Tips for parenting high-spirited children

All parents know that raising a child and helping them develop into a responsible and confident adult isn’t easy. But if you’ve got a high-spirited child, you may find parenting more difficult and challenging than parents around you. 

What is a high-spirited child?

There’s no single definition of a high-spirited child. However, most children who fall into this category share the following characteristics. They are:

  • Intense
  • Persistent
  • Demanding
  • Sensitive
  • Perceptive 
  • Uncomfortable with change

High-spirited children can be incredibly insightful. They can tell if you’re depressed and will try to comfort you — no matter how much you try and hide it. While this type of perception is wonderful, it can go the other way, too.

A high-spirited child is more likely to know when you’re lying to try and get them to do something. Instead of agreeing with you and doing as you ask, they may get angry and hold a grudge for a while.

5 parenting tips for high-spirited children

If you feel like you’ve tried everything and your family is still struggling, you may want to consider family or parenting therapy. Our family therapists have studied many different approaches and will be able to offer you advice and help you develop skills unique to your situation and family unit.

If you’re not ready for therapy just yet and you’re happy to try a few more things on your own as a family, take a look at our tips for parenting high-spirited children.

1. Stay calm

When your child is excessively noisy or acting out, it’s easy to lose your temper and make a bad parenting choice. No matter what’s going on, it’s important to stay calm and get to the root of the problem.

Gentle parenting reinforces the importance of being understanding. When your child misbehaves, they’re not doing it to annoy you. They’re trying to tell you something. Keeping calm can help you see past their behavior and understand what they want to say.

2. Follow through

High-spirited children can tell when you don’t mean something. To encourage them to respect and listen to you, always follow through with what you say, especially consequences and rewards. 

When you promise to do something fun with them during spring break, keep that promise and do it. Similarly, if you threaten them with a punishment if they continue misbehaving, you need to deliver that punishment if they don’t change.

3. Give them some control

High-spirited children want to be in charge and make decisions. Encourage them to be responsible and make wise choices by giving them the chance to make some family decisions.

For example, let your child decide which chores they want to do — not whether or not they’re going to do any chores. Give them a choice of three and let them pick the one they most like. This will help them understand that they need to earn decision-making privileges instead of demanding them.

4. Be a united front

If you tell your child one thing and their other parent says the opposite, your high-spirited child may try to manipulate the situation and turn it to their advantage. Over time, this can turn into a lack of trust and respect.

To improve consistency and instill the fact that you as the parent are in charge, make sure you and the other parent are on the same page. Getting other family members involved can help even more.

5. Promote empathy

When high-spirited children grow up with a profound sense of empathy, they become incredible leaders. They learn the importance of influencing others over dominating them.

Give your high-spirited child the best start possible by encouraging them to put themselves in the shoes of others. Talk about the importance of being genuine and honest. Explain that other people, their thoughts, and their feelings are valuable and matter.

Don’t forget the good stuff

Parenting a high-spirited child isn’t always a challenging experience. When you’re feeling frustrated, overwhelmed, and out of your depth, it can be helpful to think of all the great things that come with looking after an intense child.

High-spirited children make your life interesting and introduce new adventures every day. They can inspire you to be creative and use your imagination to its fullest. A high-spirited child knows exactly who they are and as they transform into an adult, their intensity and persistency will develop into strength and confidence that allow them to succeed in life. 

We’re here for you

High-spirited children can be a lot to handle. If you’re struggling and you could do with some extra, personalized advice, get in touch with us today. Our team of Cyti therapists is here to help you better understand your child and explore different parenting methods and techniques until you find the one that works best for you.

No one knows your child better than you do. But sometimes you need an unbiased and external opinion to help you see things from a new perspective. Our therapists are trained in all kinds of pediatric and family therapy. They can introduce you to skills and approaches you’ve never before considered that may just get you the results you’re looking for.

The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. If you are in a crisis or any other person may be in danger,  these resources can provide you with immediate help:
Suicide and Crisis Lifeline 988
24 Hour Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1.800.273.8255
Crisis Text Line Text TALK to 741741