On the long and winding road of our sleeplessness saga, I began researching child issues by temperament. If you think about it, it makes a lot of sense that an easy-going child is going need a different method of– everything — from a child who is more stubborn, or timid, or whatever.
There’s a lot of information out there on child temperament. Sleep consultant Rebecca Michi categorizes children as “easy,” “difficult,” and “slow-to-warm.” The easy child is, well, easy:
- Regular eating, sleeping, elimination cycles
- Not easily frustrated
- Adapts to change
- Good mood most of the time
Then there is the difficult child:
- Irregular eating, sleeping, and elimination cycles
- More easily frustrated
- Negative response to new situations, such as tantrums
- Slow to adapt to change
I have to admit that I have not read this book, only overviews online. These descriptions are so black and white, so divided, that I don’t find them helpful — at all. My daughter is bits of both. Irregular and easily — and loudly — frustrated, but she thrives on new people and places. In fact, she’s so social, she’s usually in a better mood at a big party then she is playing at home.
Raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka has a much more interested take on children who are not that easy to parent. She calls them “spirited” and refers to them as “more” children. She has her own spirited child and so she speaks from personal experience. Right off the bat, she lists traits of the spirited child, similar to Michi, but a bit more complicated. The gist is a spirited child is “more.” More intense, more persistent, more sensitive, more perceptive, and more uncomfortable with change. She also lists bonus characteristics, including irregular schedules (yes!), more energy (yes! yes!), more time to warm up to new things, and more serious mood.
Kurcinka emphasizes that not every spirited child possesses all of the traits, but her or she will possess enough to make them stand out. My daughter fits more bonus characteristics than the first 5 traits, so I am still not sure she would be considered spirited. If she’s not, that’s enough to make me seriously afraid of having another child. Maybe she’s actually going to be easygoing and I have yet to find out what a truly spirited child is??? Shudder.
Regardless, I think Raising Your Spirited Child is one of the more helpful baby/toddler/child/whatever books I’ve read (part of. Sorry, I have a spirited 1 year old baby. I’m busy.) to date. Kurcinka has a positive perspective on the more trying aspects of raising children who expect more from their parents (read: are demanding). It’s geared to kids who are a little older than mine, but it still gives me insight into her personality and what to do about it. If you, like me, suffer from night-waking-toddler induced insomnia and are looking for good midnight read (or 1 am, 3 am, and 5am read, I mean, who am I kidding?), check it out.