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!