Marie Forleo introduction


I'm Avital.

You want a present, peaceful and playful family life? I'm here to help you make that a reality.

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How to Gently Parent the Highly Spirited Child

I was thankful to collaborate recently with Rose from the Wholesome Feed channel.

You’ll definitely want to check out her videos that inspire women in their breastfeeding and motherhood journeys as well as help fathers learn about breastfeeding support. She and I discussed the challenges of raising a spirited child, which is what we’re addressing here.

You want to establish independence, peace, and presence in your home. When you have a child who is extra emotional, active, or sensitive it is often frustrating and draining figuring out how to be peaceful and gentle in your parenting style.

Here you’ll find five strong strategies to parent a spirited child in a way that supports both parent and child.

Find more resources, tools, and a supportive community of parents who are sharing your experience by joining the Present Play membership which you can learn about here.

Free Printable | 20 Ways to Stay Patient With Your Spirited Child

Parenting a child who is more active, sensitive, talkative, or emotional can be a joyful experience rather than a frustrating one. The strategies here are critical for transforming your interactions and time spent with your child. I encourage you to make a conscious effort to include them in your lifestyle.

5 Tips for Peaceful Parenting Your Spirited Child

  1. Take a break
    We don’t do anything as intensely as we parent. We need valves to release that stress and energy. We need distance from our children to see them more objectively. If you’re looking for permission, here it is. You have permission to take a break. Don’t go it alone. Get support. Consider that your time spent with your children should be more about the quality than the quantity.
  2. Self-care
    Whatever self-care looks like for you, remember that when your own cup runneth over with joy, abundance, and compassion it will spill over to your preschooler.via @ParentingJunkieTweet This
    If you are not radically prioritizing your self-care it will be nearly impossible for you to peacefully parent your child. If you don’t have unconditional love for yourself how are you going to extend that to your child who is particularly needy? Self-care can be bubble baths and good sleep. It could also be practicing meditation, developing a project, taking care of your physical health, or setting limits on how you spend your time and energy.
  3. Get tools
    I don’t think conscious parenting comes naturally. Most of us didn’t see peaceful parenting demonstrated around us.  You’re not going to know how to put gentle strategies in motion in a way that supports you and your child best if you don’t continually educate yourself. Filling your toolbox is especially critical when raising a highly spirited child. I highly recommend reading 
    Raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka and Listen by Patty Wipfer. These books are incredible resources for understanding your own temperament as well as the unique characteristics of the highly spirited child.

    “Love your spirited child for who she is. Because she is more, she will make you more.” ― Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, Raising Your Spirited Child

  4. Re-frame everything
    We are all different. Some of us are highly sensitive, persistent, and high needs. It’s normal diversity of human cognition. The key is to look at your child’s behaviors neutrally, if not positively. Highly spirited children are those with creative minds and big ideas. If we focus on those aspects it will make parenting them more peaceful and benefit their self-concept. Look at them as unique perfect beings with strengths, characteristics, beliefs, and preferences that will serve them throughout life.
  5. Patience
    Tell me if this sounds familiar. “I set the limit and did it gently, telling him not to hit his brother, and he did it again. It’s not working.”   Child development takes years. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.  Parenting takes bucket loads of patience and it will take months, if not years, to see the results of our efforts. 

FREE DOWNLOAD | 20 Ways to Stay Patient With Your Spirited Child

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Give me an “Amen” in the comments below if you’ve experienced the challenges of raising a spirited child. What tips and tricks do you use to help you practice the strategies mentioned here? 

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9 Replies to “How to Gently Parent the Highly Spirited Child”

  1. Amen! I think spirited children have a high capacity for empathy. They have big hearts. It may appear self-centered at first, but with patience… can grow into something beautiful. Taking breaks and getting sleep are crucial in this house to staying patient!

  2. As a highly spirited person myself who often felt misunderstood and “labeled,” I’m really trying to embrace the re-frame. My son is extremely active and verbally gifted. He’s a natural performer so I try to find ways to channel his energy and give him chances to be “in charge.”

  3. Love this post. I definitely have one of these. My son is so wonderful but I find him very draining sometimes. I sometimes wonder if he has a love cup with a hole in the bottom! I’d love any extra advice on dealing with spirited children after school. This is an area of the day that is very hard work for everyone in our house. I’ve read that kids need to decompress but would like some tips on how to deal with this and maybe even thrive at this time of day! That would be nice ??

  4. Something that comes through in this video and many of your other videos is the need to reframe our own thinking about how we perceive our child and her behavior. I’m wondering how this ties into meditation. I know you have a meditation album and I’ve listened to one of your free ones but I’m not sure how meditation can practically help me. I would love a video clarifying the benefits of a meditation practice as well as your own personal journey with meditation. Thank you for all you do Avital. It is sincerely appreciated!

  5. I am curious about social skills and if I should encourage the spirited child to be “not so intense” ? How do I teach to give more space, let others play alone when they want to, and how to deal with the very intense emotions when feeling rejected by other kids.

  6. My 5yr old I think falls to this category. She’s smart and a bit advanced vs. her peers intellectually, but she lacks the maturity emotionally. She’s hot-tempered, sometimes stubborn. When she was younger, she listened to evry word I say. But now, she’s defiant and always reasons out. Most of the time I am handling her as a peaceful parent wanna-be, but sometimes I get triggered..esp. when she yells or hurts me or my younger son. She knows that hitting and yelling is not allowed. Now I’m confused if I’m doing the right thing. Hope we can see some parents who raised children the peaceful parenting way and has become good adults. Some kind of testimonial from parents who had been there and succeeded. Thank you Avital.

  7. Hi! Is being aggressive (who hits, yells, and reasons out a lot) also considered a spirited child? Just tonight, we had a drama because she did not want to stop playing with my cellphone. We used it only when I brush my younger son’s teeth. He did not like brushing a lot that’s why we use screen to distract him. My daughter who’s five was also watching. And then after we finished brushing, I calmly asked for my phone and my 5 year-old did not like that. She grab the phone her brother’s hand and told us she still wants to watch. It’s bedtime and almost 9PM. So I got the phone from her hand and she started screaming and yelling. And she also hit me twice. This usually happens when she doesn’t like what we ask her to do. In the end she apologizes. She always says sorry after realizing that it wrong to hurt people. But she keeps on hitting, biting, kicking someone when she’s mad. I’m trying to figure out what is wrong. Please help. Thanks

  8. I would love to read more about The Golden Child Exercise, but I can’t seem to find it. Could you please share a link?

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