Stanley Turecki, M.D. -- Do you have a difficult child?

My son is six now but the first five years were so tough. He was my first child and I did not have much experience with kids. Well, I really got a crash course in parenting. He was a lovely and angelic child in public. But at home he was a tyrant that tried to run the household and destroy his family. He was hyperactive and very strong willed(i.e.stubborn). My husband and I were hit and spit on. The walls were filled with his crayon sribbles and he refused to go to bed until almost midnight everyday. These were just a few examples. I needed help and my pediatrician recommended a book entitled "The Difficult Child: Expanded and Revised Edition".
It helped me to understand that each child has their own temperment. They all deserve to be treated as individuals and traditional parenting styles do not work for everyone. I felt as if Dr. Turecki had been voyuering my home because he described our family's situation so accurately.

You can fill out the questionnaire below to figure out your child's temperment. It is also listed on Dr. Turecki's

Answer “YES” or “NO”

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)

Rate from 0 to 3

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, doesn't show pleasure openly; not a sunny disposition.


0-1******************** +4-7 points************= Somewhat difficult
2-3******************** +8-14 points***********= Difficult child
4-5******************** +15 or more points*****= Very difficult child


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