High spirited and strong willed children by Hilary Akman, LPC

November 8, 2014 in Uncategorized by ndfspeed1971

I have always felt my children have been my greatest teachers. And boy, did my first child give me a crash course! My son is a delightful high-spirited, intense, and sensitive boy. This means he feels his feelings strongly! The good, the bad, and the ugly!  While this makes him extremely affectionate and loving it can also leave him overwhelmed with big feelings, which gets expressed through behavior the best way he knows how in the moment. And it ain’t always pretty!

Outside looking in, the world would say, “That child needs to be hit, spanked, punished”,  fill-in-blank.  You get the picture! dcz_boy being abused or abducted by adult femaleBut I knew that wasn’t the answer and I struggled to find the best way to meet his needs without wearing myself out AND leaving everyone’s integrity still in tact!

I knew the behaviorist approach, like sticker charts, rewards, incentives, praise, time-outs, only contributed to a sense of  conditional love that so many children and adults struggle with today. In addition, I didn’t want to foster a sense of, “What’s in it for me?” and greed and approval seeking that these approaches can unintentionally create.

I wanted something deeper and more authentic for my family. I read lot of books and tried to integrate a lot on my own but found out pretty quickly that my triggers kept getting in the way.

This desire lead me to become a parent coach.  I knew that in my worst sleep deprived, frazzled, rage filled moments as a parent that these experiences were shaping me for something more, something greater in order to help other parents. It was in those moments that the seed began to take root to help other parents on their path to transformation.

First of all, let’s talk about what a high spirited child is not.  They are not a brat, they are not spoiled, they are not entitled.  These are all judgments that only look at behavior vs. examining the underlying needs and feelings that are driving the behavior. And if you just look at the behavior you are truly missing the greatness of these children.

So what does a high-spirited child look like? Dr. Michael Popkin gives an excellent acronym in his book, Taming the Spirited Child,  that I have listed in my recommended reading page.

The acronym is CAPPS: Curious, Adventurous, Powerful, Persistent, and Sensitive.  Does any of these describe your child?  While I encourage you to delve into the book to learn more, the purpose of this post is for you to begin to consider that all these traits that are so exhausting and seem so troublesome now are really going to serve your child well as they mature into teenagers and adults.  These are the traits of champions! When properly harnessed and cultivated these characteristics will serve your child well throughout their lifetime.  And spirited kids are much less likely to tolerate being bullied as well!

The questions to always ask yourself when triggered by these qualities and the behaviors that result are :

1. How can I BEST help my child use these characteristics in order to instill the values I want them to have?

2. At what cost to my child do I really want to continue to “change” them in order to extinguish these behaviors?

3. Am I willing to see beyond the behaviors, look deeper into their emotions underneath, and learn new skills so I can make a shift into how I parent them leaving their unique personality characteristics in tact?

One final thought I want to leave with you is that all people, kids included, are only behaving in ways to get their needs met.  Our job as parents are to help them meet their needs in a way that doesn’t violate others and helps them to function in the society in which we live.

If you want to know more and are ready to do something different so you can create a different kind of family life then, please contact me.  I can promise you that if you do nothing then nothing will change.