Raising a Spirited Child – Intensity


Intense – having or showing strong feelings or opinions; extremely earnest or serious.

In our household, intensity is one of the most apparent signs of our spirited child. He has a strong opinion and emotion for everything. He loves intensely. He gets upset intensely. He is on the extreme of every emotion.

One thing we deal with daily are tantrums. Tantrums are my button. Patience is definitely a struggle in these moments. In order to succeed in raising Mister Man well, I have to work on my patience and the way I handle my reactions to his tantrums. I can definitely tell a difference when I react quickly and yell versus when I take a breath, say a quick prayer for guidance and patience and then react.

Power struggles are a big issue for Mister Man. If he feels he cannot make a decision or is not being heard he will begin a tantrum immediately. This is a hard one for me as I want him to make decisions and I try my best to listen intently when he talks. But when he gets into the downward spiral, he yells, screams and still expects to be heard. In our house, we do not listen until he is calm and can speak with respect. But getting him to that point is hard.

One thing that has helped is getting on his level, staying calm and touching his shoulder. This shows him we are there for him. Staying calm is a great reminder of how we expect him to act. This does not mean I am giving in. I am still firm on my expectations. But telling him in a calm manner helps him hear me instead of shutting me out. In fact, many times he will immediately pull himself in for a hug and it isn’t long before he has calmed himself down. Once he is calm, it is much easier to discuss what happened and how he might handle it better next time. When he is calm he is able to hear what we are saying and participate in the conversation. Talking about the situation when he is upset is like talking to a wall, he hears nothing. Yelling at him when he is upset is the same, he has lost all ability to comprehend what is being said and has shut himself off from everything else. In fact, yelling only intensifies his reaction and adds to the time he needs to calm himself.  At this point in his life, helping him calm down is the only way to make a difference in the situation.

When I can stay calm and patient with him, he responds more quickly and in a much better way. It’s when I get upset that things turn South quickly.

Raising a spirited child is about him and even more about me. It’s how I can work on my reactions to display how I would like him to act. It’s about teaching him how to handle himself and his emotions. He has to know that life will throw him curve balls, he will be wronged, people will not listen and he has to be able to handle himself with dignity and poise.

Intensity Tips

Life is hard and his intense emotions can be great for him if he learns to reel them in when necessary and focus on the positive. It’s a daily struggle, but at the end of the day he is an amazing kid, that just needs some extra direction and support.


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