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Behavior of the Spirited Child


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The spirited child is MORE of everything.  These children are more persistent, intense, sensitive, energetic, perceptive, and serious than other children.  They are often uncomfortable with change and struggle with transitions.

These intense, spirited children can be difficult for a parent and teacher to tame without breaking their spirit.  It is helpful to understand that their behavior is a form of communication.  Negative behavior might mean they are overstimulated or don’t know how to communicate what is bothering them.  Traditional forms of discipline typically don’t work with spirited children.  The most effective way to parent or teach these children is to use positive reinforcement.  Look for ways to motivate them and encourage them, to build their self-confidence.  If they get overstimulated at transition time, offer a five-minute warning so they know what to expect, this will allow them to process change.  If they are having trouble concentrating in the classroom, look for sensory issues such as florescent lighting or noise in the room that might be causing them discomfort.  Provide the child with a quiet area in their bedroom or in the classroom, such as a carpet square with pillows, to give them sensory breaks to calm themselves.  This will also help to teach them self-regulation. 

The way you speak to the child is imperative.  Try to put a positive spin on things.  Rather than say, “Please clean up your mess.”  Rephrase it with, “Please put away your dishes in the sink.”  If the child is being bossy say, “I don’t like it when you talk to me that way. Despite your strong feelings, I expect you to ask politely.”  Be clear with your expectations.

If the child act outs and has a meltdown, it is best to stay calm and not overreact yourself.  Don’t make a bad situation worse.  Keep a calm voice and model the appropriate behavior you want the child to learn.  Practice or role playing is a good way to show the child a better way to respond to a situation. 

Spirited children are willful.  They will be persistent and push until they get what they want.  The child will be the most successful in the classroom if the teacher gets to know them and works with their temperament.  If the child gets the positive attention they crave, they will be less likely to react negatively.

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Autism vs. Awesome-ism©
By Dr. Melodee Loshbaugh, Co-founder & Executive Director of Brock’s Academy, Woodinville, WA

>What if we decided to just open our minds and see things from a wider, more diverse perspective?

>What if we didn't easily label and categorize people that we perceive to be different than us?

>What if we learned to think about people and differences as not right or wrong, but just different gifts?

>What if we fully believed and accepted that there is, and always has been, neurodiversity (i.e. cognitive differences) in the world?

>What if we accepted that neurodiversity is a brilliant achievement of Mother Nature?

>What if we entered each day believing each one of us is uniquely created and here to serve a higher purpose?

>What if we believed our job is to support one another in achieving that higher purpose?

>What if our differences are here to teach us appreciation, compassion, acceptance and to challenge us to stay open to all?

>What would that be like? # # #

Ryan, a 14-year old autistic student, writes:
>Meet me where I am.
>Stop trying to fix me. I don’t try to fix you.
>See my gifts, talents and strengths, not things you think I should have; see the “me” I was born with.
>Learn from me. Sit with me. Try to see the world from my perspective.
>Love me unconditionally and find ways to support me in what I came here to contribute to the world.
>Appreciate me.
>Just because I am experiencing the world in a different way than you are doesn’t mean it’s wrong, so stop judging me.
>I am me and I am beautiful.
>I am happy and I am whole. # # #

Copyright 2017—Dr. Melodee Loshbaugh
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