Sample text for The difficult child / by Stanley Turecki with Leslie Tonner.

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Counter Do You Have a Difficult Child?


1. Do you find your child hard to raise?

2. Do you find the child's behavior hard to understand?

3. Are you often battling the child?

4. Do you feel inadequate or guilty as a parent?

5. Is your marriage or family life being affected by the child?


The headings below identify possibly difficult areas of your child's temperament (his or her innate makeup). Rate your child, in an overall way, on each item, using this scale:

0 = No problem (never present or just a little)
1 = Moderate problem (sometimes present)
2 = Definite problem (often present)
3 = Extreme problem (nearly always or always)

HIGH ACTIVITY LEVEL: Restless, squirmy, fidgety; always into things, "hyper," makes you tired; "ran before he walked"; easily overstimulated; trouble sitting still or playing quietly; "motormouth"; hates to be confined; easily gets wild or "revved up."

IMPULSIVITY: Acts without thinking; quick hot temper, easily frustrated; impatient, excitable; interrupts, calls out, doesn't await turn; grabs or pushes; can lose control and become aggressive; can suddenly take off.

DISTRACTIBILITY: Has problems focusing and paying attention, especially if not really interested; trouble following instructions; doesn't "listen," tunes you out, daydreams; disorganized, forgetful.

HIGH INTENSITY: Loud voice; forceful, overwhelming; strong emotions whether miserable, angry, or happy.

IRREGULARITY: Unpredictable body rhythms; can't tell when he'll be hungry or tired, resulting in conflicts over meals and bedtime; wakes up at night; erratic toilet habits.

NEGATIVE PERSISTENCE: Very strong-willed, stubborn; goes on and on nagging, whining, or negotiating if wants something; relentless, won't give up, wears you down; gets "locked in"; may have long tantrums.

LOW SENSORY THRESHOLD: Physically, not emotionally sensitive; highly aware of color, light, appearance, texture, sound, smell, taste, or temperature (not necessarily all of these); "creative," but with strong and sometimes unusual preferences that can be embarrassing; bothered by bright lights and loud noises; particular, picky; clothes have to feel or look right; doesn't like the way many foods look, smell, or taste; feels too cold (or too hot) when no one else does.

INITIAL WITHDRAWAL: Shy and reserved with new adults and/or children; doesn't like new situations and unfamiliar settings; holds back or protests by crying, clinging, or tantruming if forced to go forward.

POOR ADAPTABILITY: Has trouble with transition and change of activity or routine; inflexible, notices minor details; gets used to things and won't give them up; can want the same clothes or foods over and over; "creature of habit"; even after initial response takes a long time to adapt.

NEGATIVE MOOD: Serious or cranky, doesn't show pleasure openly; not a "sunny" disposition.



0-1          + 4-7 points          = Some difficult features

2-3          + 8-14 points         = Difficult child

4-5          + 15 or more points   = Very difficult child

If you recognize your child in this questionnaire, or suspect for other reasons that your child is indeed "difficult", then you need to know these basic facts:

Difficult children are normal. They are not emotionally disturbed, mentally ill, or brain damaged. Well-meaning relatives or other parents may have suggested that "something must be wrong with him." You may have worried a lot about this yourself. So let's get a new perspective. "Difficult" is very different from "abnormal." In today's climate, with ever-increasing numbers of children being "diagnosed," this is a very important distinction for parents to keep in mind.

Difficult children are like this because of their innate makeup. And that makeup is their inborn temperament. They are not like this because of something you as parents have done to them. It's not your fault. And it's not the child's fault, either. He didn't ask to be born difficult.

Difficult children are hard to raise. Of course, you know this already. But if you think of it as a basic fact of existence, it will help you cope better. This is the way your child is, but by understanding him better and learning about his temperament you will be able to manage him successfully. He will then be a great deal easier to raise.

Difficult children are not all the same. The picture differs depending on which areas of temperament come into play. Difficult children also range from the basically easy child with some difficult features, to the extreme of the very difficult, perhaps even impossible, child.

Difficult children make their parents feel angry, inadequate, or guilty. And these parental feelings can lead to one of the biggest problems with difficult children, a loss of parental authority. Parents feel their child no longer "listens" to them, that she is the one in control. Inconsistency and excessive punishment follow. "Nothing works" is the most common statement parents make about their efforts to discipline the child.

Difficult children can create marital strain, family discord, problems with siblings, and end up with emotional problems of their own


Difficult children can become positive, enthusiastic, perhaps even especially creative individuals if they are well managed when young. And teaching you how to do this is the goal of this book.

Library of Congress subject headings for this publication: Problem children, Child rearing, Hyperactive children, Child psychology