Spirited children, by temperament, are ‘more’… More energetic, more sensitive, more intense, more perceptive and more persistent.  This can literally leave a parent exhausted as it continues all day, every day.  And temperament doesn’t go away – so listen up to learn about your child and how you can help make it easier for you them and you!

It appears that many parents are interested to find out ‘more’ about this topic and so taking the information from the book Raising Your Spirited Child (a book worth gold for parents of spirited kids) by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, this post will summarise the different temperament traits of a spirited child.  Mary states that to be ‘spirited’, you would have all of the five first traits and possibly some of the ‘bonus’ traits.  Whilst being ‘spirited’ is not an actual diagnosis, you will certainly know if you have a spirited child!  And it can be so relieving to read that other people experience exactly the same issues, just as parents of a child with say autism, would get together for support.  At the same time, I hope this post can help parents with children who might just be very persistent, or have trouble with change.  Coming posts will aim to give strategies to deal with these traits.

Worth every cent...

Worth every cent…


  • Goes from 0 to 100 as far as crying – straight to wailing or exploding..LOUDLY.  Certainly no squeaking!
  • Hard to keep up with as far as their emotions – they’re really happy, then really sad.  You know about it!
  • They have powerful reactions to situations.  Nothing mild about it!
  • They won’t just smile when they’re happy, they’ll use their whole body to show you!
  • Can get easily frustrated.


  • ‘Locks in’ and is hard to move on from an idea or an activity they are into.  Bring on the tantrums!
  • The crying can go on for hours…  They really need help to control their emotions.
  • Frustratingly, does not take no for an answer.
  • This can really be present from birth.


  • Needs total silence to get to sleep.  Bring on the sleeping issues 🙁
  • Clothes can really affect them – certain fabrics, seams in socks.
  • Sensitive to noises, lights, smells which can be more so when out and about.  Stress and reactions..
  • Sensory issues may affect their eating, making them a ‘selective’ eater.  Spirited children can literally be sensitive to foods and many experience allergies.
  • An emotional sponge – they pick up on all your emotions and become that way too.
  • May show peculiar behaviours to how things feel – pleasant and unpleasant.


  • Notices details that others would never take notice of, but can lose focus on a task.  The wanderer/daydreamer!
  • Can spend a long time looking at these details but hence have a vivid imagination.
  • Will be sure to forget directions you’ve given them, again getting caught up with distractions.


  • Transitions from one activity to another are very hard.  More tantrums!
  • Changes in routine are very stressful.  They need plenty of warning and preparation.
  • Surprises also don’t go down well.  More stress!


  • They don’t need sleep at the same time each day.
  • Hunger strikes at different times in the day.. or they forget to eat.  You generally won’t find a chubby spirited child!
  • Getting them into a routine can be quite difficult.  They even go to the toilet at irregular times.


  • It’s pretty much physically impossible to sit still for an average amount of time.  Or it’s fidgeting.
  • They are constantly on the move, from sun up to sun down.

First reaction

  • Stands back to observe before joining in.
  • A watcher, not a do-er.
  • Not really into new activities or things.
  • First reaction is ‘no’, when asked to do/try something new.


  • Usually the serious and analytical type
  • They see what needs to be changed, not necessarily the good.

As you can see, all of this adds up to a lot of work and energy required by the parents but it is also not the child’s fault that they experience the world like this.  In fact, there are many benefits to being spirited.

Intensity – They can be more enthusiastic, motivated, passionate and committed.  And can add more excitement to life.

Sensitivity – Can have a richer life from noticing sounds, smells, sights and feelings that others would never have experienced in the same way.

Adaptability – Children who are prepared in advance can have no problems with transitions.

Perceptive – They take in great detail which helps them to be very creative and can enrich their lives more so than others.

Energetic – Can be a blessing keeping up with a demanding job, busy family and still having energy for other interests.

First reaction – This will be the child that is more likely to think before they act 🙂

Regularity – Once an adult, there are many many jobs that require working in the night..

Mood – They may be the ‘critical eye’ that makes good decisions.