Saturday, October 3, 2009

Outgrown Intensity

For years now I have written about Tiff's intense nature. She is turning 8 years old next Monday! I have to share that her sensitivity and intensity has faded so much as she has grown. She is so much like me and we are both very sensitive people.

I remember when she was only 2 years old, she used to scream for everything. She wouldn't let me brush her teeth and finding clothes that didn't annoy her was challenging. Everything seemed to be such a struggle. I never thought that I could have any other children with the intensity of her needs. It was more than I ever thought parenting could ever be...

I honestly could cry thinking about how hard it was to parent a child like Tiff was for years. Now, I am proud to say that Tiff can not be considered "Sensitive" or "Intense" anymore. I thought that I would be always parenting a child with unique needs, but not anymore.. The qualities that made her intense in the past have made her so helpful and focused on getting whatever it is she wants in life.

After 8 years with a child who screamed and cried and yelled to voice her needs, I realize that it was only such a short season in her life. We never punished her for the way she voiced her needs. We talked, explained, discussed, shared and connected. Tiff has grown to be the most incredible human being. When we honor our kids, wherever they are, and parent them respectfully and lovingly they learn that they can always count on us to love them unconditionally! Tiff, my darling, sensitive daughter is my best friend, and such a little advocate for respectful, peaceful parenting. She is truly the most kind, loving person that I know to others.

We were told by others that if we didn't punish her she would never grow out of it, or learn that the way she was communicating wasn't "appropriate". Well those *others* were wrong... You never need to punish a child for them to learn these things in life.

Tiff has an incredible altruistic quality and understanding of others needs.. I know in my heart that this is because we have always respected and met her needs as a person, as hard as it was to stay centered in the midst of her intensity. Tiff... my intense daughter has now outgrown the label of "intense" and "sensitive" and has come out on the other side.

Tiff is a Whole, Perfect, Beautiful Girl inside and out.

I love you little girl! I have always trusted *Who You Were*. It was all worth it.. You are the most amazing human being that I have ever met. I can't imagine who you would be today if I would have listened to others who told me to put you in school, and medicate you into compliance and obedience for the last few years. I am so glad that I listened to my inner knowing that All Would Be Well.

This is the last post that I will write about Tiff's former Intense nature. We are moving forward and leaving it behind. Her sensitivity is a gift and something I am so grateful for.


2Shaye ♪♫ said...

What a beautiful post. I have two young, fairly sensitive screamers. My calmer one is 1 and the other just turned 4. The second time around it's been far more easy to handle peacefully. However, remembering the first time still brings tears to my eyes because I was so confused, so afraid, and so unsure of what to do. My husband and I would constantly remind each other "he's just 1" then the next year "he's just 2" and on and on... But there were still days that I wasn't sure how to maintain my calm or how to keep from screaming.

Your post is a breath of fresh air and I'm sure many need the constant reminder that these days are very short. They may seem like an eternity (especially if we're lacking in sleep or are taking on more work than we should), but they don't last long at all. The best thing we can do is trust and respect and maintain our peaceful relationship with our children.

I'm new to your blog, Dayna. Actually, we're new to lots of things these days, including unschooling. So I'm delighted to have found you. I'm going to add your book to my list of "wants" for Christmas and I'll also add it to our list of suggestions for the local libraries. I sincerely look forward to reading your blog regularly.


Krista said...

Oh, how I needed to read this today! They are ALL so unique, aren't they? My four are all so different, a joy and a challenge in totally different ways, each. My oldest has been exceptionally "easy going" all his life, but there is another side to that, he is really hard to get to know! He doesn't express himself vivaciously, hardly at all actually. He keeps himself stuffed in a bottle. I worry about him because of it. My middle two are high high highly intense and overly expressive, it is a joy getting to know them, but I am exhausted by their energy most of the time. My last is a little lady. Screams a lot, as you describe Tiff did, but it has taught me to take time to be present and to connect with care. I really needed to learn that skill, and she has been the catalyst. All my children have benefited because of her :)
This is such a beautiful post, I thank you for sharing and congrats on all the learning and loving you both have experienced being together! I love the song on your playlist too, so great.

Krista said...

ps, bought your book a while back and really love it. It hasn't left my bedside table for a couple of months! Glad you blog so I can enjoy more of you all!

Danielle said...

Annalise loves that picture of Tiff!

Penny said...

Inspiring Dayna, thank you for sharing.

My "Tiffany" just turned 8, and while the "intensity" isn't quite behind her yet, I see the day coming.

Watching you honor your daughter has helped me to honor mine, and grow with her. I'm pretty intense myself.

Thank you :)

Charli Armstrong said...

Dayna, thank you so much for sharing this! I will always remember this post.

Sam said...

Oh how timely! DH and I have been really struggling to stay connected to our intense daughter. Her moods rule the roost and set the tone for everyone in our family.

I am grateful for this post, and feel relieved to hear that if we follow our hearts with our children all will be well :)

Thank you.

Sam said...

I forgot to add, one book that has been instrumental for me in this regard is Naomi Aldort's 'Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves'.

Five Lifelong Learners in one family! said...

Hi. Just starting to follow your blog - thanks for this post - God knows I need it today! :)

Jacqui said...

Yes - thank you for this post - after a particularly intense day with a couple of - comments passed re 'you will have to get that behaviour stopped'
I needed some re-affirmation that I need to listen to my son and value his qualities.
I hope Tiffany has a wonderful day on Monday.

Rugbie said...

Awesome! Totally flies in the face of conventional parenting.

Anonymous said...

You should write a book on parenting an intense child. I think the term conventional parenting uses is strong-willed. I think people need ideas when all they are told is punish your child or they will always be that way...

Dragonfly said...

Hi Dayna,

I've been following your blog for a while and Tiffany reminds me some of my daughter who is turning 8 next month. She is still the same intense, creative, strong-willed girl and I love that about her, but-yes-she is learning to express it in more socially acceptable ways. Something I've always helped her with. I try to remind parents I meet with intense, strong-willed children that our culture really admires these traits in adults and--yes--they are hard to parent in the traditional manner, but there is another way. I hope our girls get to meet someday.

Hillary said...

Thanks so much for this. Our first was a particularly intense baby and now at 5 he has mellowed out so much. I think he felt so helpless as a baby and as soon as he gained verbal skills he was 100% of a happier kid.

My second on the other hand was the most contented peaceful baby who has now turned two and boy does the lion roar around here! lol!

It's so helpful to remember that each of them are on their own developmental journey. There is nothing "wrong" with them and with love and support their make their way through.

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Mrs. Lindhorst said...

I've been enjoying reading your blog and watching your youtube videos. This sounds so much like my daughter who just turned 7. She is slowly outgrowing her intense nature, but still has her moments. At home she is doing much better, but seems to be having the most trouble in school. I also think that the stress of being in school and being forced to learn in a way that does not support her individual learning style and natural intellectual curiosity is causing her to meltdown at home as well. Of all the parenting advice out there, your approach seems to be the one that feels right to me. I was very interested to read this post and find out you have a very spirited daughter a like mine who may not be the easiest to parent. I am wondering what kinds of things you have specifically done to nurture her intense spirit. I definitely think some of the traditional parenting tactics many would suggest are counterproductive. I also find it very hopeful that your daughter's issues resolved themselves on their own. I also think it's great how you don't see her nature as a problem, but as a strength. I would pull my daughter out of school in a minute if she wanted to, but she actually wants to go, so at home I am doing whatever I can to facilitate her learning and exploration. I just wish school and homework didn't take so much of our time. I am also an elementary art teacher and the more I read about unschooling and alternative educational philosophies, the more I feel at odds with my work environment. I may someday move in a different career direction, but for the time being, I am working on making my art classroom as student centered as possible and learning about something called "Choice Based Art Education". I have started using this approach in my classroom and students have responded well to it. Anyway, I just wanted to say I have found your writing on parenting and unschooling to be very inspirational and if you have the time to respond with any specific advice about the best way to handle a wonderful, intense, spirited and sensitive child like your Tiff and my Ellie, that would be great! Thanks!