How To Survive Raising a Spirited Child


I was the perfect parent before I became a parent. My first born was relatively easy. She was a colicky baby and didn’t always nap, but she was super laid back otherwise. She was always a go with the flow kid. I was naïve and thought adding another kid would be a piece of cake, especially if they were anything like her.

Enter my second born, Jude.

My fiery redhead. I call him a firecracker. This little tornado came into the world and turned my life completely upside down. He tested me like no other. He did things I told myself I would never let my child do.

From the moment he became mobile around 7 months, he was the most determined boy I had ever met. If he wanted something, he would figure out a way. He got into everything. As he got older, the tantrums were constant and never ending. He didn’t listen to me at all. I felt like I was always yelling at him. Time out didn’t work. Taking things away didn’t work. I was worn down. I felt like I was failing as a mom. 

Then one day I heard the term spirited child.

“A child who is more intense, persistent, sensitive, and perceptive than the average child.”

I remember reading that and thinking the entire time how much this sounded just like Jude. And from that day on, I realized he needed me to parent differently. Don’t get me wrong, he still challenges me daily, but together, we have figured out some ways to make it a bit easier.

Pick your battles.

I quickly learned to pick my battles. If it’s not something that has to be done right in the moment, we pause and come back to it later. Many would say I let him “get his way” and that’s why he does it. In reality, making him do things he doesn’t want to only creates a battle between us. Not only that, but he also won’t do it correctly. Instead of making us both frustrated, I’ve found it easier to let it go and try again later.

Let them choose.

As I said before, forcing him to do something is the best way to start a fight or a meltdown. If it’s possible, letting him choose what he does is the best route to go for us. It makes him feel heard and gives him power over his decisions. When he chooses, he tends to do a better job because it was something he wanted, and not something he was told to do.

Reassure them.

He feels his feelings, hard. He is also emotional. I’ll admit I’m easily frustrated and tend to yell, especially with him. However, this makes everything worse. He completely shuts down when I yell. So instead, I reassure him that his feelings are valid. And then we work on a solution. When he’s scared, we talk through it. When he’s mad, we talk through it. We figure out how to fix those feelings, instead of punishing him for them.  

At the end of the day, parenting any child is hard. But a spirited child will give you a run for your money. They will wear you down. There is no quick fix, and nothing you do will change this personality trait. However, these small changes can help guide them into becoming the best version of themselves.

I truly believe spirited kids will grow up to be confident, determined adults who will change the world one day!

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Alyssa Johnson
Alyssa is a 30 year old stay at home mom and full time student who lives in Maumee, OH. She married her husband, Rob, in 2013 while living in Florida. After relocating and living in Minnesota for a year and a half, they moved and finally settled down in Northwest Ohio. She has four kids who keep her on her toes, Marley (8), Jude (6), Benny (4) and Cooper (2). They also have 2 cats and a wild goldendoodle. She loves taking naps, watching reality TV and working out (at home, in any free time she gets. Her hobbies include online shopping and scrolling Pinterest for new recipes that, at most, half of the kids will eat. She is a bit of a hot mess and her life is crazy, so follow along with the chaos on her instagram @alyjohnson1413


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