Raising Your Sensitive, Persistent, and Energetic Child
Parenting is not an easy task. And parenting a child who is full of energy, enthusiasm and determination is challenging to another level. Spirited children know what they want, have large emotions and ambitions, and have a difficult time with transitions. Raising a spirited child who is more sensitive, persistent and energetic than other “easygoing” children is tough.
There are some habits and coping mechanisms that can help both the parent and child to thrive:
Practice Patience: More than any other trait, patience is the most required skill for a parent of a spirited child, and perhaps the hardest to maintain. Take a timeout, when you’re being tested on a daily basis for the minutest of tasks. Find ways to keep your cool, take a breath, count to ten, practice just listening. Sometimes removing yourself from the situation can be the best way to help your child cope.
Create a Child-Friendly Environment: Having an environment where you are more likely to say “Yes” to your child can help to keep your little one calm. Let them feed themselves, wear their own shoes, pick their own clothes, jump on certain sofas. It may be a little less Pinterest-perfect home, but it will give your child an increased sense of independence and create a more cooperative atmosphere in the house.
Slow Down: While we may be in a hurry sometimes to stick to a timetable, rushing your high-spirited child is always going to be a losing battle. They inherently need to be self-reliant and will want to accomplish tasks themselves. This will mean you need to give them the time to do things the whole way through.
The Concept of Do-Over: Explain to your child that mistakes can be corrected. Rather than entering into conflict mode and having a flaring temper, you can empower your child to change his behaviour. “I just realized that you started to scream when I asked you to wear your shoes. Let’s do a do-over and begin again. You want to think about how you will respond this time?”
Set Routines: All children like to know what’s coming next. For spirited children it is all the more important to avoid the anxiety of not knowing what is going to happen. Having set routines for most things that happen through the day will give them comfort and build a foundation for them to function better.
Avoid Negative Labels: Be careful about how you, and others around you are describing your child. Persistence, high-energy and sensitivity are the very traits we attribute to success in adulthood. Then why the rush to label a spirited child as “exhausting” or “stubborn” or a “crybaby”? People like to give unsolicited advice about how to manage your so-called “difficult” child. But no one knows your child like you do, use positive language while discussing your child with teachers and relatives and they’ll see his good side too.
Last, but not the least, to give the best care to your child, you need to take care of yourself too. Have a support system which is able to help you take enough rest & rejuvenation so that you can give the best care to your child.
Read up (and have your partner read as well) so that you can understand your spirited child better. Some great reference books are “Raising Your Spirited Child” by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, “The Fussy Baby Book” by William and Martha Sears, “The Difficult Child” by Stanley Turecki and Leslie Tonner, and “Living with the Active Alert Child” by Linda Budd.
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