Saturday, June 23, 2007

He's Got the Spirit, Yes He Does!

Lately I've been reminded of the Samsonite gorilla. Do you remember that commercial? The gorilla is bashing around the luggage that is strong enough to take a beating. He's literally bouncing off the walls.

Why does this come to mind? Let's just say that his name is Kyle. He wakes up moving and shaking. In the afternoons when he's watching TV, he often runs in circles. Add to this that if he doesn't get his way, he gets very frustrated. Yesterday as we were getting out of the car, and I unbuckled his seatbelt. This made him wail because ever since we put him in his new carseat/booster, "I can do it myself." So I left the door open for him to get out and went to put some of the groceries in the freezer. I came back--not in a flash, but after putting away the perishables--to get more groceries. I expected to find him playing with his trucks or something, but he was still sitting in the car, his wail now more of a whimper. "Mommy, can you please fix it so I can do it?" Well, with a sweet request like that, I certainly can. So, I buckled him back up and he happily unbuckled himself and exited the vehicle.

As I was seeking advice from a friend with an older son who was/is high-energy, I remembered a resource that had helped me regroup mentally when I struggled with Amanda's persistent talking and energy in that area as a preschooler. This book is priceless:

Raising Your Spirited Child opens a parent's eyes to the unique challenges, and yes, unique joy, of raising a child who is "more."
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. Spirited kids are the Super Ball in a room full of rubber balls. Other kids bounce three feet off the ground. Every bounce for a spirited child hits the ceiling (page 7).

I sat down and took the assessment which allows you to rate your child in nine of these areas. On a 45 point scale, Amanda is a 20 and Kyle is a 23, with 19 - 28 being Spunky, and above that being Spirited, and below that being Cool. When I read it the first time when Amanda was this age, I realized that although I wasn't dealing with a true Spirited child, she was very high in Persistence and Perceptiveness (Distractibility), so reading this book helped me in those areas. Kyle also is high in these two areas, adding Intensity and Energy to the mix.

If you have a child who you suspect is Spirited or simply Spunky, this book will allow you to breathe a sigh of relief as you say, "It is not my fault. I am not a horrible parent. My child is wired this way, and there are some ways I can harness those qualities in a positive way."

This book review is linked up to Semicolon's Saturday Review of Books.


Corinne said...

Hi, Jennifer. I love this book, too, as it helped me so much when my youngest (now 6) was a toddler. Her difficult areas are super-sensitivity to any type of change, in addition to the fact that she is so physically sensitive to certain textures (the toe seam on a pair of socks, for example) that we were both in tears and I was late for work almost every morning as I struggled to get her out the door, and then again as she screamed and held onto me at the door of the preschool. This book helped me understand her better and be more patient, rather than hating myself every morning. Thanks for reminding me - maybe I should re-read it now that she's older with different issues!

monica - books are our friends said...

i wish i had a clone available to read all the parenting/homeschooling books i want to read! this looks good. thanks for the tip.

Marianna said... I ever need to read this book. Two children, intense in different ways. DS talks constantly (mostly questions it seems), volume increasing as he goes...Perfectionistic DD who must always be first!

Off to the library's site to see if they have this one!

Carrie said...

Do they give much indiction of being that way from the age of, oh, say, 8 months? Becauase I'm chasing him ALL over the house. From the moment he wakes up to the moment he goes down for bed (at 10:30 p.m.!) he's bouncing all over the place and jabbering almost non-stop.

I shall remember this book. =) THanks!

Lori said...

Jennifer, I do remember reading a bit of this book back when Perry was younger. I always thought he was "very spirited" when he was younger, but I now feel he is just "spunky."

Cute story about Kyle and the booster seat.

Katrina said...

Yes, yes, yes, love this book. I've needed it for Camden, and I know I'll need it for Logan, too. I saw it's been "updated," so I want to check out the new edition. Camden rated "Spirited" -- but just barely. He's really high in a couple areas, but really calm in some others. We'll see what happens with Logan, but he is most definitely "more."

Katherine@Raising Five said...

I think I have at least one spirited child, a superball who hits the ceiling EVERY time. Hmm, now you've piqued my interest!