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Raise Amazing Humans Episode 1: Katherine’s Story

Welcome to the first episode in a series of interviews I’m calling, “Raise Amazing Humans”.

One of the biggest questions parents of younger, spirited kids have is:

“When will my child become easier?”

We know from the research and from parents of older spirited kids that these children have incredible potential. All the traits that make them so challenging when they’re little can become their best traits as they get older – if we are able to nurture those traits and raise them with warmth and sensitivity.

The tricky part, of course, is figuring out how to get through those first months and years until they do become easier.

In this interview, I sat down with Katherine, whose daughter, Juliana, is now 6 years old.

I wanted to learn more about her experience of raising a spirited child – who has now come out the other side of spirited.

I asked her questions like:

When did you first notice there was something different about Juliana?

What traits did you see in her as an infant?

How did she sleep as a baby, and what ultimately led to better sleep for her?

What was she like as a toddler and preschooler?

When did you first notice she started to get easier?

What’s she like now?

I hope this interview has given you hope that things will get easier with your spirited child, and that your child already has the traits that will make him or her amazing!

If you would like to learn how to make life easier and more peaceful in the meantime, please reach out to me and let’s chat. If you’re struggling with not listening, meltdowns, setting limits effectively, or learning how feel more confident in how you parent, I can help!

Following are the links to resources mentioned in this interview:

Big Sky Lullaby

The Fussy Baby Network

The Fussy Baby Site

Our Goal: Help Them Become Themselves

When our kids are born – and perhaps even moreso, before they’re born – we have certain expectations of what they’ll be like.

We understand the whole nature versus nurture thing, but secretly have this idea that we can still mold them into the people we want them to be…at least a little.

Sometimes our expectations are based on what we’ve seen on TV or movies or in books, or on what we’ve seen of our friends’ kids.

And sometimes we just accumulate these unconscious expectations over the course of our lives.

Sometimes these expectations are related to our hypothetical child and his or her future behaviors: “When I have a kid, he/she will never do that”; and sometimes our expectations are related to the way we think we’ll parent: “When I’m a mom/dad, I’m going to just keep doing my thing, and they’ll learn to adapt to my/our lifestyle”.

And sometimes, I think we expect our kids to be strangely like us.

For instance, when I was born, I had loads of thick, curly black hair. As I got older, I was brunette and petite, and personality-wise, I was introverted, independent and rather anxious.

Somehow I expected that my children would inherit these traits. Although it has never bothered me one bit, both my kids are tall, blond, and much braver than I ever was as a child.

These are easy expectations for me to get past. In fact, I don’t need to “get past” them at all. My kids being blond, or brave, or tall really have no impact on our day-to-day lives.

But what about all those expectations we have about how our kids will behave, or what their personality will be like?

What if we expect our kids to be calm, or compliant, or easygoing?

What if we imagine our kids will frequently give us hugs, and tell us they love us?

Or what if we expect our kids to be happy most of the time…or at least not outright grumpy most of the time?

The truth is, these aren’t things we have any control over.

Kids are born with their own unique set of temperament traits; and while we have a tremendous responsibility and power to help them grow into who they are, we can’t change them.

And in fact, my mission is to help parents realize that we really, truly shouldn’t want to change them.

These kids are born with special gifts that make them tremendous human beings.

And while this can be hard to recognize during the challenging early years (when their personalities are still growing into their bodies), it’s so important for us to accept, understand and embrace our little people now…so they can accept, understand and embrace themselves, just as they are.

I’m going to end this post with an excerpt from a book that has had a profound impact on the way I view kids – especially spirited ones.

If we can help our kids become themselves – rather than who the world expects them to be – we’re giving them the greatest gift we could possibly give.

“If you doubt that we all arrive in this world with gifts and as a gift, pay attention to an infant or very young child. A few years ago, my daughter and her newborn baby came to live with me for a while. Watching my granddaughter from her earliest days on earth, I was able, in my early 50’s, to see something that had eluded me as a 20-something parent.

My granddaughter arrived in the world as this kind of person, rather than that, or that, or that. She did not show up as raw material to be shaped into whatever image the world might want her to take. She arrived with her own gifted form, with the shape of her own sacred soul….

In those early days of my granddaughter’s life, I began observing the inclinations and proclivities that were planted in her at birth. I noticed – and I still notice – what she likes and what she dislikes. What she is drawn towards and repulsed by. How she moves, what she does, what she says.

Remember who you were when you first arrived, and reclaim the gift of true self. We arrive in this world with birthright gifts. Then we spend the first half of our lives abandoning them, letting others disabuse us of them. As young people, we are surrounded by expectations that may have little to do with who we really are. Expectations by people who are not trying to discern our selfhood, but fit us into slots: in families, schools, workplaces, and religious communities, we are trained away from true self toward images of acceptability….we are disabused of original giftedness in the first half of our lives. Then, if we are awake…we spend the second half trying to recover and reclaim the gift we once possessed.”

– Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak.

I recognize you are likely in the stage of trying to cope with your child’s big emotions – and the ensuing defiance, power struggles and meltdowns. I would love to help you find practical, effective ways to deal with these behaviors, while honouring your child’s unique temperament. Contact me to let me know what you’re struggling with, and let’s chat about how I can help!

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