Raising Your Spirited Child Book Review

Hey there all, just finished reading this one Raising Your Spirited Child, Third Edition: A Guide for Parents Whose Child Is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, and Energetic Mary Sheedy Kercinka, ED.D. .  This one was a bit longer than a few of the others that I have been reading – came in just shy of 500 pages.  It also sat in my truck for a while, next to my bed for a while and a number of other places after I had purchased it.  At first I had purchased it because my youngest was having “issues” at daycare and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.. after all, as far as I/we could tell he was super sensitive and while maybe rough housed a bit here and there.. he wasn’t categorically a “problem” child.. We have since left that daycare and have moved onto one that is able to identify him as a “regular” child…  that is.. not problematic.. yes very sensitive yes sometimes a little rough.. but overall.. another special, and as this book would phrase it “spirited” child.

So why choose to read this book?  The header: A guide for parents child is more intense, sensitive, perceptive, persistent, and energetic.  There is was in a nutshell.  I think that it captured our child/children actually and to be honest, I am very glad I picked this one up.  You and I know that there is no manual for children when you are sent home with them, however, this one comes close.. at least for the age group, we are currently undergoing – 5-7. How so you may ask..

One of the primary reasons I enjoy this book is that it helped to adjust the mindset of how we are dealing with our children in some very positive ways.  It also helps to identify whether or not you and your child may be introvert/extrovert, handy ways to help in all scenarios.  Another topic that was covered with some awesome information was mealtime.   Overall, this book had a real positive impact on my noggin, let me go ahead and augment the details below:

Adjusting the mindset factor – this was done in part by the labels section, while this was not new information, it was information that had been expanded for me.  She had written about a group session where the parents were asked to write labels that discussed their children on “bad” days.  Below is an excerpt of some of the labels:

demanding, defiant, dictator, explosive, stubborn, rude, whiny, picky

She goes on to discuss what labels do to us:

These labels tend to put us in our fight or flight zone.  What Mary titles “The red zone”.  In this zone, we experience tunnel vision.  Totally attuned to the potential threat, we lose our ability to think, to solve problems, to hear the voices of other, or to look them in the eye.  These reactions make it impossible to empathize with our children.  Instead of drawing us toward our children to offer comfort and care, the negative labels programs our brains to be ready for “battle.”

After reading that alone, there were a number of ways I felt about myself.. even if I didn’t use labels often or didn’t think that I had, I may have been doing it unconsciously.. and it could be driving a wedge in the relationship with my children or at the very least, not setting them up for success.  Luckily, Mary has some helpful information on how we can redesign these labels:


Old Negative Labels New Exciting Labels
demanding holds high standards
monster madman creative
destructive passionately curious
defiant principled
unpredictable flexible
whiny expressive
explosive passionate
picky selective
single-minded focused
loud zestful

This was not the entire list, but I think you get the picture.  Try it yourself, I believe that you will find that you will find the impact that it has on your mental state as well.. perhaps even if you look back, you may have been called one of these as you grew up, imagine if that label had been changed for you..

I am not going to go to deep on the introvert/extrovert section except to say that once I had reviewed this section it shed a lot of light on how our family interacts on the whole and to be honest, it is a section that I will refer to a few more times to digest.  It is fair to say that this really is as close to a manual for raising children/interacting with family as I have ever seen.  Not that I had been shopping around for one. Fate?  All depends on what you believe in.

Finally, on the short list of all of the helpful information, I found in this book was the chapter on mealtime.  If you have ever been guilty of staring at your child until they take the next bite of broccoli, or had your child as if they had eaten enoug.. or have used desert to reward or punish for eating a complete meal, then this chapter is for you.

Mary lists surprise, apprehension, excitement, disappointment, dismay, disgust and joy as the list of emotions that our spirited children may experience when they sit down to eat dinner.  That is unless we work together as a team.  She goes on to say that our children can discriminate between name brands; they have defined rules about what foods may touch each other or be mixed together.  According to Mary, these spirited children are not really that different than many other children and that all young children are prone to food jags (insisting on eating one particular food) or food strikes.  She talks about them spitting out their food as they learn the textures, or all the wiggling in the chairs and generally eating erratically. It is almost like she is sitting at our dinner table and writing down what she sees.  She then states that this is simply an average child at the dinner table. She discusses eating habits, the ebbs and flows and generally states that as long as your child is eating at least one whole meal per day they are eating well.  A ton of other information can be found in here, such as maybe take your energetic kids to a park to let them run off some steam before trying to take them out to eat at a restaurant.  Simple information that hadn’t really ever dawned on me before!  Much much more can be found in this chapter that is going to make a difference at my house!

Look, I recommend this book on a you could live without it to a but why?  Scale.. if you have children, that ever make you even the slightest bit nutty then I would recommend you purchase this book, and keep it nearby!

If you made it this far thenthank you!  Please be sure to join the mailing list or leave a comment in the comments section!

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