If you have a spirited child, you probably know it. However, you may not realize that some of your child’s personality traits and temperament are common to spirited children. I believe knowing this allows parents to be more understanding of their child, which will help them be more patient during difficult times of parenting.
“The word that distinguishes spirited children from other children is the word more. They are normal children who…..possess [certain characteristics] with a depth and range not available to other children.” –Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, Raising Your Spirited Child
Characteristics of a Spirited (or High Need) Child
Spirited babies are often said to be “alert” by many spectators, as they often sleep less than the average baby. Along with this, many do not like to be held for long periods of time and like to be facing outward to observe the world. As soon as they are able to the spirited child will want to move about as much as possible. The spirited toddler and child will keep you on your toes and probably leave you exhausted at the end of every day. Their abundance of energy is envied by many, especially their parents.
Some spirited children are loud and dramatic, while others are quiet and observant. Whether their intensity is channeled outward or inward, their reactions are always powerful. Tantrums can be expected, with the frequency and length depending on your child’s level of intensity.
Some spirited children have a difficult time getting on a regular schedule. As babies, they will often need to freed frequently and have odd sleeping patterns. Because of this, they do not thrive well on a rigid schedule and may take a long time getting into a consistent routine.
A small percentage of spirited kids tend to be very serious and analytical. These children tend to be perfectionist and have a difficult time finding enjoyment in many things.
Little details are rarely missed by the spirited child. He may notice things that most people pass without a sideways glace. This can cause the child to be easily distracted and often accused of not listening.
Spirited children tend to be very goal-oriented. They do not easily give up. This can be a wonderful trait, but also a challenge, depending on the situation. Learning to guide this characteristic is extremely important for the child’s success.
Many spirited children are very sensitive. Some are easily over-stimulated and overwhelmed in crowds, others seem to have a hyper-sensitivity to sounds, smells, textures and light. Most are very aware of emotions, which can cause them to be very compassionate individuals. This will also allow them to absorb and reflect the emotions that others are feeling.
Uncomfortable with Change
Most spirited children don’t adapt well to changes. They usually need outside help from a trusted someone with transitions. Many will suffer from separation anxiety, especially when they are young. (This is how they get labeled “clingy” as a baby or toddler.)
While all children have some of these characteristics, a spirited child will display most, if not all of them. For more information about characteristics of a spirited child, you may find these resources helpful:
- Raising Your Spirited Child
- 12 Features of a High Need Baby
- Changing Personality Profile as a High Need Child Grows
What characteristics would you add to the list?