9.06.2007

spirited child

{if looks could kill...}

Do you have one? A spirited child, I mean. I do - almost nothing about Malayna is easy. You might have one and not even know it! The back of the book I'm currently reading says this about spirited children:

"The spirited child - often called "difficult" or "strong willed" - possesses traits we value in adults yet find challenging in children. Research shows that spirited kids are wired to be "more" - by temperament, they are more intense, sensitive, perceptive, persistent, and uncomfortable with change than the average child."

See that last line? Malayna. Don't get me wrong - she can be sweet, engaging and outgoing at times. But that happens mostly with the people she's most familiar with, like me, Jimmy, mom-mom and Uncle David. I can usually tell why she doesn't seem to like someone - loud, boisterous people turn her off {unless it's her daddy}. And if you seem very interested in her - forget it. She probably won't like you.

While we were at the park yesterday, Malayna sat down to have a snack. There were two moms standing nearby, and I knew one was going to be a problem. I walked away for a minute to get her drink and the loud mom said hello to her. Malayna gave her a nasty look and covered her face. The woman said "Oh, no. Did you swallow something you didn't like? Did you hurt yourself?" Of course Malayna wouldn't answer her - she just kept looking at her like she was from another planet. Did she never see a child act like that before? Was she serious? Or was she being sarcastic? I couldn't tell. She kept trying to talk to Malayna {why would you keep talking to someone who was giving you nasty looks and not answering you?}, so I finally said "she doesn't usually like to talk to people she doesn't know. It takes her a little time while to warm up." The other woman said "oh! I have one of those, too. I understand." I'm glad someone does!

It used to be worse. When a stranger {or even someone she knew that she didn't like} would say hello to her, she would yell. Yikes! She was really loud, too. I didn't know what to do about it and tried just about everything. I would warn her ahead of time that people were going to talk to her, and tell her that she could not yell. I would ignore her. Eventually I found something that worked for a while - I told her that if she felt uncomfortable she could say "I need my space." It worked like magic. I think it worked because people were surprised to hear such a little person say something like that. They would look amused and walk away.

The older she gets, the harder it is to explain. And I'm not sure I even need to. But I guess I'm worried that she'll be perceived as a brat - and then that's a reflection on me. Should I worry about what other people think? Of course not. But I do.

Do you have a spirited child? Any advice?

*photo by Kristen Kalp

3 comments:

Bea Kelley said...

That's my perfect little girl!
I wouldn't have her any other way!!!!!!!
Love you sweetie pie.........
Mom-Mom

KB said...

I just have to say Wow! That is one cool photo.

textile_fetish said...

You know what? I ditched the categorizations a long time ago. You could call my Chloe "sprited," but that's really just a polite word, isn't it? She a toughie! So we've taken some of her issues and focused on making them not so problematic. I've had talks with each one of her teachers so they know what to expect up front, ever-since preschool. By now I have to let her learn on her own that certain behaviors simply won't work in her favor. And you have to let go of the concern that others will judge you as a bad parent or you kiddo as bratty. Your daughter *is* her own person. People who see her often will see all sides and appreciate her sweetness. People who see her almost-never don't matter. In the near future (I promise) she'll have to be personally accountable for the reprocussions of her own behavior. But do continue to talk to her about it. She'll hear you whether she acts differently right away or not. I think you've done your job well, already, so just keep up the good work :)