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A spirited child is a child who is seen by his or her parents as challenging and resistant to discipline or highly energetic and moody. Typically, raising a spirited child is no different than raising a standard child in terms of strategy, but it does require more effort and more energy to maintain parenting techniques. The challenges involved in raising a spirited child primarily revolve around the frustrations of having a disobedient or energetic child. Parents of spirited children usually recognize that this type of child will eventually respond to basic parenting techniques but that it will take more patience to implement them.
Having a spirited child can be tiring for a parent, so the first thing to remember when raising a spirited child is to take time to maintain the parent's sanity. Resenting one's own children is not healthy, and being constantly bombarded by the desires of a needy and irrepressible child can be bad for parental health. Only a healthy and patient parent can be expected to deal with the needs of a spirited child, so taking care of one's self is paramount.
Raising a spirited child involves more patience and willpower but very few changes in strategy when compared to raising a standard child. For example, a standard child might need to be given an ultimatum in order to cease a bout of arguing, but that ultimatum typically does not result in the child taking the negative option. With a spirited child, the child may take the negative option in order to challenge the adult's authority. All the adult needs to do is follow through, which may take willpower.
Being consistent is essential when raising a spirited child. If a parent threatens punishment, he or she must follow through with that punishment. Boundaries must be established and maintained. When a child knows precisely what the rules are, transgressions can be dealt with logically and routinely. Eventually, most children learn discipline.
When problems go beyond basic tantrums and disobedience, incentives can help bring a spirited child back into a manageable path. Some children do not respond to punishments no matter how harsh, but they may respond to the possibility of getting something they want. Changing parenting tactics can also help, although changes should be discussed with the child in order to be clear.
Given that raising a spirited child is difficult, there are many support groups available that can offer unique strategies for dealing with these children. Not only can parents meet other parents who may have similar problems, but children can also be set up to play with one another and possibly learn better behavioral skills through socialization. When parenting becomes too difficult to handle, professional help is always an option.
@Grivusangel -- I think your cousin was right on. Sometimes, you have to go through some uncomfortable scenes to create consistency and make sure that the child always has clear, understandable expectations.
If the child is apt to push boundaries, knowing those boundaries aren't going to give helps the child understand that behavior has consequences, good or bad, and eventually, the child will get the idea that pushing the limits does not get the desired result.
Being clear and consistent, no matter how tough it gets, will help the parents and the child, too.
My cousin's oldest daughter was a spirited child. Her mom and dad presented a united front, which meant she couldn't play one parent against the other.
The other thing that helped them was absolute consistency. If a punishment or reward was promised for a certain action, they followed through. This gave the child the security of knowing that promises, positive or negative, would be kept. This enabled her mom to set clear boundaries that had clear consequences for being broken.
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