Challenging Children: The Upside

When we parent a challenging child, it's easy to pay attention to the intensity, the challenge and the things that push our buttons. Generally, what we are referring to are temperamental traits that push our buttons, are difficult or are a challenge to us. Often, we pay attention to the downside of those characteristics, but there is an upside, too. We need to pay attention to those just as much as we pay attention to the parts that are challenging to us. 

So, let's take a look the upside...

1. No holding back. 

They express their feelings without holding back.  It's hard to imagine these kids ever developing ulcers.  If they are anxious or worried about something, they will let you know.  If they are mad, you won't be left in the dark.  If they are disappointed, you as well as the neighbor two doors down will hear about it. (Note: Anxiety can manifest as anger, agitation and more.  Pay close attention to times during which your child becomes overly emotional.  It may be their "normal", or it may be anxiety. Be sure to seek the input from a qualified and licensed behavioral health provider, if you suspect your child has anxiety.  Like most concerns, the earlier it is treated, the better. Ask your family doctor for a referral.)

2.  No questions. 

You  will never be in the dark when it comes to knowing where you stand with intense kids. You are going to hear about every single thing that might be upsetting and may be something that causes problems for them. There is no question. And the good news about that, if you ask me, is that you get the opportunity to help them problem solve and figure out a better way to handle things. 

3.  Sensitivity. 

They often have a sensitivity for things that others do not.  They experience emotions with such ferocity, it is hard for those of us who do not share in their zest for life to sometimes understand. Help kids learn to embrace this sensitivity, without letting it control them.  This can absolutely be done. Arming kids with the skills to manage anger and disappointment can go a far way.

4.  It Goes Both Ways. 

To the degree that they express intense discomfort and disappointment, they give equal measure to the more upbeat feelings of joy and excitement.  I like to think about these kids as "living large".  If you love listening to the rafter-shaking whoops of an intense, laughing kid, remember the flip-side of that is equal intensity when things go south. It really can help you, as a parent or care provider to keep this in mind during challenging times.

5.  They have the capacity for greatness. 

I'm a firm believer that every human being has this capacity.  Intense kids, even more so.  They have so much energy, and they just need help learning how to channel it.  Once they can do so, they will soar. 

What Do You Think?

What do you see as the upside of having an intense kid? We'd love to hear about it! Share in the comments below!

If you are parenting a challenging child, we invite you to join us for our online class that provides you with the latest neuroscience to help you get things to a place of calm at your home. Stop raising your voice, stop raising your blood pressure and start raising your child with strategies that make a difference! Find it all at The Joyful Parent.

Until next time,

Wendy Young, LMSW, BCD, is  the founder of Kidlutions and co-author of BLOOM: 50 Things to Say, Think and Do with Anxious, Angry and Over-the-Top Kids, co-creator of BLOOM Brainsmarts, and creator of The Joyful Parent. She is the creator of numerous workbooks and resources to help from the preschool through the teen years. 

Follow her on PinterestInstagramTwitter and Facebook! She'd love to see your smiling face there! Affiliate links may be used in this post. Please see our full disclaimer, located at the top of our page for more information.


Jean Tracy, MSS said…
Hi Wendy,

I appreciate the focus in this blog about the intense child. Your advice to parents is tops. I'll be sure and share this post and hope others do to.
Hi Jean,

Thanks so much for your kind words and thanks also, for the good work you do!

Wendy =)

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