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Raising Your Spirited Child: A Guide for Parents Whose Child Is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, and Energetic Paperback – November 28, 2006

4.6 out of 5 stars 214 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"The book will prove to be a real lifesaver." --Louise Bates Ames, author and association director, Gessell Institute of Human "Through excellent examples and easy-to-read text, this book provides parents with a pathway to understanding their child's temperament and to a place where parents can balance the needs of their child's unique temperament with their own needs and those of their family." -- James Cameron, Ph.D., executive director, The Preventive Ounce, Berkeley, California

About the Author

Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, Ed.D., is the director of ParentChildHelp. She is an award-winning lecturer and parent educator. Dr. Kurcinka provides private consultations and workshops nationally and internationally for parents and for professionals serving families and children. She is also the bestselling author of Raising Your Spirited Child Workbook, Sleepless in America, and Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; Revised edition (November 28, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060739665
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060739669
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (214 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #27,364 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, M.A.,has more than twenty years' experience as a pioneer and award-winning educator in Minnesota's Early Childhood Family Education Program, and she is the founder of the Spirited Child workshops. A license teacher and parent educator, she lives with her husband and two children in Eagan, Minnesota.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read maybe 15 pages of this book before bursting into tears of relief. At 16 months old, my son has never been easygoing or mellow, but as he entered toddlerhood, I felt like I was failing as a mom because I couldn't control him. I didn't understand why other kids napped for hours, slept through the night at 6 months old, and adjusted quickly to new experiences, while my son still wakes up several times a night, rarely naps for more than an hour a day, and shrieked in rage when he had to start wearing shoes or when he didn't like how his socks felt. Other books recommended a stern, inflexible parenting approach that just resulted in MORE meltdowns, MORE stress, and MORE frustration. Did I mention that "cry it out" was an unmitigated disaster in our house?

Finally, this book validated him, and my husband and me. He's not "bad", we're not failing as parents. He's just more intense, more perceptive, and more sensitive. It takes different strategies for us to be successful and calm than for parents of more relaxed children, but the book really focuses on how to do that, how to help our child be successful with daily life. There are many different levels to any given "spirited child", so this book's scope is not limited to a high-energy kid. Introverts vs. extroverts, energy levels, sensitivity, and so much more are covered in depth. This is not a book about excusing poor behavior, though. The parent is absolutely still the one in charge and still has to work with the child to ensure that they can be spirited and still be productive, safe, and enjoyable members of their family.

If you feel like you're constantly battling it out with your child, that you've lost control, and/or that your child is running you ragged, I highly recommend this book. Oh, you'll probably learn a few things about yourself, as well.
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For years I've tried to make the glares, comments, and criticism from strangers, friends, and family about my child's behaviour roll off my back. Separation anxiety, sleeplessness, fear of pooping, public meltdowns, violent tantrums (ever been clocked by a three-year-old girl? Ouch.), needing to be held and carried constantly, seemingly excessive nursing, preferring to be naked, forgetting to eat, refusing to sit still. I've stood my ground about not crying it out, about not pushing to toilet train her (FYI: one day she just decided to wear panties and that was it), not forcing her to eat at the dinner table, and insisting on the family bed.

Sound familiar to you? It's been a lonely haul, it's tried my relationships -- but, finally, after reading this book I've realized that I'm not alone, my daughter is not all that unusual (falls well within the range of normal, is the term used in the book), and trusting my instincts about what my kiddo needed is the best thing for her. Raising Your Spirited Child celebrates our challenging kids and offers parents affirmation and hope.

The book teaches you to view seemingly negative traits in a positive way: stubborn is determined. Annoying is persistent. Kids who dawdle are perceptive. Introverted or extroverted are not good or bad, they just "are", and it's hardwired. And if you didn't have an inkling yourself: spirited kids are often ahead of the curve. More articulate. More imaginative. More fun (along with being more of a pain in the tush ;) )

For those reviewers who found few concrete steps to take with your spirited child, I would agree: there is no specific to-do list included in the book.
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This was a total eye opener when I originally purchased this book 10 years ago! (My son was 2 and my daughter was a newborn!)I've since recommended it and loaned it out so many times that my copy didn't come back the last time! (And I can't remember who has it now!) I both laughed & cried while reading it and I finished it in 1 night (newborn-remember?)It really helped both my husband and me see what WE were doing differently--not necessarily "wrong", just not RIGHT for our son--and WE made changes. (Note to the person who wrote "this book had no tips we could use": read it again & remember you're the parent who needs to guide the child.) We realized simple things--we shouldn't have taken him on numerous errands at the end of his day or WE paid for it (our son doesn't handle ANY change well and he still doesn't--he's 12 now!) We've had to teach HIM how to handle difficult situations. I'm now going to read it again to help with the preteen years for both of my children!
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Thanks so much Mary!

The thing with the truth is when it hits you it feels right in the deepest places of your soul. I believe that this book contained much truth.

Reading this book hit me for a six ( cricket terminology) when I realized I had been an introverted but spirited child (now an introverted and very intense adult)... and so is my son.

We clash all the time and I go from green to red without an amber and then there is the slap and the regret and the hurt in his eyes as he asks " Mommy, why did you do that?"

This book has been a godsend as I have discovered just from flitting through that I need to look for cues that he is nearing his red zone and even more of a shocker that I'm nearing mine.

I was honestly starting to resent my child and was so stressed by guilt that I was just tense all the time. Of course being sensitive he picked up on that and you know the rest.

Anyway this is a wonderfully reassuring and eye- opening book for parents who feel like they are honestly about to kill or be killed.

The lack of of negative reinforcement strategies resonated with me as I hate to punish my child and think punishment is cruel.

I have rediscovered my wonderfully intense and sensitive boy and that I love him so.

The book is written in such a way that I found myself laughing as I empathized with the parents mentioned and the various scenarios presented.

I highly recommend for families on the edge and for any parent who believes in the intrinsic goodness of his/her child... all be it well hidden.
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