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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 221 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 (221 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #31,382 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was a must read for me, the father of a 5-year-old spirited child. A therapist told me my daughter was "spirited" or "willful." And then she mentioned some books. Had she not told me my daughter was spirited, I would have never known to get this book. The biggest benefit is that the book made me less angry at my daughter who I learned is spirited from birth, genetics, hard-wiring, not an act of will. In fact, about 10 percent of children are spirited. Parents who go to group therapy in this book describe their constant exhaustion from raising a spirited child. One spirited child is like having 7 "normal" children apparently. It was therapeutic just to read this and not feel so alone and guilty for feeling like a failed parent.

The parents interviewed in Kurcinka's book corroborate all the characteristics my daughter has: bossy, picky, persistent, argumentative (never ending, sending you down a dead end of arguments), exasperating, needy, controlling, stubborn, never admitting wrongdoing . . . I could go on, but you get my point. Such children exhaust and frustrate their parents. Knowing this isn't an act of will gave me more patience and understanding. I also learned that because spirited children are so perceptive, it's important for the mother and father to have an attitude of getting along with one another. My wife and I benefited from this as well. Tension between us translates into our daughter's behavior worsening. We also learned not to label our daughter with all the above characteristics as that will actually make her traits worse. For every negative trait, there is a positive side to it. In fact, spirited children grow up to be intelligent high achievers.

Needless to say, being stern, strict, or angry doesn't motivate the child.You'll have to learn more patient strategies outlined in this book. A new edition comes out soon. I'm sure I'll get it.
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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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