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Raising Your Spirited Child: A Guide for Parents Whose Child Is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, Energetic Paperback – April 1, 1998

4.6 out of 5 stars 217 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Recently, temperament traits have come to the forefront of child development theory. In Raising Your Spirited Child, Mary Sheedy Kurcinka's first contribution is to redefine the "difficult child" as the "spirited" child, a child that is, as she says, MORE. Many people are leery about books that are too quick to "type" kids, but Kurcinka, a parent of a spirited child herself and a parent educator for 20 years, doesn't fall into that trap. Instead, she provides tools to understanding your own temperament as well as your child's. When you understand your temperamental matches--and your mismatches--you can better understand, work, live, socialize, and enjoy spirit in your child. By reframing challenging temperamental qualities in a positive way, and by giving readers specific tools to work with these qualities, Kurcinka has provided a book that will help all parents, especially the parents of spirited children, understand and better parent their children.

From Publishers Weekly

Kurcinka's now-classic guide to raising children who are "more"—more intense, more sensitive, more persistent, etc.—gets a greatest-hits treatment in this brief audio version read by the author, a teacher and parent educator. The abridgement can be abrupt at times; in the effort to condense a 300-page book to a three hours, many memorable and useful examples, illustrations and anecdotes have been excised in favor of general principles and descriptions of the basic traits common to spirited children. Helpfully, though, each CD is imprinted with track titles and time signatures, a great boon to parents who want to retrieve specific information quickly. Kurcinka's voice can sometimes be a problem; it tends to trail off to such a low end-of-sentence volume that listeners may have to strain to catch what she is saying. Kurcinka never really achieves a deep or comfortable vocal resonance even at the best of times, though she does exhibit a quiet dramatic intensity despite the brittle, high tones. In all, it's difficult to justify the additional $10 this audio costs over the far meatier trade paperback version, which offers considerably more bang for the buck. HarperCollins paperback. (Dec.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Paperbacks; Reprint edition (April 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060923288
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060923280
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (217 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #49,581 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on February 1, 2001
Format: 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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Format: 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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Format: 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.
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