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Raising Your Spirited Child: A Guide for Parents Whose Child Is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, and Energetic
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Raising Your Spirited Child: A Guide for Parents Whose Child Is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, and Energetic

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  5,916 ratings  ·  671 reviews

Newly revised, featuring the most up-to-date research, effective strategies, and real-life stories

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 withstories


Kindle Edition, Revised, 498 pages
Published (first published August 1st 1991)
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Average rating 4.17  · 
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 ·  5,916 ratings  ·  671 reviews

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Apr 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Is is too much of an exaggeration to say this book saved my life? Well, perhaps it is, but in all honesty, this book improved my quality of life and helped me understand my 3 year old's personality. My child is definitely more intense and sensitive than many other children--but now I've learned to value and appreciate her in a new way. I also know how to be an advocate for her in preschool and future school settings. Seriously, I am a better mommy due to the facts and advice found in this book.
Jan 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
warning: this review is kind of long because I want to remember certain things before I return this to the library.

I have had this book recommended to me by several people but had never read it because I didn't think my kids were "spirited". They aren't hyper, but I was totally misunderstanding the use of the word. The opening page of this books says "I ... secretly needed to talk with other parents who understood what is was like to live with a child who could scream for 45 minutes
Skylar Burris
This verbose tome often seemed to take awhile to get to the point, but I preferred it to Taming Your Spirited Child; it was a little less "you're child is never wrong" in its approach. The self-scoring section was helpful in giving me a general idea of where my kid fell on the scale and making me realize that she is perhaps more spunky than spirited and that normal discipline methods probably still apply. I did glean one or two helpful things from the book, the most useful of which has been her ...more
Sarah Whitney

This is called the Pygmalion Effect and has been well documented by researchers. The reality is that children learn what hey are from others in their lives. Think about ht e spirited children you know. What words do you use to describe them? Do they sound like the million-dollar words created by advertising companies, words that can make you wish you could have even more children who are spirited? Are they the kind of descriptors that would make other
Jan 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read this book and I swear its written about my oldest son! Really helped me understand him and better deal with some of the issues we were having. I completely changed my way of discipline and also changed some of the situations where I realised he would become over stimulated and therefore this would cause problems. Having read this book after a few months of me changing my patterns and the things we did he became a different child. I recommend this to any parent that has a spirited child, it ...more
Jun 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I cried when I started this book. It was such a relief to know that there were other parents out there like me, with kids like mine! It was validating to know that some children DO require more input than others: I felt like my hard work was finally recognized.

As I continued, what stood out, even beyond the helpful advice and tips for handling the intense traits of a spirited child, was her positive perspective. I was able to shed the burden I was feeling about having a "spirited" child and loo
Jan 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Cat by: Barbara
I found this book stunningly useful and reassuring. Kurcinka emphasizes that those larger-than-life size reactions your preschooler are having come from her real reactions to things and that understanding the temperamental sources of some of those reactions (like being slow to adapt to a new situation or being high energy and needing to move) can allow you to handle them better and to facilitate them where you can and redirect them where you can't. While reading Kurcinka's book, I found myself b ...more
Nov 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My sister Amy recommended this book when Ellie was a toddler, she'd had a friend who'd used it with her son and loved it. It was very interesting, and gave me a lot of insight into not only my kids, but Jerem! I loved how the author puts all of the characteristics we usually try to squash out of children into a positive light. It also tells you how to deal with the daily trials of having a spirited child--how to avoid the battles. I'm a "mellow" person, and so was Hannah, so when "spunky" Megan ...more
Mar 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found a LOT to really like about this book. There were moments when it actually brought me to tears, because what I was reading was, for once, EXACTLY like reading about my kid...and my reactions. In fact, I'm going to make my husband read this because I think there are some really important observations we can use to be better parents for our spunky/spirited child.

There are parts of the book that don't apply to us, which I think would be the case for many parents. But what parenting book is
Kris Irvin
Jun 14, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is fantastic. If you think you have a kid who is More, I can't recommend this one highly enough.

Toby has always been an intense child - even in the womb he was a nutball. I was at the end of my rope a few weeks ago and truly did not know what to do with this kid - nothing ever works. No really, nothing I have ever tried discipline wise has ever helped. Except for screaming - we told him if he screamed a bear would eat him. This cut down on 90% of the screaming, but I'm not really want
Sep 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I began this with a lot of cynicism, since every other parenting book I'd ever read seemed to be talking about a child quite different than mine. Fortunately, this book made a huge impact on me, my husband, and the way we understand and appreciate our daughter. I only wish I would have read it earlier - it would have prevented a lot of frustration and hurt feelings.

I love that the book's premise isn't to "fix" your child - it unapologetically says, "this is who your kid is, you can't change 'em
Apr 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I got my answer in the first chapter of this book when I took a quiz that surprised me. After the quiz to identify whether or not my child was spirited, I was surprised to find a quiz to discover if I was spirited. When I discovered that I am a spirited parent, that was all I needed to know. My child didn't need to change, I needed to to change. Life was completely different after that.
Today, my spirited child is a 20 year old American Soldier and a missionary who is the light and joy of m
Liesl Shurtliff
My youngest is basically five children in one. So much energy. So intense. So strong-willed. Takes flipping forever to do EVERYTHING. This book is helping me understand his temperament and know how to work with him. I'm learning to look at all his traits in a positive light and finding new ways to communicate and negotiate. It doesn't fix everything overnight, and some of the ideas/suggestions in the book seem a bit like throwing spaghetti at a wall, see what sticks, but it's giving me some hope ...more
Aug 20, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A very verbose tome when I, with my savage (excuse me, energetic) 3 year old, am at the end of my rope trying to understand him, live with him, not sell him on ebay.

I wanted the facts laid out for me like boom, boom, boom. I wanted someone to hold my hand and say, "when he does x, you do y."

I don't know that there is a book in existence that can do that. However, I'll keep chugging along, reading parenting book after parenting book hoping that someday I am so filled with
Aug 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good strategies for all parents.
Aug 14, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up after a few friends suggested it. At times we struggle with focusing our son's energy in positive directions and I thought this might be helpful. While I don't think my son falls into the truly "spirited" category, many of the attributes outlined in the book did apply to him and it was good to read a bit more about facets of his personality and temperament.

Quite honestly, I didn't learn a whole heck of a lot of new techniques. If anything, the author reassured me that I am alre
Andrea Thorpe
Dec 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was the most helpful of all behavioral books I've read about my oldest child. I came away with tools, hope and above all a feeling that I can raise a very intense, sensitive, perceptive, persistent & energetic boy...Mark is all these things at one time or another and at times I was at a loss of how to work with it.

The way Kurcinka writes was very helpful in breaking down each special trait and I enjoyed the examples tremendously in driving home her points.

Oct 15, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I found the first part of this book, which consists of detailed descriptions of the temperamental traits of spirited children, very interesting, and definitely worth reading. It gave me a great deal of insight into my daughter, myself, and the dynamics within our family. The second part of the book, which attempts to teach the parent how to live with the spirited child, however, was a huge disappointment to me. I simply do not agree with the author's philosophy or methods, and thus there was rea ...more
Adrian Alvarez
Jul 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Often reading through parenting books is like shopping for a used car. There are a lot of books with scant ideas pretending they're worth the 300 pages they're printed on, like slimy salesmen trying to pawn off piles of junk at full price. The ratio of help to filler can be aggravating. So imagine my surprise when I found this parenting book: one that not only earned its pages in good ideas but exceeded my expectations. If you have a spirited child this is *the* book to read.

My wife
Apr 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of best books on children I’ve read. Not just looks at kids as spirited but also parental demeanors and how they flow together. Mary also very good about this not be the must do thing but suggestions that will work for your family and what’s worked for others. I learned I’m a spirited adult which makes parenting a bit more difficult. Can not recommend enough. Also those tough moments (kid hard to fall asleep, needing a time in more than time outs) she speaks of with support and to know count ...more
Mar 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book really helps me see my kids differently and through a less harsh lens. It gives me more empathy for other parents too, kids aren’t textbook and there is no perfect guide, we’re all going to parent our kids the best we can for everyone’s temperament. In this book I found a book that explains my kids to me and I am really encouraged by it. It has sparked good conversations with me and my husband and our family, it’s helping me speak more positively to and about my children.
Jan 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Here's my review from Amazon on this book.

This book has been SO WONDERFUL!!!!!!! If your child is spirited, READ IT!!!

I'm so grateful for the tools and mindset that this book gave me. I felt punished every day for over a year. "Why did I have to get this child? I don't want this one. Take him back, please!" I also had terrible postpartum depression at the time, which made everything worse than it already was, plus my son had one of the five worst cases of colic I've ever
Whitnee Elaine
Overall pretty good, fairly helpful. Loved the part where it talks about how those traits that make your child a little difficult at times are going to make them be very successful adults one day. It was a great reminder to carry on in patience and help them turn their weaknesses into strengths.
Sep 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not alone! There are other sensitive children out there with parents who are struggling like I am. This book gave me some good ideas about how to approach situations with my son.
Dec 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: self-help
Great advice

I will be referring back to this one a lot. Lots of really useful examples, that can applied in every day life.
May 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Parents
This was SO insightful in helping me understand my spirited daughter. But this is not just good for spirited kids, I think it's great in understanding ANY kid, because one or more of the temperaments described here can apply to other children, who may not necessarily be "spirited". I wish I had read this when my kids were younger, and I probably could've saved myself from alot of tantrums (theirs AND mine!). They're now both elementary-aged, but this would've been SO helpful at the toddler/presc ...more
Feb 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I started this book, all I could think was - they have my kid pegged! It's kind of nice to know that I'm not the only one dealing with this kind of intensity and spirit in my child. I read the updated ed. (2015 I believe). I learned a lot of good techniques, although they're not all working... it is a constant battle.
Apr 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: babies, 2017, 2018
Forgot to mark this one "read" after my kindle loan ran out and I bought a hard copy to finish it. Gosh I should have read this book years ago. What wonderful insight into how your "spirited" child's brain works and what tools and techniques work in different situations. Wonderful book. I think it would incredibly helpful even if your child is not "spirited".
Dec 22, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I have at least 2 highly spirited children (the jury's still out on the baby), and a friend recommended this book to me. It's saved her life and her marriage, apparently, and I can see why. "Highly spirited" is actually a thing which is frequently diagnosed as being ADHD or even mild autism. It's characterized by sleep issues, dramatic emotional highs and lows, and boundless energy. When my oldest, now 8, was a baby and toddler, I thought I was going to go insane dealing with him because of thes ...more
Feb 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"The word that distinguishes spirited children from other children is MORE."
I came to this book at a low moment in my parenting journey. I was on the MRT when I read the full description of the spirited child and I burst into tears. I thought, "thank god I'm not the only one" and "it's not just me sucking as a parent". Being a parent is an incredibly hard role for which you get no training in advance and a multitude of advice which may or may not have any bearing on your own reality. Raisi
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Mary Sheedy Kurcinka is a best-selling author and internationally recognized lecturer and parent educator. Her books Raising Your Spirited Child, Raising Your Spirited Child Workbook; Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles; and Sleepless in America: Is Your Child Misbehaving or Missing Sleep have been translated into ten languages.

As director of, Mary provides training nationally
“Love your spirited child for who she is. Because she is more, she will make you more.” 6 likes
“It almost seems un-American, at times, to have kids who are slow to warm up. Other people tell us to push them—to force them to jump in—and they reprimand us for babying them. When your child adapts slowly, remind yourself that you will appreciate it when he is an adolescent. While all the other kids are running off on some ridiculous impulsive venture, yours will be thinking, moving slowly and cautiously. There are strengths to every temperamental characteristic.” 2 likes
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