50 surefire ways to tell your child is Spirited


When our little man Zayne was born we should have know better. We named him Zayne afterall. Within his first couple weeks he developed colic and we tried everything from reflux meds, multiple routine changes, cutting milk completely out of my diet, and when all else failed, taking turns and turning up the tv. Fast forward 2 years and I now realize the kid didn’t have colic.

He was spirited.

how to tell you have a spirited kid

Now don’t get me wrong. I LOVE the crap out of this kid. Zayne is probably the funniest human being I have ever met and he melts my heart to its core every time he smiles. He’s full of energy, hilarious, loves to play, and loves to be the center of attention. He’s our little ham. I think part of being spirited also includes being an exceptional person that just has so much emotion they don’t know what to do with it yet. Zayne is responsible for at least 3 other babies (due to his overwhelming cuteness) and everyone we meet that comes in contact with him is smitten. But he’s tough. Tough in a way I could not have imagined had I not had kids. Thank goodness he was our second.

For example, ever hear of the kids that hold their breath until they pass out when they are upset? Well come to find out that isn’t a stubborn thing at all. Ever since Zayne was 1 we have been dealing with these “breath-holding spells” in where he gets so upset he can’t actually breathe, he never starts crying, his eyes roll in the back of his head, and boom, he passes out (sometimes followed by a mini seizure). It sounds terrifying and it very much was at first. Now we just know to pick him up before he passes out and hold him until he comes too. He literally gets so upset that he can’t control his emotions. Our doctors have told us he will grow out of them and for the most part he seems like he is already. But let me tell you, this appears to only be the beginning of his spirited nature (we have now replaced passing out with a 1 hour plus daily tantrum).

So, in the spirit of hopefully sharing a laugh or possibly a confirmation on whether your little one is following down the spirited path… Here is my list:

50 surefire ways to tell if your kid is spirited:

  1. They had colic. In our case, it was not colic. He was just pi$$^+ off
  2. A tantrum is more than just a tantrum. It’s an apocalypse
  3. Stubborn doesn’t begin to explain it
  4. You BOTH parrot the word NO until you are blue in the face
  5. No matter how hard you try, you don’t rule the house. They do.
  6. Sleep? HAHAHAHHA
  7. Your kid is likely more dramatic than all soap operas combined
  8. Persistence. Need I say more?
  9. Most spirited kids have 2 speeds. BOTH are intense.
  10. Their feelings get hurt easily. It’s sad, but also adorable.
  11. Sometimes you fear your kid.
  12. The energy bunny has nothing on a spirited kid.
  13. Until they crash…. Because they can crash HARD
  14. Speaking of crashing, ever see a spirited child when they are exhausted?
  15. They can be overly moody, cranky, or just downright nasty for no reason.
  16. They can also be overly huggy and lovey for no reason. That’s more fun but can also overwhelm other kids.
  17. When you visit the ER (which we frequent often) the doctor immediately responds with “wow s/he has a lot of energy” or “I’m sure this won’t be the last time we see you.”
  18. You get hit. A lot.
  19. Your furniture gets hit. A lot.
  20. Your toys get thrown. A lot.
  21. When you say no, sometimes your toys also get kicked or (if heavier) tipped and thrown over in a moment of toddler rage.
  22. Be careful how you peel the banana. Do not take the peel OFF the banana. But whatever you do, do not let the banana break from the peel.
  23. Screaming may be their first language.
  24. You have anxiety at the thought of trying to feed your kid.
  25. You are pleasantly shocked when they do in fact eat their dinner.
  26. They are some of the funniest humans you will ever meet.
  27. They are likely the leaders of your playgroup.
  28. They are smart, and you probably can’t get much by them.
  29. They test EVERYTHING
  30. They don’t like upsetting you. It makes them even more upset.
  31. You can’t really tell the difference between the play scream and the tantrum scream.
  32. They are extroverted. In ALL situations.
  33. You need to put gates up everywhere. Not for typical safety issues, but for fear they may jump down 5 flights of stairs and use them as a personal stunt ramp.
  34. You will never have to worry about them standing up for themselves.
  35. They can break up a party with just one tantrum.
  36. Your friends will often ask: How do you do it?
  37. You hear “what’s that” or “what’s this” constantly from your kid.
  38. A hug or a kiss is so genuine it warms your heart to a level of which you think it may explode.
  39. They do not transition well. Planning your day around a schedule is a must.
  40. They will only snuggle, hold your hand, or sit on your lap if they want too.
  41. The kid bribes more than the parent.
  42. Life is a constant negotiation.
  43. Your parents love and fear the thought of babysitting.
  44. Do NOT (I repeat) do NOT try their food.
  45. You have tried every possible trick in the book to sleep train (see #6).
  46. Bonus: they potty train early.
  47. Ever hear the words “I WANT TO DO IT.” We do. Every day.
  48. Don’t try to help them when they want to do it. Unless you want to witness #2.
  49. They are irrational little beings.
  50. They are spirited. And they are awesome.

One thing I have learned through all of this: no 2 kids are alike. We have a highly sensitive boy and an extremely spirited boy. Both are tough in their own ways and both are perfect because of it.

brothers acting differently

Either way, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Originally from New Jersey my family would frequent VT for ski vacations and always saw the green mountains as a second home. When my husband Jake and I were ready to settle down we quickly found Burlington to be the perfect home for us both. We have been in VT since 2008 and now have 2 wonderful, spirited, and busy boys (Wyatt - 4, Zayne - 2) and an absolutely insane puppy, Ike. I telecommute from my home in Williston and am on a constant quest to balance being a full time executive with the demands of being mommy. Thankfully I also carry some form of super power productivity gene that forces me to multi-task at an absurd level (also known as the mommy gene)! When I'm not working or saving the world one band-aid at a time I love trying my hand at gardening, pretending to workout, and exploring. My family loves Burlington and all the area has to offer through community, health, fun, and local and sustainable living. I am so honored to be a part of this amazing team!


  1. […] We are an active family and have spent a lot of these summer days going for walks, running around, or playing outside as much as possible. At first, we thought our son was just being lazy with the “my legs are tired, I want to be carried” whines. But it started to get serious once we realized how much pain the little man was in and that no matter what we tried (bananas, vitamins, etc) nothing was working. After much debate and a few chats with his doctor, we were told he needed better foot support and that we somehow had to convince him to wear sneakers in 80-degree weather. Great. That’s perfectly easy to do with a stubborn redhead. […]

  2. This sounds a lot like autism. It’s very common for parents to be told their toddler or preschooler is “spirited” only to find out later that it was all symptoms of autism. I would know – I have three on the spectrum. I highly recommend getting an evaluation for your son.

    • Thanks for the insight Charlotte! We will certainly keep this in mind as he gets older. So far he hasn’t shown any signs but that is good to be aware of for sure.


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