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Loving Uniquely

We're gathering tips in how to love each of our children as individuals with unique character traits and temperament, and without labels.

Quiz: Is your child "spirited"?

Submitted by Rita Brhel on 10 February 2022

"Spiritedness" in children is a way of describing character traits that may challenge their parents and require that parents learn often out-of-the box ideas for guiding their children.

Parents: Don't be surprised if you recognize your own or your partner's spiritedness in your children! Those character traits are rooted in their inborn temperament, meaning that there's DNA involved. That said, environmental factors (including nurturing and parenting approach) influence how these spirited character traits are expressed through behavior.

Child temperament: How much does parenting really matter?

Submitted by Rita Brhel on 4 February 2022

The late Jerome Kagan, PhD, age 84 at the time of this interview in 2013, was one of the key pioneers in the field of developmental psychology. Much of what we know today about child temperament can be traced back to his work. Most of his career was spent at Harvard University (USA), where he studied the intersection of nature-nurture in child temperament. I was thrilled to get a moment with Jerome.

Q: What were the biggest discoveries in your research?

The Orchid Child

Submitted by Rita Brhel on 28 December 2021

As with many first-time parents, I have on more than one occasion wondered whether my toddler's intense reaction to something seemingly inconsequential boded poorly for his future happiness.

Would my beautiful and amazing boy (unable to focus on anything else until the bathroom door left slightly ajar was closed or the torn piece of paper on the floor discarded) ever be able to cope with the future setbacks, challenges, and out-of-place objects the universe would inevitably throw his way?

When is it more than "spiritedness"?

Submitted by Rita Brhel on 16 November 2021

What can we, as parents, do when we suspect that our child's behaviors go beyond mere spiritedness into a possible behavior disorder?

Q: Now for the question I often hear from parents related to temperament: Are childhood behavioral disorders, such as ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), the same as spiritedness?

DR. KURCINKA: This is why I wrote my book, Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles. Temperament is not the only fuel for behavioral issues.

Parents can be spirited, too!

Submitted by Rita Brhel on 16 November 2021

What makes a child's behaviors challenging? Discover how parents are part of the equation, and how changing our perception can go a long way in guiding our child.

Q: It's not only children who can be referred to as spirited?

DR. KURCINKA: Parents who read my book say that they learn as much about themselves and their spouses as their children. It applies to everyone. We all have a temperament. We all have an arousal system. We all have to learn how to calm ourselves.

We see spiritedness in babies, and we also see it in grandparents.

What is a "spirited" child?

Submitted by Rita Brhel on 16 November 2021

What defines a child as spirited, challenging, difficult, high-needs, high-maintenance, or any of the plethora of labels often perpetuated by a society that values conformity?

Virtually any child could be labeled as such, depending on the circumstances he found himself in or the clash of temperaments she has with the adults or other children in the room.