As a high school teacher I always loved the 'naughty' kids the most, the ones that were resistant to following the rules and questioned the boundaries. They were interesting, challenging and funny.
So, when I was pregnant with the Young Man I would always say 'I hope I have a cheeky child, one that speaks his mind and is rebellious in nature'. I recall saying this to my mum; she gave a wry smile and knowingly said 'I'm sure you will, darling'.
I suppose it's no great surprise that I did indeed have a boisterous child and it turns out that it's a lot more difficult than I had expected (duh). The Young Man is full on. Like really full on. He does not sit still, not even for a moment. He loses interest in activities quickly, is demanding, loud and can be rough. I'll be honest, I have spent quite a bit of time feeling embarrassed, even ashamed about his behaviour. Wondering what I have done to make him so crazy. I have heard him called 'angry and aggressive', I have been looked at like a failure by shop assistants and stared down by other mothers at play centers and parks. At times I have been filled with despair, overwhelmed at being responsible for this wild child, for his entire life. My internal monologue about my son became increasingly negative and dark.
Enter 'Raising Your Spirited Child', a book lent to be by my friend Fi. I'm 40 pages in and I have already both laughed and cried (gosh, so hallmark of me). It discusses the characteristics of a 'Spirited' child and, in the second chapter, explores the use of labels when addressing said child.
"Spirited kids seem to beg for labels- and not very positive ones. All kids get called a few names, but spirited kids manage to garner an overabundance of awful, miserable and poorly designed labels that seem to stick.
Most of us find ourselves facing an array of labels spoken and unspoken that affect how we think, feel and act toward our spirited children. If we are going to build a healthy relationship with them, we must lay the labels out on the table, dissect them, and redesign those that make us and our kids feel lousy- the ones that cloud our vision and hide the potential within.
Focusing on the positive labels may even allow you to recognise that your child really is the one you dreamed of having."
So- to the bin with descriptions such as aggressive, stubborn, demanding, wild and impatient. Lets raise our enlightened glasses to assertive, goal oriented, high standard holding, energetic and compelling children.
I look forward to discovering new things about how to raise The Young Man well, about meeting him where he is at, rather than where 'all the other kids' are at. I'm excited about adjusting my expectations and enjoying him more. Because lets be honest, that kid is excellent... most of the time.
Tell me, do you have a Spirited Child?