Rejoicing in your Spirited Toddler

Ms Spirit herself at Yogurtology 🙂

Just a little over a year ago I can remember specifically sitting down to write the post “Rejoicing in Your Spirited Child.”  At that time Nora was 10 months old and I was just coming to terms with the fact that I indeed had given birth (and was raising) a spirited child.

You see having a spirited child and accepting that he/she is spirited is a bit of a process.  It wasn’t until I truly accepted that my sweet little Nora was indeed the poster child for spirited children that I learned to rejoice in all of that spirit.  And there really is a lot of spirit in Ms. Nora. 🙂

Let’s back up a second though and define “Spirited Child” for those who are unfamiliar with the term:

Spirited Child – high energy, feisty and very active.  They are ready to climb into almost any situation, and exercise little impulse, control or caution when they do.  They are highly reactive.  They are often described as a handful. Always into something. I don’t have the energy to keep up with her. She’s fearless.  (The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems; Tracy Hogg)

Now that a year has passed I’ve realized that my “tricks” (if you could call them that) to truly REJOICING in my spirited child have somewhat changed now that she’s a toddler.  Don’t get me wrong…I still fully believe in the 3 tips I shared in my previous post (Plan Activities Outside of the Home, Don’t be Afraid to be a Spirited Mom and Remind yourself of his/her Great Future)…there are just a few toddler specific tips I wanted to share as well.

So without further ado…here are the three tips I’ve found to be most useful in helping me REJOICE in my spirited toddler…

{1} Rise Early in the Morning. I know, I know.  I’m getting some serious death stares right now from a number of you all.  Let me explain myself.

I figured out quickly that if I wake up at the same time Nora does in the morning, I feel like I’m already behind the Eight Ball (aka: I’m in a losing position).  I spend the entire day trying to keep up with her only to come to the end of the day and feel like I’ve been drug through the mud by a 2-year old.

So personally I’ve found that if I roll out of bed with enough time to get a quick shower, eat breakfast and spend some quality “me” time BEFORE Nora wakes up, I feel 1000x better than when I don’t.  And yes I realize that with a 7 am wake-up call that means that I’m rolling out of bed around 6 am or so (and in some cases even 5 am – ugh!).  I realize that’s super early. My trick for that: COFFEE!  ‘Nough said.

Moving on…

{2} Be a student of your child. In most cases Spirited babies do not “go by the books”.  Here’s what  I mean by that – I’ve spent countless hours asking other mama’s (of non-spirited children of course) how they do this… or how they do that.  Now all of their suggestions are always wonderful but they are generally not for a spirited child.

Case in point…Joy and I were recently talking about ways to entertain our toddlers while we were feeding the babies. Joy had mentioned that she’s found luck in having Reagan bring her a book while she’s nursing and she’ll read it to her while they peacefully sit on the couch together like one big happy family (insert huge Brady Bunch cheesy grin).  Great idea…for most kiddo’s.  Not for Ms. Nora.  Reading one book for Nora is quite the task because she wants to MOVE.  Dance, sing, jump, hop, twirl.. you name it… she’ll do it WHILE you’re reading a book to her.

Which is why I suggest that you must be a student of your child.  I determined after really studying Nora, that to keep her attention for longer than 30 seconds I was going to have to find an activity that engaged her AND gave her the freedom to roam around… twirl…eat raisins…whatever spirited children do.

Insert FLASH CARDS.  I’m telling you ladies – this has been the ticket to getting us through the past 2 months.

Here’s a little video of Nora and her new fav-activity (because I couldn’t resist)

{3} Take Time Out. I realize that I’m a bit of a spirited adult.  I may have more energy than the average mom BUT I still don’t have even close to the amount of energy that Ms. Spirit has.  Which is why it is vital for my mental and physical health to take some time out.  Whether it’s for an hour to get a pedicure, going out with the hubby for a Friday Date Night, attending AZ Mom’s Night Out or even a weekend getaway with the girls,  I really value my time away to re-energize. Without this “time out” I can easily feel like my spirited child is running me dry.

And I’ll leave you with how I left you in my previous post…

Nevertheless, I do believe that if we were honest with ourselves, we could all list a handful of spirited friends and family members who make our lives 10x more exciting, who fight against injustice and can celebrate like none other.  These are the explorers and entrepreneurs in our community who are fearless about plunging ahead where others have dared not go. These are our spirited children in 18+ years.

What a joy that we get to sit on the sidelines and help assist these little one’s as they discover the up’s and down’s of life under our care!  Because after all….

When it comes to parenting, the days are long but the years are short.
–Dr. Tim Kimmel


Coincidentally this just happens to be Nora’s 2nd Birthday so I just have to send out a little shout to Ms. Spirit.

Happy 2nd Birthday Nora!

We love everything you are and everything that you will be (spirit and all).


Steph is the Co-founder of Scottsdale Moms Blog and Social Media Director for Family Matters. She is mamma to Nora (July 2009) and Elsie (May 2011) and wife of Alan.  She loves shopping for great deals, wearing funky jewery and spending loads of time with friends.  Steph gets a kick out of multitasking and loves nothing more than throwing a good party. You are always welcome to e-mail Steph at [email protected].


  1. I just love this post Steph! As a mommy of a spirited child, Connor, this post practically brought me to tears (Partly because just thinking about how much energy Connor has makes me want to cry at times 🙂 But, mostly because it reminded me to look forward to what he will become someday.. I so see Connor doing amazing things in this life!) Thank you for sharing this!! Happy 2nd Birthday to your adorable little Nora!!

    • So happy to be able to encourage you Katie!! We spirited-child mama’s need to stick together and praise one another’s efforts more often. You’re doing a GREAT job and Connor is so lucky to have him as your mom.

  2. Steph,
    I loved this post because for the last 2 months my husband has been asking me if I think there is something “wrong” with Ben. Not so much in developmental things but attitude. He is constantly moving and NEVER stops to take a breath. I keep telling him no Ben is fine he is just active and very curious, but spirited is a much better word for my son. I really could empathize with your post and was happy to see that we weren’t alone with our Spirited boy. I love his curiousity and and his constant new findings he makes me laugh and cry, he is growing so fast. Thank you for the ideas with him I will def use them.

  3. Thank you Stephanie for this post! Julien is an extremely spirited boy! I love and hate your idea to wake up ealier ugggh but think I will try it because your description of having a 2 year old drag you through the mud is exactly how I feel some days:) The great part about having a spirited child is you can usually get them really excited about most activities, and I have found if we talk about what is coming up and the behavior that is expected in specific places we have a better time focusing the spirited behavior:) ie. Splash Pad Julien is soooo excited to meet new friends and play with other people’s toys we have had to leave in tears because he would not give back or share his toys. I have found that if we talk on the way to the splash pad about what to expect there he can be really excited still but understands when his excitement needs to be redirected. One thing I have trouble with is other adults reaction to my spirited son when he is too wild. It is hard not to feel like you are doing something wrong when say your at library time and all the kids are sitting with their parents and your son is dancing in the middle of the circle:) but I have come to terms with the fact that Julien is confident with himself and this will make him a great leader:)

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