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Understanding Spirited Children

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Understanding Spirited Children. Presenters:. Fill in presenters names and titles. Ground Rules. Start on time, stay on time, and close on time. Invite participants and facilitators to be learners rather than experts.

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Fill in presenters names and titles

ground rules
Ground Rules
  • Start on time, stay on time, and close on time.
  • Invite participants and facilitators to be learners rather than experts.
  • Everyone has a chance to talk. Thus, no one is to dominate the class. Others are here to learn too.
  • No one HAS to talk. It is OK to pass at any time.
ground rules cont
Ground Rules, cont.
  • All adults must decide what fits or would work for them. There is no one right way.
  • Advice is given only when asked for.
  • No one puts anyone else down.
  • All that is shared is confidential – it stays here.
basis for program
Basis for Program

Sharing what research shows works best for most children.

introductory activity
Introductory Activity

State Your Name.

Share if you know a child who is difficult.

Hello. My name is


earth quake activity
Earth Quake Activity

This is how children with spirit often

react to their environment

what is a spirited child
What is a Spirited Child ?

This is how

Mary Sheedy Kurcinka in her book

“Raising Your Spirited Child”



temperament is
Temperament is
  • Children are born with a biological makeup that is the basis
  • Temperament is a child's natural way to react to people and the environment
  • It is their behavioral style
  • Each child's style is unique
  • Life experiences affect a child’s temperament but the style stays basically the same
things you cannot change
Male or Female

Facial Features




What the child enjoys

Body type

Skin Color

Hair Color


Maturation rate

Incurable or chronic disease

The way children think at different ages

Things you cannot change
temperament is1
Temperament IS
  • Childs temperament is only one aspect of the child – others are gender,age, birth order and learning modality
  • Situation and environment, two aspects that adults can influence
understanding temperament helps adults know
Understanding temperament helps adults know
  • What behavior to expect from the child
  • How the child will react in various situations
  • How to respond more effectively
temperament pie
Each of us has a unique, special temperament. The same is true for our children. Each temperamental trait your child exhibits is like a slice of the child. Understanding these traits gives us insights into how to interact with the child.Temperament Pie

Modified and Adapted by Nan Baumgartner from: Basic Parenting, Foundation Resources, Kansas State University Cooperative Extension Service

a new perspective
A New Perspective
  • Positive
  • Assertive
  • Expressive
  • Creative
  • Dramatic
  • Honest
  • Curious
  • Careful
  • Persistent
  • Selective


  • Aggressive
  • Loud
  • Manipulative
  • Wild
  • Mouthy
  • Nosy
  • Anxious
  • Demanding
  • Picky
labels stick like burrs
Labels Stick Like Burrs
  • How easy is it for a child to develop a positive sense of self when these words are used to describe him?
labels and self fulfilling prophecy
Labels and Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
  • Unfortunately, negative labels can become self-fulfilling prophecies, filling our minds and draining our energy.
  • Our expectation may HELP or HINDER the child by influencing his or her self-perceptions.
  • Kids are apt to live up to or down to what they believe/perceive to be expected of them.

Fortunately, each label has

a potential strength.

a new perspective1
A New Perspective
  • Does re-labeling the Spiritedchild’s behavior make the behavior acceptable?
    • NO! Spirited children need to experience the consequences of their misbehavior, the adult need to help the child realize when their spiritedness has become misbehavior.
  • Re-labeling helps us develop a + picture of our child that reminds us of their value and potential.
a new perspective cont
A New Perspective cont.

Our responsibility, as adults is to:

  • Guide and teach appropriate and socially acceptable ways of dealing with intense emotions.
a new perspective cont1
A New Perspective cont.
  • When we hold a vision of the potential it gives us HOPE!
  • It takes practice to change those – behaviors into + strengths
  • There are strategies that will help adults teach spirited children
  • Dr. Stanley Turecki, author of “The Difficult Child” suggests the use of the following management skills:
  • DEFINE – recognize how the trait effects the child’s behavior.
  • AVOID the incorrect labels that demean the child and pass judgment.
  • SAY THIS label the true behavior for the child. Be consistent so the child understands what is happening to them.
  • Finally, DO THIS – take action. Do what needs to be done in a + manner.
  • Remember child is not doing this ‘on purpose’.
  • Accept child as they are.
  • Have reasonable expectations.
  • Realize what triggers the behavior and change the environment to eliminate or reduce the trigger.
  • Identify (name) what is happening and teach your child how to handle difficult situations.
always continued
Always: continued
  • Make eye contact
  • Use images, action and words to communicate your message.
group temperament study
Group Temperament Study
  • Select the temperament you want to learn more about
  • Go stand by that characteristic
  • As a group review the information on the temperament.
  • Have a reporter offer the entire group the highlights of this temperament (what it’s like and strategies that work)
closing activity
Closing Activity

Using the ABC’s sheet find the letters of a ‘more’ child’s name.

i have an
I have an






Child. . . and I’m glad for it!

  • Please help us make this program better.
  • Please leave your evaluations on your table

Your input is appreciated!

program was provided by
Program was provided by:

(insert agencies involved in the presentation)


Visit the UWEX Spirited Child website

thank you

Thank You


Understanding Kids

It’s Worth It!

this program made possible through
This Program Made Possible Through:

University of Wisconsin-Extension, U.S. Department of Agriculture and Wisconsin counties cooperating.

UW-Extension provides equal opportunities in employment and programming, including Title IX and ADA.

powerpoint originally developed by
PowerPoint Originally Developed By:

Donna Doll-Yogerst, Professor and

Family Living Agent, Oconto County

UW- Extension

And adapted for HCE use by

Faden Fulleylove-Krause, Professor and Family Living Educator, Calumet County UW-Extension

December 2005