|Oliver; my spirited child|
Photo Credit: Ali Lauren Creative Services
The term 'spirited' hadn't really entered my life until very recently. Before I had the term I had words like 'willful', 'quirky', 'difficult', 'high energy', 'particular' and 'Pain-in-my-ass'… Not very 'motherly' that last one but for real; anyone who has or has met a spirited child knows that they push you and sometimes no amount of flowery language will do.
"The word that distinguishes spirited children from other children is more. They are normal children who are more intense, persistent, sensitive, perceptive, and uncomfortable with change than other children. All children possess these characteristics, but spirited kids possess them with a depth and range not available to other children. Spirited kids are the Super Ball in a room full of rubber balls. Other kids bounce three feet off the ground. Every bounce for a spirited child hits the ceiling." - Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, author of 'Raising Your Spirited Child'
"Motherhood is about raising and celebrating the child you have, not the child you thought you would have. It's about understanding that she is exactly the person she is supposed to be. And that, if you're lucky, she just might be the teacher who turns you into the person you are supposed to be." -Joan Ryan
Step stools everywhere, only safe items within sight/reach, clothes where they can reach them and pick them, water cups where they can easily fill them, snacks within reach, and brooms and rags where they can get to them (because god forbid you step in to mop up the entire jug of milk he just tried to pour himself, that would be insulting.)
By making a lot of room in your life for this independence to blossom you will avoid power struggles and give your spirited kid the confidence, control, and responsibility they need to flourish. The word 'uncooperative' used to enter my vocabulary a lot when it came to Oliver but since letting go and respecting his need to do things (all the things!) for himself I have come to realize that he's just eager and independent and there's nothing wrong with that.