For a while I have thought that something was off about my daughter. She reacts with high emotion to many activities including being told to come and eat dinner, needing to leave a place she wants to play like the park. She hates tags on clothes, used to hate having her diaper changed as a newborn and infant, hated taking a bath when it was her first time and many other things, like had trouble with sleep, and doesn’t like textures of certain foods and gaged on them.
My daughter is polar opposite of my son in her temperament. She seems to be needy, clingy, wanted to be held all the time when she was younger and even now sometimes as a toddler. She hates being alone for a time out, she is intense in how she reacts emotionally to seemingly anything. I finally got to a point where I just accepted that this is who she is and I don’t get as frustrated and angry when she doesn’t listen or obey what I want her to do. I have come to the realization that there must be something about a food that is not right for her if she doesn’t want to eat it, she may be in pain, scared, or any number of other emotional issues that are distressing her and that is why she is reacting as she is. It has been extremely exhausting for the most part and sometimes embarrassing because people think that me and my husband just spoil her and don’t discipline her very well.
I am so grateful to have found some explanations as to what is really going on for my daughter. I was listening to a parenting podcast online and heard of the book entitled Raising your Spirited Child; A Guide for parents whose child is more intense, sensitive, perceptive, persistent, and energetic. The author explains nine different aspects to this spirited child including intensity, persistence, sensitivity, perceptiveness, adaptability, regularity, energy, first reaction, and mood.
Jessica rates high in most things except first reaction and mood where she does better with. Jessica is intense in how she experiences her emotions. She doesn’t just cry but wails and explodes. I used to think she was experiencing emotions deeply and intensely like I do. She has staying power and can cry for a very long period of time without letting up unless you pick her up and console her. My husband ignores her which has driven me up a wall because I figure she’s not really learning anything like how to control her emotions, but this trait they call persistence which means they are goal oriented and unwilling to give up easily. Jessica is sensitive in the fact that she has to have quiet to sleep, doesn’t like tags on clothes and needs her socks just so, she is a picky or ‘selective’ eater, and she has strong reactions to how things feel whether they are good or bad. She continuously apologizes when my husband and I are having a heated argument.
The fourth defining characteristic of a spirited child from this book is perceptiveness. Jessica has always noticed little things especially animals like birds in the air, that was her first word, bird. It was a very small bird I would not have noticed at first so high up. She is not great with remembering directions because she can get easily distracted with playing like when we are getting dressed in the morning. Adaptability has been the worst. She hates when one activity ends and another begins especially when that involves leaving the park or other extremely active activity. She requires anywhere from 10-20 minutes to transition from sleep to waking up right now that involves nursing still. I don’t know what will happen when we stop that. She has always been irregular with her sleep, eating, and even BM’s. I learned that these kids need a more rigorous schedule even though they seem like they don’t want a schedule at all. Jessica is high energy and always moving. She climbs on the couch still even though we have established a rule that that is not allowed. Even when she is supposed to be doing something quiet like coloring at the table, she is moving. She is so much happier when she has moved a lot in any given day. Jessica is an extrovert to a very high level so her first reaction to things is not always negative and she doesn’t seem to hold back too much but she does like to watch things a bit before jumping in sometimes and has had more difficulty adjusting to when she first arrives to pre-school or children’s church. Her mood does not seem bad to me as she is usually in a good mood and positive.
I am not sure that Jessica actually has a sensory processing disorder. This is what Star Institute has to say about SPD, “ Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), exists when sensory signals are either not detected or don’t get organized into appropriate responses. Pioneering occupational therapist, educational psychologist, and neuroscientist A. Jean Ayres, PhD, likened SPD to a neurological “traffic jam” that prevents certain parts of the brain from receiving the information needed to interpret sensory information correctly. A person with SPD finds it difficult to process and act upon information received through the senses, which creates challenges in performing countless everyday tasks. Motor clumsiness, behavioral problems, anxiety, depression, school failure, and many other problems may impact those who do not have effective treatment.” https://www.spdstar.org/basic/about-spd
Getting evaluated may be something we will look into in the future depending on how much trouble we have or what things we need to have Jessica learn, like to eat probiotic foods which could be a texture issue. As of now I am learning a lot from the Spirited Child book.