If your toddler is on an emotional roller coaster, a parenting class can help.

Spirited Toddler Parenting Classes

by Joann MacDonald

Demanding, strong-willed, intense, passionate, creative -- these adjectives probably describe most active toddlers. But maybe your little one is more dramatic, more emotionally intense and more energetic than his peers. A toddler on an emotional roller coaster takes Mom along for the ride. Despite your best efforts, parenting your challenging toddler can bring you to tears. A parenting class geared to moms of children just like yours can help.

The Spirited Child

Author Mary Sheedy Kurcinka coined the phrase “spirited child” after her son Joshua was born in 1979. She couldn’t find classes or books to describe a strong-willed and often difficult child like hers. She felt that “spirited” recognized his strengths and potential rather than just his negative qualities. In her book “Raising Your Spirited Child,” Kurcinka describes spirited children as being more intense, persistent, sensitive, perceptive and uncomfortable with change than other children. She compares spirited kids to Super Balls in a world of regular rubber balls. Moms often realize their child’s temperament is different from others at about 18 months to 3 years old, notes Helen Neville, a nurse and parent-educator. Maybe your child is frequently pushing, hitting or biting and you're upset about his actions and feeling badly about your parenting skills.

Help Is On The Way

Sometimes the mother of a spirited toddler just can’t do it alone -- daily tantrums and extreme reactions have you feeling overwhelmed and discouraged. Parenting strategies that your friends use just don’t work with your sensitive child. Recognizing the challenges that mothers face, Kurcinka founded Spirited Child workshops to offer parents strategies for raising their moody, creative and lovable little beings. Throughout the country, parent educators now offer classes that focus on building a stronger relationship with challenging toddlers. Given that 10 to 15 percent of children in this country fit the description of the spirited child, you definitely aren’t alone.


Look for classes that focus on nurturing your child’s positive qualities while helping you to set effective, nonviolent limits. Spirited toddlers are often joyful, funny and loving, and parenting workshops will encourage you to build on these strengths. Classes may include lectures, videos, group discussion, worksheets, homework and reading suggestions. The focus should be on building a strong relationship with your child, managing your own anger and reducing conflict in the family. Be prepared with an idea of the goals you want to set for yourself and your child.

Finding A Class

Instead of pulling out your hair the next time your toddler freaks out over a too-scratchy sweater, look for a specialized class for parents of spirited children in your area. Often, these classes are offered through hospitals or family support centers. Temperament.com lists resources to help Mom tailor her parenting techniques to her child’s specific behavioral style, including classes for parents of spirited toddlers. Nurturingourfamilies.com also lists resources like workshops by parenting experts.


About the Author

Joann MacDonald has been a professional writer for 17 years. She holds a degree in English and a Master of Arts in journalism. For more than 14 years, she was a communications specialist for a large public school system. She has also written for numerous magazines in the Greater Toronto Area. She blogs about thrift store shopping, parenting and vegetarian cooking.

Photo Credits

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