Characteristics of High-Needs and Spirited Children

Does your baby defy all parenting books and articles you have read? I know mine does! All my friends’ babies are textbook babies while mine is far from it! Now understand, I love my son more than anything and I wouldn’t want him to be any other way. He just takes a little more time and effort than a ‘normal’ textbook baby.

I was somewhat prepared to raise a ‘high-needs’ or ‘spirited’ baby (as Dr. Sears and Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, respectively classify them), but nothing can fully prepare you for the experience as it comes. I was only made aware of this type of child early on
because according to my mother, I was one. It makes me wonder about the genetic component to it…

I found that the characteristics of these children are divided very well in Mary Sheedy Kurcinka’s book, Raising a Spirited Child. According to Kurcinka, there are five main characteristics of spirited children and four bonus traits. Dr. Sears also discusses very similar traits in his books and articles, as well.

1. Intensity
2. Persistence
3. Sensitivity
4. Perceptiveness
5. Adaptability

Bonus Traits
6. Regularity
7. Energy
8. First Reaction
9. Mood

While my son is only 9.5 months old, I knew early on he was high-needs and spirited. He is a determined little dude, who loves having his needs met when he wants it. He is very intense both when he is happy and when he is sad. His laughs are so big and hearty, and his cries (while they aren’t often) are loud and intense. I love that he knows what he wants and he tries to tell me he does or doesn’t like something. It’s created a very special bond between us. I know that having these traits may make parenting difficult now (as sleep in always on mom), but it is so worth it for when he’s older. There is no doubt in my mind that he will be a high-achieving individual. He my little genius!

If you think you may have a high-needs child, I highly suggest reading books by Dr. William Sears and Mary Sheedy Kurcinka. While they may not help you raise you child, they will definitely help you feel better to know there are other moms out there in the same boat.

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