About 10 percent of children are born with difficult temperaments. Each difficult child is unique, but difficult children, by definition, are strong-willed, intense, irritable, negative, demanding, and fussy. The innate factors that lead to that behavior don’t change with time but there are ways to make life easy than burdensome.
1. Work with your child’s temperament. Don’t try to change it. Do your best to keep your emphasis on the positive attributes of your child’s approach to the world.
2. Give them what they need. Spirited children need extra help learning to soothe and calm themselves. Make sure your child has a healthy balance, including good nutrition, enough downtime, lots of outdoor time (especially in natural settings), enough sleep, and plenty of exercise.
3. Model the behavior you want to see. If you want your spirited child to be calm, cooperative, and reasonable, make sure that’s how you behave, in spite of all their provocation. Find the balance in your own life that you need in order to be kind, loving, and patient with your spirited child.
4. Be patient. Remember that everything develops. With time, love, understanding, and patience, even the most spirited child can learn to be kind, cooperative, and dependable. And be patient with yourself, too. It is not easy to raise a spirited child.
The next time you or someone else remarks on how difficult your child is, try saying to yourself and anyone else who is listening, “I prefer to think of them as unique.” You might also remind yourself that it is the unique child who,with the right kind of early support, love, and patient guidance, grows into the most interesting, creative, and successful adult.
God bless you.