Parental Advisory

Spirited Toddler Quiz, Part 3

Woke up this morning to a screaming banshee in Ellison’s room and found it a fitting morning to proceed with our “Spirited Toddler Quiz” series where we look at the characteristics of a “spirited” toddler and see if, in our diagnosis of Ellison, that she is indeed spirited. Today, the trait we’ll be examining is “sensitivity.” Now, I’m a sensitive guy, but it’s more on the level that I sweat profusely when I talk in public places, hear Beethoven’s ninth in the back of my head when I’m watching some nature show where a deer is being chased to the death by a large mountain lion, sometimes carry grudges against baseball players and can’t finish a wedding toast without sobbing like a two year old. I’m a sensitive guy. I raise my voice and talk with my hands. I believe the children are the future. But is that the “sensitive” we’re talking about here?

Kurcinka writes:

Researchers have observed great differences in how children react to the sights, sounds and smells around them. Some children seem unperturbed by scratchy clothes, loud noises, or funny smells, whereas others are extremely sensitive.

Spirited children are both with a super set of sensors. Althought many other kids can fall asleep in a room full of people, the spirited child stays wide awake taking in every sound and sight. Sleeping in a hotel or at Grandma’s house may be a difficult task. The sheets smell weird and the pillow doesn’t feel right. Sensitive kids also respond to emotions, serving as the family stress gauge. When you feel the worst, they’ll act the worst.

To the sensitive child, every experience is a sensory bombardment. He sees, hears and smells things that others–including his parents and siblings–might miss.

Gotcha. So this has nothing to do with crying at the end of the NCAA tournament montages? Crap. Kinda wish I could get that first paragraph back now.

Sensitivity, as it’s described to us here in the context of a spirited toddler deals much more with sensory. How in tune she is with things around here. Not necessarily those bearing emotional weight or gravity. Food textures, the way a sweater feels, bananas, styrofoam (my nemesis). Let’s take the quiz and see where Ellison falls.

Starting at the top, how well does she sleep through noise, thunderstorms or, in one case, a house alarm going off? I’m going to go ahead and score this one with a “2.” Her wake ups aren’t typically reactive to “sound” as best as we can figure out. She has slept through our frightening and deafening house alarm when Daddy accidentally set it off once. She’s never awoken during a thunderstorm. However, we’ve only had one or two sense she’s been born thanks to El Nina and this suffocating drought. Still, she might wake up to a creak in the floor in the hallway, but I’m saying it’s likely she wasn’t really sleeping if she reacts to that.

How about textures? As we’re figuring out with now wearing shoes more often, she doesn’t seem too affected by having them on her feet. Has adjusted well it seems to the sensation of walking on them. She wears varied pieces of clothing with very little resistance. Not a big fan of hats, but that’s more about visibility, methinks. I’m gonna score this one as a “1.”

How about smells? If my two ends of the scale are “isn’t bothered” and “gags easily,” I’m gonna go with “isn’t bothered.” I haven’t once seen this girl gag and given the evil that is hiding in the Diaper Genie right now, I’d say that smells aren’t much of an issue for her. Her father, however, sometimes dry heaves in the backyard still. If I come in looking like I’ve been crying, I’ve been scooping up the backyard. Score it a “1.”

That brings us to, ah, the “picky eater” assessment. My lovely wife will tell you: she’s the pickiest eater out there. Actually, her brother might have her beat. Burgers come with lettuce and cheese only. Mexican food is largely out of the question. Salsa has to be mild and soupy. She’s doing a lot better with Ellison around attempting to eat a new vegetable every week. I commend her on that. I, however, will eat anything so long as it’s cooked right. Ellison definitely takes more after her daddy in that regard. She eats with very little discretion. There are a few things that get rejected as she just simply pushes it out with her tongue, but I’d say that she’s 85-90% effective garbage disposal. We just switched to soy milk and she drinks it like a fish. No issues. I’m gonna score this one a “2.”

Now, how aware is Ellison of her family’s stress level? This one’s tricky. It’s a “chicken/egg” equation for me. Am I stressed because of how she’s acting or is she acting this way because I’m stressed? I do find correlations between how she acts, though, and how I feel. I’m not positive it’s her sensitivity or intuition or just Daddy reading too far into things again. We’ll shoot middle of the scale on this one with a “3.”

Lastly, how concerned is the kiddo with “how things feel” overall? I’d say her overall temperament in this category is fairly low on the scale. Air temperature, West Texas wind gusts, Daddy blowing in her ear, cold tile floors, grass, water, new car seats, car seat straps or mushed apples and pears don’t really trigger much for her. She can sleep with the fan on or off. Door open or closed. She’s slept through house alarms, barking dogs, blazing funk, gunfire (kidding). I’m gonna score her overall as a “2.”

So if we tally up the score on sensitivity, our average is 1.83. Fairly low. What this didn’t really account for is when she falls sometimes or if you put her down, she comes unraveled and starts screaming for minutes sometimes. When she’s away from Mommy, she’s sometimes on a hair trigger. But given the outline provided, we’re scoring her a 1.83. And if you’re scoring at home, that brings our overall average to 9.16 outta 15 or an average scale score of 3.05…just past midway. Not overwhelming evidence of being “spirited,” but still a valid argument.

I’m gonna go cry now while watching the SPCA Sarah McLachlan TV spots. Leave me alone.

Daily Operation

Leftovers Fail

Not that I don’t applaud my lovely wife for saving leftovers, but when I opened the fridge this morning, I saw this message written on the lid of pictured container. Being that I thought we were done with adding things into her bottle at bed time, I opened the container to examine the contents.

Fettucini alfredo.

That’s one rich bedtime bottle. Spirited Toddler Quiz, Part 3 right around the corner. Good Wednesday to you.



Daily Operation, Snapshots

Partying With Toddlers and Tykes

After enduring RSV, colic, milk allergies, blood clots in my lovely wife’s lungs and crappy lullaby music for a year, I say it’s time to party. The other day, we took Ellison to the doc over a slight rash only to find that it was viral…wait…or fungal. Uh. Viral and fungal. Can it be both? Anyhow, it’s not contagious unless she’s cracking a fever which she hasn’t. It’s a little unsightly, but altogether harmless. Whatever.

Anyhow, the nurse practitioner replies to us menitoning that Ellison was turning one year old on Friday, “Oh, ya’ll are having a ‘princess party’!” Like, she didn’t ask if we were having a “princess party,” she said we were having a princess party. She must not read the blog.

We’re not “princess people.” We’ve resisted the notion that our daughter is a princess, queen, duchess, diva, prima donna, etc. She’s our daughter. A beautiful child of God. Unique, wonderful, extraordinarily gifted and blessed, but I’m no king, my lovely wife’s no queen, there’s no jewels in her shoes and no moat around this house. And if there was, the historic drought would’ve taken care of that. It’s not that we take everything that literally, it’s just personal preferences. We don’t want her to grow up thinking she’s a princess and we don’t want others to see her grow up under the belief she views herself as a princess or that we treat her as so. My lovely wife and I both shook our heads, turned to the nurse and in an nearly rehearsed Clint Eastwood sneer we replied coldly, “No. Ladybug.”

Ladybug. Why? Because she had a small toy growing up that we called “Lucy the Ladybug” that divert or distract her out of her colicky fits. My lovely wife started rolling with it and found that a ladybug theme was fairly common and there were plenty of resources for throwing a ladybug birthday party. Of course, these days, everything seems common because of Google. Google’s autofill function let’s you know you are not alone in this world. Online shopping blows the party planning game wide open.

If you wanted to do a pink pterodactyl theme, you can online. If you wanted to do a three-toed sloth party, you can do that online. If you wanted to do Barry Manilow breathing fire, yes, you can do that online as well. It’s pretty limitless these days. The ladybug theme, then, was a cinch and easier to explain in the future than a fire-breathing Barry Manilow. Plus, red and black resemble something true about our family and that is that Mommy and Daddy both graduated from Texas Tech. Not that it necessarily had anything to do with the decision, but it’s always nice when the theme of the party revolve around the color of your alma mater. Especially when your alternatives include five different shades of pink. So, ladybug it is. Lima provided the cake. Her skills are not to be taken lightly.I was rocking my antennae and my red and black Nikes. And a smile. You’re powerless to the influence of a one year old in a ladybug outfit. Put on your freaking antennae, homie, and get down.It was madness preparing for this event. My biggest concern was the backyard and making sure it was poop-free zone. You gotta comb that back yard with shovel, rake and afro pick. You have to ensure it’s absolutely turdless. If it’s not, you might risk an embarrassing moment, a broken friendship, lawsuit and/or never seeing your nephews again. We spent close to three hours in that back yard leaving nothing but grass, dirt (alot more dirt than grass) and some ladybug bean bags for the kiddos.

I’m here to tell you, there’s no joking about entertaining toddlers and young kiddos for two or three hours. It started with my nephew Dylan who I squared up with on a game of bean bag toss. He quickly mastered it, became bored and begun chunking them at me. Then asked, “What else do you have to play?” That was at about the ten minute mark. Okay, one hundred and ten minutes to go. To save an all-out dirt clod war, I diverted him to kickball. Some more kids showed up.

Before you knew it, we rousing game of kickball going out there complete with twice as many ghost runners as you’d ever need. Dylan cheated. That’s to be expected. I cheated a lot at that age. You can’t bunt in kickball, ghost runners only advance on a force (needed to really help some of the kids with “ghost runner” rules…think one kiddo quit because I said we were playing with ghost runners and he thought it had something to do with the occult) and you can’t go from first to third because someone walked off with second base (which was Ellison…rather Ellison walked off with second base not Ellison was second base). That’s like when I got kicked out of Arby’s for getting soda in a water cup arguing that I couldn’t “find the water.” I was in high school. Cut me some slack.

For kids not of kickball age, we had a table set up with coloring and activity sheets. I think Dylan went over there and illustrated his disappointment by this aggressive and unsettling piece. We sent it to his counselor. It was the right thing to do.We also ate cake. Everyone except for Dylan who made a point to mention to me, “I think this is the only birthday party that I’ve gone to that I’m not planning on eating cake.” He said it was because he already had a donut this morning on the way up here and he didn’t feel like it. Hmm. Well, Ellison felt like it. She made pretty quick sport of the cupcake from the top of the cake, leaving parts of it on her, on the tray and on the floor which is precisely the way that our two beagles pay their rent.After cake, we shoehorned everyone into our living room for presents. My lovely wife asked if I could be the one to open gifts because she doesn’t like being the center of attention. Gladly. Let me tell you right now, that’s a lot harder than it seems. Especially when everyone was so very generous. Ellison got so many wonderful gifts. Don’t worry everyone, personalized thank you notes are coming. I found that, by far, the most difficult part of opening the gifts is reading the cards. You got thirty-plus people watching you, two toddlers fighting in front of you, Ellison who keeps rolling off of your knee and wants to just crawl away and you open a six-panel folding card that has no less than 70 words printed on it and a handwritten message that you have no idea what it says until you read it. You don’t want to read it out loud because you don’t want to embarrass that person (I always thought you write for the reader, not for the audience so I’m never expecting for someone to read out my card to everyone in the room), but then there’s this dead air and people just stand there half-smiling while you read the card and then you, smile, maybe dramatically exhale and break the awkward silence by saying, “Thank you, Greg. That’s so sweet,” leaving everyone in the room totally in the dark as to what was so sweet that it was worthy of a remark. Gifts are easy. Cards are tricky.

One thing you don’t really plan for during the course of the party is dirty diapers and nap time. This is my first one year old party so I’m not used to being sensitive to that except for outings with my brother. You’re on a timeline and if Ellison goes past nap time, the party quickly disintegrates into a recovery mission. At this point, we had our eyes close on Ellison for the warning signs. She put up a pretty good fight for the most part. By the time, we finished opening gifts and guests started to leave, Ellison gave us one eye rub and we made our way back to the crib for some shut-eye. I couldn’t believe she made it that long. Quite the party animal.Guests started to leave and family remained. The kickball was now flat in the back yard and so we moved on to a rambunctious game of wiffle ball baseball. My brother clotheslined his son Parker, Dylan hit a line shot that nearly took out my father-in-law, few players sustained grass stains which made happy because there’s was actually enough moisture in my grass to stain jeans and even my mother and father got in the action. Last time I saw my mother play baseball, it was at a parent-child picnic. She was playing catcher and I was batting. I swung the bat and demolished her outreaching hand, breaking her wrist. Premiered the movie Ellison Jayne’s First Year, Nana started crying in the first minute of the 85-minute movie. That’s Nana, though. She’s a big fan. I’m gonna start working on a way of hosting it out on YouTube for those are that are inclined to watch some of it.Just heard a traffic report for Amarillo at 6:15am. I gotta think that’s not really a safe job. First off, there’s no traffic in Amarillo. Just ask anyone from Dallas, Houston or Austin. And, if you think there’s ever a traffic event, just move over a lane and accelerate and it’s over.

Thanks to everyone who helped with the birthday party and who came to celebrate Ellison Jayne’s first birthday. It was a great party. My lovely wife deserves tremendous acclaim. That girl can put together some kinda party. With all the tension, anxiety, traffic control, logistics that go into planning such a day, she pulled it off with ease. Lucky to have such a wonderful mama in this house and such an incredible wife. Happy birthday, Ellison Jayne.


Daily Operation

1 Year Birthday

You know, I think as new parents, you really want to be able to say things like, “Ah, it feels just like yesterday!” or “My, how time flies!” (even though I rarely start exclamatory statements with “my” or “ah”). I think you want to because it’s just been an absolute delight raising your little baby. We were watching the movie last night (you know, the movie…the one I’ve been tirelessly been working on for the last three months or so that I’ll be presenting at the birthday party tomorrow) and I see myself in the videos and I see Ellison and I kept thinking, “Man, what year is this?” It’s feels like three years ago.

I’m not gonna lie to you (to which you should thank me because in this relationship, it’d be really easy to lie): this year has been the longest year of my entire life. And, I would say, it’s largely because of the nights. Sleepless nights make days seem like weeks. Not that I haven’t enjoyed much of it along the way because I certainly have. It just seems like a total fabrication to say this year has flown by because I was having so much freaking fun. That it was like being at Six Flags everyday eating hot dogs and riding the Judge Roy Scream.

It’s hard work. It’s a full time job. A job that leaves you confused. Bewildered. It’s like that dream you’d have of showing up to the first day of school only to find out it’s not the first day of school but it’s a month away from finals and you don’t know the combination to your locker so you can’t get to your text books. Raising a child drives a nail of doubt and worry into your very core. It shakes you. You question every move. You become paranoid. You become hypersensitive. You cry without warning. Sometimes at commercials. You laugh hysterically. Sometimes at funerals. Delirium. The virtual land of confusion.

But make no mistake, I love this girl.

I have the privilege to come home everyday to the two greatest women in the world…my lovely wife and Ellison and there’s not much that tops that.

And, as we change gears now and high-tail it into the second year, undoubtedly, we’ll have more questions. More mysterious rashes. More sleepless nights. More cuts, scrapes and bruises that we can’t explain. We’ll cry. We’ll laugh. We’ll rejoice.

But we can’t proceed until we discuss what we learned this last month. So what did we learn?

  • We’re walking. Officially stepping into “toddler” phase. Everything needs to be four feet or taller.
  • She’d climb anything and everything if you would just turn your back long enough.
  • Pacifier life become thing of the past.
  • Bottle out. Sippy cup in. Independent feeding has commenced.
  • Swift and severe “no’s” are usually a fine deterrent, but get ready for a screaming fit with tears.
  • Coffee is still dad’s best friend. A cold beer is his second best friend.
  • Ellison’s inside voice is more suitable for large inside spaces.
  • No cuddling for this girl. If you ever had an opportunity, those days are long gone. Attempting to cuddle will be get either the “ironing board” or “death roll.” Choose your poison.
  • We’ve moved from describing size in “percentiles” to endearing adjectives.
  • If the training wheels weren’t off yet, they are now.

That’s it. Big ol’ birthday celebration tomorrow complete with lady bugs. Not real ones. The historical drought here in Tejas pretty much leveled the population of all bugs and insects. Doctor asked us the other day if we were doing a “princess birthday party.” Guess that’s customary for little girls. Glad we’re not the “princess” and “pink” type around here. I’ve seen more pink in the last twelve months than I’ve seen in my entire life. Honestly, a little tired of pink. Red and black is a nice change. And it comes just in time for the start of Texas Tech football. Fitting.


Parental Advisory

The Spirited Toddler Quiz, Part 2

In our look at spirited toddlers and answering the question of is Ellison spirited or just eccentric, we come to the second characteristic of most spirited toddlers…persistence. If there’s one thing about Ellison, she’s persistent, but how much more than any average toddler. Again, the goal here is to take an honest swipe at Ellison’s behavior and assess whether or not she’s clinically spirited (which there’s no such thing as “clinically” spirited because it’s not a clinical condition, but recognizing how you’re child’s different from others will help you develop good practices in teaching, correcting and loving this spirited child). Writes our author Mary Sheedy Kurcinka:

Persistent kids are committed to their tasks. If they want a cookie, they’ll keep coming back until they get one. They are goal-oriented, unwilling to give up easily. Many parents of spirited children are baffled by the fact that spirited children can be both persistent and perceptive. They wonder how spirited kids can forget two directions from their parents, yet remember the Kentucky Fried Chicken stand fifty miles back and insist on going there. They answer is simple. Spirited kids are persistent when they are motivated and personally interest in the idea or activity. If it’s their idea, they won’t let go of it. If it’s yours, they are much more interested in what else is going on in the world around them. They world needs people who are persistent, but as their parent you can expect to expend more energy and skill to win cooperation.

Bullheaded, stubborn, relentless. It’s a trait that can be especially irritating for a new parent. Long hours staring at yourself in the mirror trying to amp yourself up for another quarrel with your little one. Sleepless nights wondering why she hates you. Beating yourself up because this little baby who has only been on this green earth for eleven months doesn’t understand language and won’t stop climbing the screen on the fireplace. Asking what constitutes “abusive language” and have you crossed that line in correcting your persistent daughter? Look, when it’s the nature of child…if she’s truly spirited…the answers become much clearer. But first, let’s determine Ellison’s level of persistence.

Looking at these scenarios that help illustrate the persistence of a child or toddler, she certainly leans closer to the right hand side on the first scenario. I’ll give her a 4 outta 5 on the first one. Once she sees something she wants, determines where she wants to go or identifies a target, she’s gonna have it and won’t be denied access. This has proven to be especially challenging as she becomes a walker because she’s mere steps away from getting what she wants. She can scale walls, pull up on tables, turn things over, knock things down. When Ellison wants something she’s gonna get it. Why not a 5? Only because she can often be diverted or distracted by something else which disproves any “locks in” characteristic. When Tucker locks in, there’s gonna be blood. Ellison can be reasoned with. Secondly, the crying. We’re gonna give her a 3 on the duration of her crying. Lately, she can be pacified in about ten minutes or so. Sometimes we have bouts that last a longer, but nothing close to an hour. It feels like an hour sometimes because it’s in the middle of the night, but almost always they’re ended under a half hour…usually less than ten minutes. The last scenario deals with the acceptance of “no.” I’m proud to say that Ellison is very responsive to “no.” Our house rule on the word “no” is that it’s used sparingly and authoritatively. It’s a loud and succinct NO! not the machine gun “nananananananana!” or “eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh!” “No!” is unmistakeable. Brief. Like a quick explosive. Sometimes a little frightening to a toddler. But she responds very well when you speak her language. Don’t talk to her like a caveman and she will cease in most cases. She might go back to doing what she was doing later, but you can break the immediate behavior with “no” most of the time. I’m going to give her a 3 outta 5 for the reason that she sometimes will break only as long as you’re looking and then she’ll go back to doing what she was doing as soon as you’re not looking.

Altogether, we’re gonna give Ellison a 3.33 rating on persistence. More persistent than an average child, but only slightly. I told my lovely wife that I was scoring her 3.33 outta 5 and she gave me the same look that I’d expect if I told her that discovered a third arm growing from the middle of my back and the hand had seven fingers. You’d know the look if you saw it.

This brings our score to 7.33 outta 10 total. If you’re tired of me using the word “outta” already, let me know. It’s a word in my world. And the Mac’s dictionary also recognizes it:

outta |ˈoutə| (also outa)prepositionan informal contraction of “out of,” used in representing colloquial speech : we’d better get outta here.

On that note, I’d better get outta here. The kiddo’s waking up.

Parental Advisory

The Spirited Toddler Quiz, Part 1

“Spirited”…formerly “difficult” or “strong-willed”…whatever you choose to call it, it’s occurs in about 10% of all children and, sometimes, it’s difficult to identify it because, if you’re like me, you thought all babies and toddlers were like that. Writes Mary Sheedy Kurcinka in Raising Your Spirited Child:

The word that distinguishes spirited children from other children is more. They are normal children who are more intense, persistent, sensitive, perceptive and uncomfortable with change than all other children. All children possess these characteristics, but spirited kids possess them with a depth and range not available to other children. Spirited kids are the Super Ball in a room full of rubber balls. Other kids bounce three feet off the ground. Ever bounce for a spirited child hits the ceiling.

I’ve noticed that it’s easy for parents (and, yes, I include myself in the category of “parents”…although not always) to pick and choose how they perceive behaviors. Anything they internally perceive as bad, oddball or not right, their inner-voice of defense goes into apologist mode and says, “Aw, Jeff. All kids are like that.” Conversely, if your kid does something that is good, exceptional or way right, your inner-voice tends to “pedestal” it. You act like it’s something incredible or amazing when, the reality is, it’s probably nothing extraordinary. Both represent ways that parents react to the stimulus of a new baby. I think employing both can be damaging to a kid’s makeup. Your toddler’s floating on a cloud, protected from consequence, criticism and reality. Of course, the opposite can be just as damaging too. If you only accentuate your child’s less favorable characteristics and never recognize good things your child does, can probably disrupt healthy development in the child, blurred concepts of reward and consequence and will most likely lead to a life of crime and deviancy. Okay, I just made up that last part for emphasis.

But being able to honestly assess your child and her characteristics is crucial in diagnosing her as or disproving a “spirited” status. Strip down the characteristics to their bare bones. Offer no apology or praise. It’s a yes or no. Of course, just as I say that, it’s a weighted scale that we’re gonna use. So, for those that live in perpetual grey areas, you’re safe.

The Spirited Toddler Quiz is one using a weighted scale on nine characteristics exhibited by your toddler and, at the end, the range of the sum of those nine individual scores either puts them in the “cool,” “spunky” or “spirited” categories. Or, as I prefer: Fonzarelli, Donald Duck or Sam Kinison. Spirited status is not a death sentence. Realize that the same term in an adult could be considered a positive attribute. It’s just important to determine a name for what you’re dealing with first so you can adjust your reactions to the situation. Education’s key to well-rounded parenting. Either from a book, from others or the old-fashion dive head-first into the blazing inferno…or all three.

So, let’s move onto the first question in the Spirited Toddler Quiz…intensity.

Well, I can tell you this: Ellison has never squeaked during a cry and she has definitely wailed. If you’re a Raising Elle reader, you know this. In fact, I keep monitors at about 15% volume strength simply because you really don’t need them with Ellison. She doesn’t have a low volume so amplifying her scream is downright deafening. In houses without carpet, she’s pretty much her own monitor. Secondly, are we ever surprised when she gets upset? Not really. We’ve come to know what’s gonna set her off. The other day, I was trying to get something away from her that she wasn’t supposed to have and my lovely wife warned me, “Better give her something else first.” Mommy knew. Sure enough, I snag it from her hands and I’m looking down the barrel of a colossal phantom tantrum. Then, five seconds later, she laughs at me, smiles and walks away like nothing ever happened. Guess I would call that a “living staircase of emotion.” Third, reactions are either mild or deep and powerful. I’m gonna go slightly above average on this one. She has mild reactions in her arsenal. Not everything is a karate chop to the throat. Which leads us here to whether or not she simply smiles when happy of shouts with glee. She’s definitely more apt to show happiness or approval though vocalizing. Smiles are usually accessorized with laughter or, my personal favorite, “ah-ha!” Lastly, does she usually work through a problem without becoming frustrated or is the easily frustrated. I’m gonna say that she’s not easily frustrated. We were noticing when she was walking early with the walking assistant that when she’d run into the wall, she’d back it up, navigate it into another direction and then barrel along on her way. She’s really good at playing things like “hide the toy” or “where’s daddy.” When we give her simple challenges, she usually takes them on with exuberance. I’m gonna fall on the lower end of that scale.

No doubt, our first year could definitely be considered intense, but after we lift the veil of colic and RSV, what’s is Ellison’s intensity overall? I’m calculating it here as an overall rating of 4 outta 5.

Kurcinka writes, “Spirited children experience every emotion and sensation deeply and powerfully. Their hearts pound, the adrenaline flows through their bodies. There is actually a physical reaction that occurs more strongly in their bodies than in less intense individuals. They are not loud because they know it irritates people; they are loud because they really feel that much excitement, pain or whatever the motion or sensation might be. Their intensity is real. It is their first and most natural reaction. If you have circled a 4 or a 5, you can predict that you child will be easily excited, frustrated or emoitional. When you know your child is intense, you can expect a strong reaction and develop a plan to help your child express her reaction appropriately to diffuse it.”

Next time, we’ll be looking at persistence. It’s 6:15am and I hear her in the other room waking up…typical Ellison style…wailing. Daddy making the donuts on a Saturday morning.