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Monday, January 21, 2013

book - Taming the Spirited Child

Taming the Spirited Child - Strategies for parenting challenging children without breaking their spirits
by Michael Popkin, Ph. D. 

-'Taming' a spirited child means to form a strong relationship.

-Spirited children are sometimes impulsive, hyperactive, aggressive, noncompliant, difficult to manage, ornery, tempermental, oppositional, or just "all boy," the author wrote on page 4.

-Popkin wrote a lot about how these spirited children have many gifts, positive traits about them that will aid them in successful futures if harnessed the right way. "While their particular ways of expressing this energy is often out of sync with the times in which they live, the power within them should be a source of inspiration for the rest of us" (page 5).

-Spirited children tend to be CAPPS - curious, adventurous, powerful, persistent, and sensitive, (page 10). Chapter one describes each of these characteristics, explains why they happen and signs of them in children. Popkin wrote that all of these things are really positive and yet can be viewed negative by community members, schools, etc. at times.

-One of the best things parents can do for spirited children is to learn what the triggers are for CAPPS and how to "defuse them beforehand," the author wrote on page 35. Redirecting the child, understanding and teaching kids their own emotions, and capitalizing on their positive traits are all helpful tips as well.

-The author provided a great chapter on 10 Tactics for Avoiding (or Defusing) Power Struggles, including tips like don't fight and don't give in, and give choices not orders. (page 72). Instead of saying, "Do your homework right this instant. Do it!" you say "Do you want to do homework right now, or need 5 more minutes to finish that game before you start homework?" The author wrote that the result of this change is "a mood shift that changes the dynamics from a power struggle to a creative collaboration." (page 85)

-Popkin wrote a lot about effective discipline for spirited children. "Disciplining a spirited child is as much about disciplining yourself as it is about disciplining the child," (page 88). Punishment is not what works with these kids for the most part, in fact in most cases it goes the opposite way. Most spirited children are not trying to make you angry, defy the rules, or go against what you say. They are curious, busy, energetic, etc. and aiming for adventure. They are in their own worlds at times. To discipline this is difficult because the child does not understand what he did was wrong in some cases. 

-Structure, routine bed and eating schedules, using a timer, etc. are all good ideas Popkin wrote about in chapter 6. 

-When disciplining it's important to "focus on the rule, not the child." Instead of saying "You have to go to bed at 8 p.m." you say "Bedtime is at 8 p.m." Instead of "Don't you hit me!" you say "We don't hit in our family." (page 112)

-He encourages kids at age 7 and older receive an allowance, but only for doing extra chores like washing the car, etc. not for doing household family chores that everyone helps out with. (page 117)

-He encourages playing with your kids every single day at least 10 minutes, showing them the respect you hope they give to you, "stay firm and friendly," put yourself in your child's shoes, etc. "Learn to listen to what your child is feeling behind his words and actions," he wrote on page 248. 

Overall, a slightly confusing book with references to historical figures and essays, but well-written and helpful information. There is a lot of info in this book though with many abbreviations for tips. The tips themselves appear to be sound advice. Popkin did a good job explaining what spirited children are like and what they need, as well as helping parents realize these are GOOD kids, they just have challenges that they need their parents' patience and support in dealing with in order to be successful. 

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