What is a Spirited Child?

When I first heard the term “spirited toddler”, I almost cried. Finally, I had a name for this wonderful (and exhausting) quality that set my little man apart from other kids his age. Once I did a little reading, I realized just how perfectly the label suited him.

Mary Sheedy Kurcinka had the best definition for “spirited”. In her book, Raising Your Spirited Child, she writes:

The word that distinguishes spirited children from other children is “more”. They are normal children who are more intense, persistent, sensitive, perceptive, and uncomfortable with change than other children. All children possess these characteristics, but spirited kids possess them with a depth and range not available to other children.

Aside from being a very good description for my son, Mary’s definition actually made me feel proud. Yes, I am exhausted. Yes, sometimes he drives me crazy. But, the things that challenge me at every turn are the same things that make my son so interesting and endearing. I would take a spirited toddler over a bump-on-a-log in a heartbeat. Many of these children grow up to be extremely successful, and our lives are never boring.

Unfortunately, many of the conventional methods for handling problems simply don’t apply to spirited toddlers. “Redirect,” my mother always suggests when my son gets into things he shouldn’t. I could pull out a firetruck filled with candy and puppies, and he would remain intently focused on the dishwasher buttons. “Ignore a tantrum”…Nice idea, but it is hard to ignore a child who can happily kick and scream for two hours.

If you think you have a spirited toddler though, don’t worry. There are plenty of resources out there to help you guide your child without breaking that beautiful spirit. I highly recommend Mary Sheedy Kurcinka’s book, Raising Your Spirited Child. It has been a life saver. Kurcinka is a parenting teacher and offers many real-life examples of spirited behavior as well as excellent solutions and ideas.

Of course, Wild Edisons is a great resource as well. 🙂

Tell us about your spirited toddler by leaving a comment below. We would love to hear from you!