I was recently talking to my son and discussing what a spirited and, shall we say, “active” child he was when he was younger. He’s now well into his twenties and has been reflecting on life. He actually apologized for being such a handful for me. I assured him that was absolutely not necessary, and that I never viewed his spirited nature as a burden or complication while he was growing up.
I explained to him that my philosophy with child rearing and parenting in general is to always follow the child when you can. If a child seems more spirited or active, or quiet, or passive, I believe that following that individual child is what is important, and not trying to fit him or her into a specific mold that has been set out before us on how to raise our children. In addition, we do not “shame raise” our kids. We don’t tell them that they will disappoint us if they make a mistake or bring home a bad grade from school. To attempt to dent the psyche or the actual soul of a child in that manner is just cruel.
Unfortunately, I have seen parents that rear their children that way. Those children may grow up and appear to be functioning adults, but are they confident? Do they continually seek and need approval from others in their relationships? Are they actually happy with themselves, or do they continue to feel that they may just not be good enough?
I am in no way a perfect parent, but am proud that all my children are strong, ethical, and kind human beings. And yes, some were more spirited than others. Discovering what they need to actually channel that sprit is the adventure. Is it in creativity? It may be in dance, art, theater, or writing. Is the need to find the gateway for success in something like soccer, track, or computer design? They are all individuals and it is up to us, their parents, to unearth their talents or interests through support and following their lead. Not suppressing them with unnecessary shame or teaching them that holding grudges and negativity is healthy.
Sure, my children made mistakes and had consequences to unwise decisions that they may have made. Those consequences were swift, and may not have been fun, but were never in place to make them feel less of themselves. Quite the opposite. They learned cause and effect, right from wrong, and how to not repeat the mistake. They learned. They built from that foundation.
We are all doing the best we can with our children. They don’t come with an instruction booklet. Do we make mistakes with them? Sure. Do we attempt to learn from those mistakes for the future or even with the next kid? Hopefully. And hopefully we don’t totally mess them up along the way. But guiding those with that extra little twinkle in their eyes, aka high spirit, is a gift that can only make you stronger. Or totally deflate you some days. 😊
Are you the parent of a spirited child?