my spirited, intense child

I tried to read “The Strong Willed Child” by James Dobson and just had to put it down. Not only does the author suggest “praying every night with your hands on the child” as an actual solution to behavioral problems, but he also advocates for corporal punishment. This includes: spanking, paddling, smacking hands/knuckles, and squeezing a muscle so that it is painful. Yikes! I’m not going to do any of that! I was only looking for some guidance as to how to cope with a very strong-willed child, who can occasionally make certain situations quite stressful with her defiance. I certainly wasn’t expecting to read “beat the child when the situation calls for it”.

I switched to “Raising Your Spirited Child” by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka. It’s definitely much more along my lines of parenting… I especially like the re-labeling chapter. My child is bossy a natural leader, demanding and agressive assertive and confident, dramatic experiences her emotions fully, distractable extremely observant of everything in her world, and stubborn excellent at working toward her own goals with diligence. All of these things are true, but although I can get awful frustrated with her (ok, sometimes blind with fury in the moment), I very much admire all of these qualities she comes by so naturally. She most certainly will have in-born leadership skills, will be able to stand-up for herself without hesitation, and will know what she wants and go after her dreams with voracity. Her attention to detail and ability to question the status quo will most certainly give her an extra boost when it comes to pursuing her goals.

I sometimes need reinforcement, though, even if in the form of the written word, when it comes to teaching her to ‘obey her mother’, not physically hurt others, and understand that she cannot get away with murder because she is more persistent than I. I simply have to be more persistent in this regard, and that’s not easy. She comes by her steadfast pursuit of pushing my buttons naturally, I feel like less than a natural at establishing that I am in charge!

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Categories: parenting

6 Comments »

  1. As a child, I think I was basically the opposite of a “spirited” child. And I’m not a very dominant/assertive person in my adulthood, either. I could easily be steamrolled by a child with a strong will, I would imagine!

    My friend Teri has a 3.5 year old who is a spirited girl, and she read that same book (not the Dobson one) and said it really helped her breathe a sigh of relief to know that she wasn’t just raising a “brat”, and that these are actually GOOD qualities to have, just more difficult qualities to manage when raising a toddler!

  2. I think the Dobson book is the one a few different parents used and ended up killing their children. One was an adopted girl. It is very scary and I know there was a petition to get Amazon to stop selling it! I was going to suggest the one you switched to, so I’m glad you found it. I think there is a lot of power in the words we use, especially with and about our kids.

    • I think that was To Train Up A Child, by Mike and Debi Pearl, which, if you can imagine, is even worse… That being said, Dobson’s nonsense could easily result in the same scenarios. They have zero regard for basic child development realities, and clearly see children as a mere extension of themselves, not as their own little humans. And that’s the mildest complaint I can lodge about their collective horrificness.

  3. I own the the spirited child book and haven’t read it yet, but another similar my mom gave me that you might want to check out (haven’t read this one either :P) is called “you can’t make me! But I can be persuaded” or something along those lines 🙂

    I try my best to focus on the positive adjectives too- determined vs diva/dramatic, assertive, confident etc

    I always say I know my 4 yr old is going to be a strong confident woman, a force to be reckoned with, all great things I want to encourage- just exhausting to parent lol.

  4. Omg I can’t stand James Dobson’a philosophy on parenting or family. (Shudders.) A book I like a lot is called Parenting Without Power Struggles. I bought it because a lot of it applies to older kids as well, so I expect I’ll refer to it later on also. I think your daughter and mine have some wonderful and challenging similarities!

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