My little girl is intense. Her reactions are bigger and louder than all of her peers. Sometimes when she yells or squeaks or squawks I am quick to be embarrassed or to want to shush her. I am the one with ‘that’ kid. The one who tells you exactly how she feels – even though we can’t always understand where that feeling is coming from at this point. But instead of shushing her or being embarrassed, I really want to be proud. My little girl may be ‘the loud one’ now, but she is also the clever and strong and persistent one and so often when I look at her and am completely exasperated by her intensity, by her complete and total ‘need’ for me, I see in through those explosive emotions and intensity that she is…me. She’s headstrong and driven…and yes a bit emotional. But she’s fun loving and giving and sometimes I get these glimmers of who she’s going to grow into and it’s both wonderful and terrifying. Because I know how hard that intensity can crash on the other end. I know how it is to go go go and give give give and then to collapse. And I want to protect her little heart from all of that. But I know she’ll have to learn, just as I have (and still am learning!), to measure and ration her energy. I’m reading this book about raising ‘spirited children’ right now and it’s really helping me to see her intensity in a positive light and to just feel like there are other parents out there who are struggling with the same things.
I think my psychiatrist also helped me see this a bit too. She said something once, quite rightly so, how I am always really concerned that people understand where I’m coming from and that I get really hurt or frustrated when they don’t. And I get upset when I can’t figure something out or things don’t pan out the way I expected. It’s the same with Clare. When she falls or something doesn’t go as she expected, she reacts very intensely. And while sometimes the intensity can really, really fry my nerves, I’m trying to be more cognizant of the fact that in a lot of ways she is a mini me. And I can celebrate her strengths and help her manage her energy and emotions as she grows rather than lament how challenging she can be. Because I never want her to feel like she’s strange because she’s the “tough one,” the “picky one,” the “high maintenance one.” I’ve been all of those things. I want her to know that it’s okay to be that way. In a lot of ways it’s awesome to be that way. So as that book suggests, I’m trying to even change my vocabulary around those things. We aren’t tough, picky or high maintenance, we are spirited, selective and know what we want and need. And that’s pretty neat, if I do say so myself. 🙂
Do you have a spirited child? How do you manage it? Share in the comments!