The Fussy Baby Site

Using Positive Labels With Our Spirited Child

Using positive labels to describe our spirited child is not only good for them, but it can actually change the way we perceive their behaviors, and even the way we feel about them.

If we are constantly using negative words to refer to our kids, even if only in our minds, we will start to believe them and begin to think of our children in that light.

Mary Sheedy Kurcinka suggests training ourselves to choose positive labels when we think and talk about our spirited child:

Old Negative Labels

  • Demanding
  • Unpredictable
  • Loud
  • Argumentative
  • Stubborn
  • Nosy
  • Wild
  • Extreme
  • Inflexible
  • Manipulative
  • Impatient
  • Anxious
  • Explosive
  • Picky
  • Whiny
  • Distractible

Positive Labels

  • Hold high standards
  • Flexible, a creative problem solver
  • Enthusiastic and zestful
  • Opinionated, strongly committed to one’s goals
  • Assertive, willing to persist in the face of obstacles
  • Curious
  • Energetic
  • Tenderhearted
  • Traditional
  • Charismatic
  • Compelling
  • Cautious
  • Dramatic
  • Selective
  • Analytical
  • Perceptive


It take practice to make the switch from using negative to positive labels, but it can make a huge impact on not only how you view our child’s behavior, but also on how you feel about your child and how react to him or her.

If your child is having a meltdown because her sibling looked at her the wrong way or inadvertently touched her toy, make it a practice to think of her as dramatic and as having a sensitive heart – this extreme sensitivity may be annoying in this moment, however as she learns to channel this sensitivity, it may also mean a keen empathy for the troubles of others, or as she gets older even a strong advocacy against social injustices.

Using Positive Labels Can Change How Children Think of Themselves

Kids learn to think of themselves in terms of the labels we use for them.

Think of the labels (good or bad) your parents used for you when you were little. It’s probably not hard to think of at least a couple, and it’s also likely you still use some of those labels in your own self-talk.

This is why it’s so important that we learn to use positive and affirming labels.

Would you rather your child think of him or herself as:

  • Stubborn, or committed to their goals?
  • Loud, or dramatic?
  • Wild, or energetic?
  • A picky eater, or a selective eater?


Using negative labels can be damaging and are usually not very productive. It’s not too late to change the way you talk and think about your child’s temperament though.

Make a habit of using positive labels and in time your child will start to understand that their sensitivity and energy are valuable assets when they are used properly.


Photo credit: Kai4107