"Spirited" child - sibling implications

Hello BPN, Seeking advice from other parents of "spirited" children. Our 3 year old son is lovely and also has a classic "strong-willed"/"spirited" temperament. I wonder whether introducing younger sibling would be too much for him (and us)! Any experience/advice about having a second child in a similar scenario? Thank you!

Parent Replies

Parents, want to reply to this question? Sign in to post.

Hi - we were in EXACTLY that scenario. Our son is now four and our second son is now 6 months.

TL;DR: it's been so awesome to see him grow into a big brother, a true pleasure!

Prepping - we spent months prepping him for having a little brother or sister and us spending a bit less time with him, but also all the positives.

The beginning - The first few weeks he hated the baby and wanted to get rid of it. But that period ended after a few weeks to a month. After that it's been smooth sailing. His only complaint is that the baby can't do a bunk bed yet.

"Special time" - we do make sure to have special alone time with him (one parent at a time) and call it out to him. We did that especially int he beginning, even if it was just 5-10 minutes. We haven't needed to do that since.

You asked, regarding having another child: "I wonder whether introducing younger sibling would be too much for him (and us)!"  Of course it would be. 

  I'm glad you're asking for help--NOW, because strong willed children grow up to be strong willed adults. We want them to be considerate, genuinely kind, good-hearted with others rather than follow the me-me-me road they seem 'driven' to follow. Please google "strong-willed child" and you will find many articles, books and such. I recommend: How to Talk so Kids Will Listen & Listen so Kids will Talk -- by  Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish.   And there's: The EXPLOSIVE Child, by Ross W. Greene.  Local libraries have both of these. 

Hello! We have a ~3.5 year old and 14 month old. My older son has always been very good natured and sweet, but age 3 has been a doozy. I hear year 4 is similar so we’ll see. My son didn’t initially have a hard time with his new brother but I would say around 6 months later, he started getting extremely jealous and needy with me. It was a very difficult few months but then it has subsided mostly. He has his ups and downs and also went through a rough hitting stage with myself, dad, and his brother, but that has also gotten better though hasn’t completely stopped. If your son is already 3 now, then it might help that they’ll be older when the baby comes and as the baby gets older. That being said, I think no matter the personality or age gap, it’s hard at various stages regardless. Part of me thinks it would have been easier to have had them closer together before emotions like jealousy really develop so strongly. But then closer in age would have been harder for other reasons. Our 2nd baby started crawling and walking very early so that also complicated things but you can’t control or predict that. Now that our 14 month old is older and able to play somewhat, they are playing more and more and clearly like each other’s company. I’m hopeful that the next year will start to get easier and they’ll end up being really good friends and playmates. 

My oldest is a spirited child.  He's 7 and also has ADHD and anxiety. Often it's hard to untangle what is his temperament and what is his anxiety/ADHD and so it's hard for me to answer purely as a parent of a spirited kid but I'll try.

We're currently expecting our 4th, so I think you can guess my answer about more kids. :) It is really intense at our house just by sheer numbers and their ages (7, 5 and 2 soon to be 3) and temperaments (kids and adults) and diagnoses. It is loud and a bit chaotic and exhausting. Parenting can be really intensive right now and a bit constraining as its hard to take everyone anywhere all at once. But I would definitely do it again.

Several reasons for this. One of course is I often enjoy the energy, the kids interactions with each other and I enjoy the variety in their personalities and interests. We always talked about a big family and I think we'd be lonely with only one kid. Our oldest is also an extrovert and I'm an intervert and so it's nice to have other playmates besides me around all the time.

Things that have helped us make this work: a good support network made up of professionals (babysitters that get my kid, a therapist for him and me, excellent school community, parenting coach, etc) and friends (neighbors, church people, etc); a lot of grace for ourselves and kids; constant evaluation about what to prioritize; the temperaments and current lack of other special needs for our other kids; and me being able to work a part-time flexible job.

I would say that life like this is not for everyone and a lot probably depends on your personality and needs, work life, and what supports you have. But I don't think having one (or more) spirited kid precludes having another one (or 3).

I don’t think there is any clear answer to this. I wondered the same thing when we had our second child - now both are teens (the spirited one has officially been since diagnosed with ADD). Our first was your child’s age when #2 was born and so the first two years were still spent sort of managing #1. We were lucky that #2 was easier temperamentally (then). I think have a sibling is good in helping the spirited one develop the needed social skills in interacting with others and understanding that the works doesn’t cater to them…but on the flip side, having a spirited kid is hard regardless, whether you have one or multiple kids! In our situation it has been challenging in later years - and maybe that’s unique for us because of the ADD…but I love the unique personalities of both my kids. So I don’t think there is a perfect answer other than to say that if you move forward with a second because you want one, you’ll manage! I think having a strong support network would have helped in our situation. It definitely has put our marriage to the test many times (but we’ve survived). Knowing early on whether the spiritedness is something else (e.g. ADHD) also helps. 

We spent four years asking ourselves the same question! We decided to try since the odds weren't in our favor anyway and shockingly I managed to get pregnant. Now one year in with a new baby I can say it was absolutely the right choice for them. They LOVE each other and even though it has brought some bigger feelings out from my eldest towards her parents (frustration and sadness about not getting our undivided attention) she never blames her sister for it. I will say for me, it's been a rough year but I'm still glad we did it. I went into it knowing 0-3 was going to be absolutely crazy since things didn't start to ease up with my eldest until around 3-4 when she got a bit easier. There is serious guilt about not being as present with either kid but when they play together it feels worth it. I do carry a lot of sadness about the toll it's taken on my relationship with my eldest, I lose my patience with her over stuff I used to not sweat because it'll wake the baby etc. I hope our relationship recovers but as an older parent I feel so much better about her going through life with someone else who will hopefully be there for her after I'm gone. I'm not at all close with my sister so I know it's not a guarantee but one can hope. But I can also say that it would've been fine and great if she had stayed an only too. She was never a kid who begged for a sibling and I think she would've also enjoyed keeping us all to herself.   

I am the grandmother of two "spirited" twins who love each other dearly and are best playmates. From an early age the entire family has read and used the Spirited Child books and workbooks. Like the books recommend, lots of water play, outdoor activity,1-2-3 Magic methods are essential. Beginning first grade was a challenge, since before that they had more freedom to bounce about and roam in school. Since then they have been diagnosed with ADHD, one more than the other, and have IEPs in their school. Remedies involved bouncie cushions in class, sitting closer to the teacher, and learning to focus and organize.

I am the mother of their father who was a "spirited child" back in the days when it was called hyperactive. As a teacher myself I was familiar with  the remedy at the time  Rydilyn and steered clear of drug remedies and relied, as today with the twins, on outdooor activity, adventure and active play.

Hope this helps.

My 3 year old sounds similar to yours. I believe some of it is age, but I'm also not surprised by her strong will given other family members personalities. We decided that for her sake and for ours she needed to have another sibling. We have a baby arriving in a few months so I don't know how it will go. In the beginning when we told her she was hesitant, but now she is excited and she keeps asking if the baby is here yet. I know there will be many adjustments, but I feel that it is important for her to learn how to adapt.

Our first child was strong-willed to say the least.  She also was and is a perfectionist. She is now 47 years old and with similar traits, still a lovely person.  We had a second daughter when she was 3.5 and another son when she was 9.  I can't imagine my children without each other now. They celebrate and support their siblings and it warms my heart as I am in my mid 70's.  

Ours was spirited and it helped us decide on being one and done. We weren't sure we could manage to enjoy being parents while trying to be good parents for two.

Ours also developed anxiety later, so we were glad we had the extra resources (money, time, patience) to help our kid and still enjoy life/parenting.

I'm sure our whole family would have enjoyed having a second in many ways. But the trade offs and risks outweighed the very likely positives --for us.  I was also looking at genetics--just in terms of personalities--we don't really have a lot of happy- go-lucky people in our families. I'm expecting to need to extra time/patience for future years too--bigger kids, bigger problems. 

Yes! Our older son is spirited, highly sensitive, and just diagnosed with ADHD. He's now 7 and the sibling struggles have been real since his brother was born 4 years ago. If I had been younger/less risk averse/knew what I know now I would have waited another couple of years before having a second. There is so much jealousy and from what I have seen in other families the further apart your kids are, the less jealousy there is because the kids are less likely to want the same things and maybe the older one grows out of wanting to be treated the same as the baby. That said, we love both of our kids so much and there are moments of sweetness between them that I hope will increase as they get older. But if I had it to do again, I wouldn't say not to have the second kid, I would just have waited a little longer.

Reading through the posts, lots of the "spirited" kids are ADHD. My oldest one too. He also had lots of other developmental issues which typically go along with ADHD, like low processing speed and low muscle tone. He was so difficult that I waited 10 years to have another kid. I was afraid it would have the same problems, and I couldn't survive two "special" kids. For some reason, I had an overwhelming desire to have another one (hormones?), so I went ahead and had a lovely girl. Looking back though, I would not have had kids at all. I know it's a horrible thing to say, but that's how I feel now. My oldest one has very serious issues; things got way worse in his teen and young adult years. My young one is frustrated and anxious because she's often overlooked and under-appreciated because my husband and I need to spend so much time dealing with her brother's issues. He's mostly good with her, although of course they have their moments, so that's nice. I am sure I have not answered your question, but I hope this helps you brainstorm on your own. Remember that the desire ot have kids in general (one or more) changes with time. It did for me

Hi there, Just wanted to pop into say I only have the one, but he is "spirited" and has been diagnosed w/ ADHD and other issues. I wasn't worried about attention for a younger child, I just never had one. But I will say that sometimes I think it's a good thing I only have one kid because of the cost of the various therapies we've paid for over the years. If we had two kids, it would have been harder to find the money. But he is an absolute darling with his younger cousin, who is 7 years younger. He "babysits" when we are at the grandparents and he's so gentle and sweet with him, so I think he would have been great with a little sibling. 

Thanks for allowing us to offer input into your situation with your "spirited" 3-yr old son.  Of course you and your partner are the ones who'll make the final decision. But since you asked:  I feel it's better to either NOT have a 2nd child or at least wait several years before birthing a 2nd child (my sis and I are 8 yrs apart--and we are very close). Waiting will give you a chance to see more clearly what work and $ may lie ahead for your son as he ages (my sis & I are 8 yrs apart; we're very close-- my parents didn't wait for any reason other than there were already 3 of us in the home). -- If your son needs more attention than the regular classroom, for example, then this could become the start of more $ and time, energy, even sleepless nights that he will require.--------- As the mother of 2 sons, three years apart, with my eldest being disabled (learning challenges, seizures,ADHD and now with a bipolar diagnosis) I know that my 2nd son didn't received the attention he needed because his older brother absorbed it all.  If you like dogs--why not consider getting one for your child?  Yes, you'll have to care for the dog..but ultimately, a dog is a companion too -- this is certainly the case with my son.  This wondrous rescue dog has been one of the best 'medicines' for treating son's self-centeredness, compaints, etc.  Ultimately, perhaps at some point you & your son can attend dog training classes.  All the best.