Monday, March 30, 2009

Spirited, passionate, fussy... Whatever you want to call it, this one's different.

J has always been a handful.

As a newborn, he was often crying, and needed to be held close CONSTANTLY. The baby Bjorn was a savior, we could hold J and get things done at the same time. He even napped in the thing! But night times were 100 times more difficult. We couldn't sleep while holding an infant and even co-sleeping wouldn't solve the screamfest since J quickly learned the difference between being HELD and being CLOSE. Being HELD was his very vocal preference. If being held and comforted at night was overlooked (we tried CIO a few times) J would scream until throwing up... EVERY TIME.

J's preferences didn't only revolve around sleep, he also held strong opinions on sound (loud rooms BAD - i/e pool parties and bowling alleys), light (bright rooms GOOD) and then later on food and company. Once he realized that all adults were different, he chose obvious favorites (mommy over daddy, grandpa over nana) and would get furiously upset if he was being held by the inferior preference. At 6 months, we found out that new foods were to be approached cautiously since, if J didn't like something, it would be rejected (gag, gag, gag, URP!!!).

J has also always been fascinated by everything around him, when he got older he would point to everything - wanting to know what things were called. Ceiling fans were godsends, he would watch them for long periods at a time, trying to figure out how they worked. Computers, televisions, and remotes were intensely scruntinzed, so many buttons do so many things!!!!

It was only when J started walking that we really, fully, understood what we were dealing with. All you had to do was blink and J had turned off the television, deleted half of your emails on your laptop, unplugged the lamp and climbed onto the TOP of the sofa where he would wait until you noticed to bounce with a HUGE grin on his face. It became obvious that we were dealing with a "spirited child".

Child proofing has become ESSENTIAL, for all of us. We've quickly created an environment where J can safely play and explore and we don't need to watch him 24/7. This has saved our sanity, and has made J much happier. We've also learned patience. It seems silly to say it, but it's so true. We've learned to accept the fact that J needs some comforting to get to sleep, needs to try new foods slowly, and needs to be redirected often from things he shouldn't be doing. Embracing J's temperment is so much easier than fighting it, and our increased patience is paying off. J is starting to understand why he shouldn't touch certain things, or why he needs to hold our hands in certain places, and it wasn't yelling "NO!" at him that taught him that. Slow, calm explanations (even if he can only understand parts of it) work so much better than barking orders, and even if the explanations need to be repeated 5 times, they eventually sink in.

Even while we're completely exhausted at the end of the day, we wouldn't trade in J's spirited personality for the world. J is passionate, he hugs and kisses his loved ones constantly, and is deeply empathetic (he'll get very upset if someone appears hurt or sad). He's also quite the entertainer - he loves to dance & sing, and actually tries to make people laugh by doing goofy things. And we just know that while his inquisitive personality may get him into trouble at times, he will grow up to be quite the problem solver, without a doubt!

If you're curious to read more about raising "spirited children", I've found the following links to be very helpful. It's always good to know that you're not alone (even at 3am while you're trying to get your little one to PLEASESLEEPFORTHELOVEOFALLTHATISHOLY! )


The Determined Baby
What is a Spirited Child?
12 Features of a High Need Baby
Raising your spirited child
The Demanding Toddler

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