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499 of 508 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, some GOOD advice!
How many times had I heard, "yup, he's all boy" or "he sure is active", or "he just needs a good spanking"...but I always felt that no one truly understood what I was going through with my "spirited" child. I read "The Strong Willed Child" by Dobson, I read "The Dicipline Book" by Dr. Sears, still nothing...
Published on February 1, 2001

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115 of 125 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not a realistic book
Some of the advice in this book was good- particularly the parts that remind parents children aren't displaying inappropriate behaviour intentionally. However, I found that I followed this book to a tee for about two years. What I ended up with was a child with no ability to tolerate anything unpleasant- waiting in line, being quiet at the library, basically she did...
Published on February 8, 2004 by Mary


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499 of 508 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, some GOOD advice!, February 1, 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Raising Your Spirited Child: A Guide for Parents Whose Child Is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, Energetic (Paperback)
How many times had I heard, "yup, he's all boy" or "he sure is active", or "he just needs a good spanking"...but I always felt that no one truly understood what I was going through with my "spirited" child. I read "The Strong Willed Child" by Dobson, I read "The Dicipline Book" by Dr. Sears, still nothing seemed to explain the problems I was having with my child. I had just about decided that I must have done something wrong to make him behave the way he does, when I found this book. What a relief! It isn't anything I have done to make my son the way he is. But the book gave me such practical and effective advice on how to work with his personality instead of against it.
Any parent of a spirited child will tell you that traditional discipline techniques don't work. Time outs? Are you kidding? I'dd have to tie my kid into a chair or lock him in his room! Now I realize what sets him off and I can often avoid the "naughty" behavior. No more quick trips to the bank or grocery store after preschool. He is totally tapped out by the time he gets home, and it is time for quiet/alone time in his room so he can recharge and be sociable again.
My parents kept telling me he should be sleeping through the night, when at age 2 he still was waking up during the night. In their eyes, he was just spoiled. "Let him cry" they would say. What they didn't understand, was that a spirited child does not cry themselves to sleep like other children, they cry themselves awake! Sometimes to the point of vomiting because they get so worked up!
I could go on and on, but the bottom line is, this book truly saved my sanity. I feel like a better parent as a result of it and I know my relationship with my son has improved dramatically.
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181 of 184 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the most positive childrearing book I've ever read., October 31, 1996
By A Customer
This review is from: Raising Your Spirited Child: A Guide for Parents Whose Child Is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, Energetic (Paperback)
OK, so I was totally flabbergasted and flummoxed with rearing my first-born. He was a joy and a gift, but with energy beyond other children (and adults!!) and a stubborn streak a mile wide.

Still, I couldn't bring myself to read childrearing books with titles that made my son sound horrible (I wasn't raising a difficult child, I was having difficulty raising my child).

Then, a real gift -- Mary Sheedy Kurcinka's RAISING YOUR SPIRITED CHILD. Ms Kurcinka is a professional and a parent, and she understands that parents need a)help, and b)humor. Her positive attitude about children, and her down to earth discussions of the needs of parents, children and families were a welcome relief.

If you think that your child is more energetic and/or sensitive and/or persistant than other kids, you are right; and if you think others don't understand your frustrations, you are also right. Ms. Kurcinka explains that "spirited" children _are_ different than most others, and need different approaches. She guides the reader to understand what makes these special children tick, and why parents react the way they do to their children.

She also urges a positive, rather than a negative, view of these childrens' differences. From the feelings we have to our kids to the words we use to describe them, we shape who they are and how we treat them. Ms. Kurcinka shows how to enjoy and celebrate the energy and talents of children whose temperaments are outside the norm.

We were fortunate to read this book when our spirited son was two -- and doubly grateful when his spirited sister arrived a year later!! If you are frustrated with the books available about children, or if you want a positive, practical book about extraordinary kids, this is the one.
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294 of 305 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Astoundingly Helpful!, May 1, 2000
By 
Jocelyn L. Smith "jessiegrrl" (Johnson City, TN United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Raising Your Spirited Child: A Guide for Parents Whose Child Is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, Energetic (Paperback)
This book is a real lifesaver. Upon purchasing it, I tore through it in one night and then settled down for a more in-depth study. All I can say is, it's really amazing! It helps parents of what are traditionally called "strong-willed" children to redefine their children as "spirited."

This is not to say the book advocates letting your child rule the roost. In fact, careful reading will reveal that the objective for parents of a spirited kid is to help him learn to cope with the world he lives in with socially acceptable behavior (obeying house rules, for example) without having to change the personality he was born with. It really helps the parent learn about their child's weaknesses and strengths and gives the parent many techniques that have proven to be effective.

The author is herself the mother of two, one of whom is "spirited" and is now in his twenties. I found her sympathetic writing style to be extremely readable and the use of a hypothetical class (based on real-life classes the author has taught for many years) of parents to make the assimilation of information much easier than it might have been otherwise.

Especially helpful were the sections on sleeping, coping with difficult school situations, and social strategies. Readers who might be turned off by "Parenting the Fussy Baby and High Need Child" author William Sears' recurrent advocation of Attachment Parenting will find most principles here have nothing to do with that parenting style (although the author does say not to be afraid to take the baby in bed with you if you all sleep better that way). Those who do Attachment Parent will find nothing here to contradict their childrearing beliefs. It is a happy medium between "Parenting the Fussy Baby and High Need Child" and Dobson's "The Strong-Willed Child."

I do feel one caveat should be added--since I originally read the book, my son has been diagnosed with Sensory Integration Dysfunction. Many of the spirited child characteristics are shared (in spades) by children with this disorder. Parents should be careful not to allow the information in this book to lull them into a false sense of well-being if their gut (or their pediatrician, or their child's teacher) tells them that something is really wrong.
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90 of 92 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I was a perfect parent , until I had children, January 4, 2006
By 
Veronica Canfield (San Antonio, Texas United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Raising Your Spirited Child: A Guide for Parents Whose Child Is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, Energetic (Paperback)
I have my master's degree in education and I thought I knew it all when it came to children and how to handle their behaviors. I even worked in a residential treatment center for 8 years, specifically dealing with emotionally disturbed and ODD (oppositional defiant disorder) children. I was the perfect parent- until I had a spirited child of my own. He is now three and I use to shake my head and read my old grad. texts to discover where I was going wrong. I questioned therapist at the hospital I worked at and early childhood educators that also worked with challenging behaviors. I read "How to Talk so your Children will Listen and how to Listen so your Children will Talk", "Positive Parenting", "8 Weeks to Well Behaved Child" and many more. They simply did not cover how to deal with a really bright, stubborn, perfectionist preschooler. This is a kid who watched "Chicken Little" once and promptly showed me how to burp from a-h (they do that particular bit of humor in the movie). He had just turned three a couple of weeks before and we had not even introduced him to the ABC's. He is a whirling dervish of energy with a continual need to find out and try on his own. Think ferret meets Dexter (really smart cartoon kid) from Dexter's Laboratory. The other books applied to regular kids, like my daughter.

I previously use to think, "Hey, what's your problem, can't you control your own kid?" Now I know the answer can sometimes be "No, not with the tools I was given for the standard kid package most people bring home from the hospital. Heck, I'm just trying to stay on step ahead of him."

This book helps to make me see my child in a new light and change how I deal with his behaviors. Once we understood each other, things began to fall in line. Knowing how he thinks helps me to apply the correct methods to see results. We are no longer fighting each other for control. I also do not feel the need to glare at my mother when she mentions that I need to spank him more. That does not work for him. I would have to literally abuse him in order for physical intimidation to become effective. I don't believe in beating my children, I'm just funny that way (read- sarcasm).

Leave the other books for the parents of the regular "out of control" child. This is for the "exceptional out of control" child. If you have one you know it. If this review makes no sense to you, try 123 Magic.

P.S. Another post simply blasted the book by asking the question, "Is it that your child is spirited or just a pain in the rear?" After reading her review I questioned if she even read the book or had children. After checking her other reviews it seemed a good many of them were on expecting a child and breastfeeding. Ha! Is she in for a surprise when she finds out children do not always act like they are described in a book. Real life and books are two total different things. After all, I was the perfect parent until I had kids to prove me wrong!

*Update: I have now added "Setting Limits on Your Strong-Willed Child" to my arsenal. Understanding these kinds of kids is just the first step. Working with their personality is the next. My kiddo really needed structure and to ALWAYS know the limits and the consequences involved. "Setting Limits" really helped with this. I am now incorporating a bit of both into my elementary classroom of three severely emotionally disturbed boys. Yes, I only have three kids in my classroom (with the help of a male assistant), but outside of residential treatment we provide the most restrictive setting there is.
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58 of 59 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Life (and sanity) saving strategies for intense kids!, January 2, 2005
This review is from: Raising Your Spirited Child: A Guide for Parents Whose Child Is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, Energetic (Paperback)
A lifesaver

Certainly this shouldn't be the first or only parenting book you read and you will have to pick and choose those suggestions that seem suited to the challenges your child's temperament poses. But if many of the approaches suggested in conventional parenting books seem ineffective because they don't account for the temperament of your spirited child, you should definitely read this book, as well as "The Difficult Child" by Stanley Turecki.

After I'd read about a dozen parenting books, I was still tearing out my hair with my first. I knew from when he was in utero, as he tried to kick his way out forcefully, that my first child was a force to be reckoned with. He was the loudest baby in the hospital and continued in this vein--emotionally intense, loud, physically active. He was always in motion, in a hurry to get to the "next" thing rather than being a happy, content baby and toddler, a perfectionist, mad as hell if anything or anyone got in his way or if he didn't perform some skill perfectly the first time. He walked at nine months and immediately became an indefatigable explorer: he figured how out to undo the first type of locks we installed on the toilets and systematically identified any drawer or cabinet that was not equipped with the most stringent child safety protection. At 18 months, he scrambled up our 8 foot stone retaining wall, clinging to the top and proudly proclaiming "mommy, I climb" before I could snatch him. At about age two he tried to climb over the second floor balcony railing, so we extended all of the railings vertically with 3 feet of lucite. We had people come over and laugh at the extent to which we'd been forced to 'babyproof' our house and he still ended up at the ER 3 times before his third birthday. I only half-jokingly referred to him as Evil Kneivel. And, when his blood sugar was low, he hadn't slept well, it was 4-6PM (the "witching hour" of the day), or given any other small trigger, his meltdowns could astonish other parents, who'd never seen anything like it from their own children. They were louder, longer, more intense, often impossible to predict or to manage once they'd started. Learning to manage a kid with this temperament (even to keep him safe) and, more importantly, teaching him to eventually manage his own spirited temperament has been keenly frustrating at times. One has to always see ahead to what is going to trigger the next meltdown and help an often defiant kid to recognize that they are tired, hungry, should go on to a new activity instead of blowing up over not being able to immediately do something perfectly, etc.

However, two years after having begun to use (in an integrated way) the information in this book, the other book mentioned above and conventional parenting books, I have a wonderful, interesting, basically socially well-adjusted kid. He's gone from where I worried that he'd be labeled the problem child in any classroom to where he's learned enough self-management that his intensity can finally shine through as determination, curiosity, energy--his friends and teachers can finally see the wonderful, spirited kid that was buried all along under all of that oppositional behavior. He will never have a laid-back, easy going personality, but I now can actively hope to see his intensity take him as far as he wants to go.

This book truly helped me to get beyond the non-productive feelings of "why is my kid so much tougher than other people's, how on earth do I handle this, why do many problem-solving approaches in typical parenting books seem inadequate or just plain wrong for dealing with my child. There are lots of suggestions for how to productively handle particular aspects of your "spirited" child's personality that makes him or her tough to manage. And perhaps more importantly, this book helps one to remain positive through the challenges that such kids pose, to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Although it took a lot more consistency and patience to curb my son's impulsive behavior, to teach him to treat his friends and parents with respect, and to teach him how to manage his own spirit, it is a lifetime investment.
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46 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insight & Practical Strategies to More Cooperation & Sanity, September 19, 2004
This review is from: Raising Your Spirited Child: A Guide for Parents Whose Child Is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, Energetic (Paperback)
Mary gives lots of insight and many how-to's to parents of children that are far more challenging on a daily basis than the average kid. I appreciate the postive tone of this book. Too many times my husband and I want to just give up on this child and say something like, "Well, at least his brother and sister are good!" I am learning to accept what I simply can not change now that I really understand how our temperaments and personalities interact with each other. However, due to this book I have changed my attitude as far as labeling my four year old as "the difficult child." That does become a self-fulfilling prophesy! So many of the strategies in this book have been working and there is a lot more peace and cooperation in my home. It feels so good to be reassured that other kids say and do things that test a parent's sanity and that all of us moms and dads regret what we say and do from time to time. I also want to recommend a very compatible book of quick read suggestions called THE POCKET PARENT. It shares the same compassionate friendly tone, as well as a variety of awesome short real-life anecdotes. This pocket-sized book is fun to read...no paragraphs, just hundreds of specific bullets of helpful tips arranged in an A-Z easy reference of topics (such as bad words, bedtime, biting, hitting and hurting others, interrupting, mealtime, morning crazies, the gimmes, separation anxiety, and whining). Both books give lots of support, a good dose of humor and sensible advice from a positive discipline bent without being preachy nor condescending. THE SPIRITED CHILD is geared to kids of all ages while THE POCKET PARENT is written only for parents of toddlers and preschoolers (2's, 3's, 4's, and 5's). Both books are worthy additions to your library, convenient to refer to over and over again as the need arises.
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115 of 125 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not a realistic book, February 8, 2004
By 
Mary (Brantford, On) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Raising Your Spirited Child: A Guide for Parents Whose Child Is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, Energetic (Paperback)
Some of the advice in this book was good- particularly the parts that remind parents children aren't displaying inappropriate behaviour intentionally. However, I found that I followed this book to a tee for about two years. What I ended up with was a child with no ability to tolerate anything unpleasant- waiting in line, being quiet at the library, basically she did whatever she felt like and the book advised that this is the way to parent spirited children. I then read the book The Omnipotent child, implemented the advice in that book, and my life changed. Now a year later what I can see clearly is that in Raising Your Spirited Child it gives parents licence to not hold their children responsible for anything they do. The problem with this logic is other people don't really care if your child is "Spirited"- teachers and friends aren't going to say it's okay that your child didn't join circle, or wouldn't cooperate at play time because they are spirited. Parents need to discipline their spirited children lovingly but persistently. Parents need to help their spirited children deal with their sensitivities in such a way that they are still able to function in the real world. My advice- Read Dr. Thomas Millar's "the Omnipotent Child". You will be thrilled that you did!!!!
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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Indispensable Book: NOT a Hall Pass for Bad Behavior!!!!, January 13, 2005
By 
This review is from: Raising Your Spirited Child: A Guide for Parents Whose Child Is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, Energetic (Paperback)
I read this book a year and a half ago when I had sought professional counseling in dealing with me very strong-willed two-year-old. This book was recommended as well as 1-2-3 Magic. This book did WONDERS for me as a mother and my mother-child relationship. Why? It helped me understand my own and my daughter's temperament. It gave me straightforward, practical advice in working WITH and not AGAINST her temperament. IN NO WAY did it advocate allowing my child to misbehave or or let her think she was the center of the universe. She is now 4 and in her first year of preschool. She's doing beautifully interacting with others, knows and usually follows house rules, and understands her parents are the authority. She is blossoming into the wonderful person I knew she could be and I feel more calm and confident being her parent. I wanted to write this review because of the others here that say this book is about letting the child rule the roost. This book is about understanding who your child is as a person so you can help them meet their needs and gain cooperation in the process...all the while respecting your own needs and the needs of other family members. I think the bad reviews are a matter of misinterpretation on the part of those readers. I would have for others to be discouraged from reading this book when it is such a worthwhile resource for anyone dealing with a determined, persistent, and intense child.
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34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thank God for Mary Sheedy Kurcinka!, June 6, 2001
By 
This review is from: Raising Your Spirited Child: A Guide for Parents Whose Child Is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, Energetic (Paperback)
That's what I said when I sat down in the bookstore and read the intro to this wonderful book that is now my parenting Bible. I couldn't believe my intense RELIEF at being understood--after just a few pages! It's like this woman had been listening in on our baby monitor. The patterns, the reactions, the frustration, and the intense desire to learn how to raise my daughter lovingly in a harmonious (nonreactive) household were all there, along with the reassurance that we could achieve that goal and no, we weren't bad or crazy parents.
My daughter's pediatrician, the mother of another spirited kid, recommended this book when I asked her what was wrong with me as a mother. "Is it the Terrible Twos or just me?" I asked in anguish. My doctor and the author both assured me it was my wonderful, spirited daughter! I am so grateful to understand her better and to have so many effective tools to raise her lovingly, guiding her gently but consistently so she can find ways to understand, avoid and, if needed, temper her own strong reactions to the triggers that set her off. Most importantly, this book does a great job teaching you to see your child's traits as precious assets to be celebrated. Of course you want to feel that way about someone you love so much!
This book is slowly but surely making our family life more peaceful (and less loud!). Most of all, I have much more energy for raising her (evidently I will need it) and MUCH more patience now that I understand where she is coming from. Raising a spirited kid is tough work, the author assures us, and just reading that from someone who knows is comforting. That's the best part of the book for me: I no longer feel like a failure as a parent because she is MORE intense, sensitive, persistent, and perceptive. I'm also no longer bothered by other people who don't understand that what works for other kids won't work for my daughter. I now have the confidence to manage and help her the way she needs to be helped, and to teach her how to get her needs met once she's out there in the big wide world.
Lastly, let me mention that IF YOU HAVE A CHILD WITH SLEEPING PROBLEMS, READ THIS ONE FIRST! We have an entire shelf of books about how to get your toddler to sleep alone--NONE OF THAT STUFF WORKED AND MADE THE PROBLEM WORSE. I am slowly getting over the guilt of all those failed attempts to get her to bed that left her hysterical. Now I know why they didn't work and can do what works for her without having to justify it. Talk about relief!
I highly recommend this book for any loving parent who just isn't getting anywhere with the "conventional wisdom" approach to (and literature on) parenting. Maybe your kid isn't conventional. Read this book now and you won't waste precious time that could be spent enjoying and parenting your child with love!!!
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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An insightful & practical book - a view from a family doc & mother of a "spirited child", April 8, 2006
By 
Nancy Lindo-Drusch "nlindodr" (Appleton, WI United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Raising Your Spirited Child: A Guide for Parents Whose Child Is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, Energetic (Paperback)
As a family physician and mother of four back in the early 90's, I was overwhelmed with my third child. He was exceedingly bright, but his behavior made me feel I knew nothing about raising children. I didn't understand why he had to wear a particular type of sock with the seam on top of the toes and refused to wear the others. Why did he take everything apart? Disciplining was a nightmare as he could wail through a time-out longer than we could stand it! Later, when my fourth child began to speak, her first sentence was "Daniel did it!" and that was the absolute truth.

It took a recommendation from my wise mother to get this book and realize I had a "spirited" child. She had heard an interview with the author on the radio and knew immediately that the descriptions of "spirited" characteristics fit Daniel to a T. (I was informed that I had been one, too.) As I read the book I was amazed how much sense it made. The positive attitudes and techniques suggested helped us as parents assist my son become the wonderful young adult he is now.

Through the years I have recommended the original book and its revised edition hundreds of times to my patients who have "spirited" children. They are always surprised and grateful to find out they are not alone and that this book can offer concrete ways to make life better for their children and their families as a unit.

If you have a child who is "more" you need this book!
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