Spirited Children: Where Does Your Child Fit?

Some children are harder to handle than others. Often described as difficult, sensitive, challenging or spirited, these children can become much easier to manage when you learn how broad the range of “normal” is, what to expect once you’ve gained a better understanding of your child’s temperamental tendencies and strategies to promote desired behavior.

It helps to understand that what you’re dealing with are dimensions of temperament, according to Rita and John Sommers-Flanagan, authors of Problem Child or Quirky Kid? – A Commonsense Guide for Parents. They suggest you consider where your child might fall on each of these spectrums:

• activity level

• preference for things to be regular and rhythmic

• tendencies to approach or withdraw

• adaptability to a variety of settings

• responsiveness to things around them

• intensity of response and interactions

• general mood

• attention span or distractibility

• mode of interacting with others.

“Every child varies on all these dimensions, and just because your child is different and perhaps a challenge to your parenting skills doesn’t mean she or he is disturbed or diagnosable,” they say. “But certain unusual behaviors – a strong aversion to touch, extremely narrow and repetitive interests, a total lack of social interaction – might signal a disorder and the need for professional help.”

Learn More...

  • Raising Kids Who are "More" of Everything

  • Strategies for Coping

  • Types of Difficult Kids

  • Where Does Your Child Fit?

  • Spirited or Difficult Kids: Resources

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