before your child needs to get up. Then stick with it. Even if your child doesn’t fall right to sleep, at least he is resting.
And just one more thought – don’t have lots of exciting and interesting things going on in the house when it is bedtime. No one wants to miss out. So turn off the TV and computer, put on your pjs, and bring the day to a quiet close. Raising a spirited child can be a challenge. So why add to everyone’s stress level by operating on too little sleep. That is one aspect you, as the parent, can control.
Now about that nap …..
Did you hear it? Could you hear your own words in what Mary was saying in this months podcast? Did you find yourself saying “She’s talking about MY child! My LIFE!”
I Love Love Love sharing about Temperament. I have been climbing the walls WAITING for the podcast to come out so you could all hear it. And now it’s here and I have so much to share ……. that I’m at a loss for words…. no really…. I have no idea where to begin!
Do you want to hear about the Intense and Feisty child? Or the Shy and Fearful one? Or maybe you have a Flexible Easy Going child and want to make sure they don’t get lost in the crowd!
Understanding temperament is like being able to ‘see in’ to the why of children’s behavior. Why do they scream loudly? Why do they cower and tuck their head? Why do they take so long to make a decision? How do I COPE!
There is so much to SHARE but I need your help to tell me where to START!!!
Listen to Mary if you haven’t and then let me know your burning questions about what she said! If you don’t help me – I’ll start without you!
Raising Your Spirited Child has been on my bookshelf for years. I helped raise three daughters and now watch them parent my seven grandchildren. As I listened to the podcast I immediately realized how my perspective has changed from kids to grandkids. Out of the three daughters, we got to parent one spirited one. I remember the intensity so well and admit I did not always see the traits in a positive way. We were just trying to get through the days without damage!
Then the grandkids started arriving. And you guessed it – the spirited daughter ended up with a spirited daughter. So did a daughter who wasn’t expecting it. But now when I’m a step removed (and know more about raising spirited kids), it is easier for me to celebrate the specialness of these kids who live so intensely.
I find myself helping the parents attach positive labels to their kids. I try to be specific. For example I might say, “She may be driving you nuts with all this energy and passion. I know it would be nice to have a quiet and peaceful house once in a while. But just think how great she will be as an employee or parent someday. She’s like that bunny with the batteries that never runs down.”
I also work with the grandkids in learning ways they can manage their intensity. One granddaughter is quick to voice her opinion on how people treat her. She is sensitive and perceptive – that is awesome. But she needs help in understanding when and where it is appropriate to share her feelings. And I celebrate the wonder of this child who will not let people treat her badly. I say, “You go girl.”
Mary Sheedy Kurcinka talked a lot about the importance of sleep. She said spirited kids suffer more from inadequate sleep and are prone to meltdowns. I remember the Christmas when the two spirited granddaughters, operating on too little sleep for too many days, had meltdowns at the same time. In fact I’m sure the whole family remembers that year. If nothing else we are fast learners, so we approached subsequent holidays and special events with attention to reasonable schedules.
We know the reactive, arousal ssytem is biological so I’m guessing someday I may be playing with a spirited great-grandchild. I’ll be ready and smiling!
When it comes to temperament, some kids are as dependable as pickup trucks, while others are as touchy as high-end sports cars. This month’s Science of Parenting podcast examines the “engine” that drives a child and how parents can manage spirited children.
ISU Extension publications
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