I’m probably crazy but I started reading Raising Your Spirited Child the other day. I say crazy as the idea of me having any time at all to read is patently absurd on its own. I also am jockeying in my brain which book should be prioritized as #1 on the list should I have any time. Among those are the above title, the book on potty training1, and the 2nd book in the Game of Thrones series that my non-mom brain is screaming for. Don’t judge.
I had heard about the Spirited Child book (hereafter SC) while researching Stella’s lack of communication during our autism-scare days. Most recently, our pediatrician suggested it may be something I wanted to look into. I was partly offended by that. What? My kid is “spirited” you say? Maybe your kids are just lumps. So there.
But honestly, my kid does seem to be a bit higher-octane than many. I, myself, have lamented this from time to time – how she wears me out, her never-ending energy, how hard it is to keep up with her while pregnant and now recovering from Felix’s delivery. Her whole life, once she’s mastered a skill she does so with an almost ridiculous gusto. She skipped crawling and nearly skipped walking, proceeding directly to sprinting. I’m just as glad we live in an area bereft of topography as at least her climbing skills are limited by couches and countertops. I hate to think what she’d do with mountains and cliffs around. Once she started talking she’s never stopped. I know that’s not atypical, but my kid even talks in her sleep.
So SC it is. I’m not that far along but so far it is resonating. The author makes a big point of talking about labels and how they can ultimately be hurtful to the kids themselves –how parents treat them as well as other adults in their lives once they hear these labels. Self-fulfilling prophecies and all. Experiments were done, having parents re-frame their perspectives and rephrase these labels to those more positive, and their experiences with their kiddos were impacted for the better. That makes total sense. Wouldn’t you rather interact with a kid described as “curious and energetic” vs. “nosy and rowdy?”
Granted, I think Stella is the most awesome little girl in the world. Who else can spin around the bedroom for 13 minutes straight performing the most impressive Twinkle Twinkle-ABC Song mash-up I’ve ever heard? Not only were the songs blended, but she was alternating syllables rather than words2. I couldn’t have done that if I’d tried. Who else can wear out 2 parents and 4 grandparents in under 48 hours? Who else can run, run, run all day, not nap for a second, and still put up an hour and a half fight at bedtime despite obvious exhaustion?
Some of this is probably just toddler stuff that I’m sure most of them do. I’m just ignorant of each of these phases until we’ve lived it, as I’ve never been around these funny little people. But just observing her with many of her peers, and now comparing how she was then to how Felix is now, she does seem to have some extra oomph. So I shall try to read this book. It can’t hurt, and if it gives us some coping and discipline tips3 – something we’re desperate for around here – then all the better. I wouldn’t change a hair on my daughter’s head and ultimately if she is, in fact, “spirited,” I think it will only serve her well as a big kid and adult. I pity the boyfriend who tries to bully her or the boss who tries to demean her one day. She would eat them for lunch. I love it.
1 My dream was to get Stella potty trained while home on maternity leave. I now realize it’s almost halfway gone and the challenge of chasing her first thing in the morning when she has to poo in order to jam her butt on her potty chair one-handed due to the presence of Felix in my arms is a bit ambitious. So it’s time to reset. New approach.
2 Immediately after that she was watching me get dressed. She immediately dubbed my bra “seatbelts.” While not exactly an example of “spirited,” it was just funny and I thought I’d stick it in here.
3 Sometimes discipline is a breeze. Other times, not so much. How do you get a toddler to stay in time out or their room when they seem to not understand you? Brute force? Duct tape? And we’re not a huge fan of spankings. How can I tell Stella not to hit/kick the baby when we turn around and swat her on the butt? All of the standard tips – getting down on eye-level, calmly and succinctly giving commands, removing kid/stuff from situations – sometimes just don’t feel like enough.