They can be loud, obnoxious and insistent on getting their own way. Or they are sly, devious and untrustworthy. Naughty kids are worth avoiding.
Or are they?
While exhausted parents may dream of the day their kids become beautifully behaved, would you really want Stepford Kids? Would you not miss out on some of the most determined, entrepreneurial and sensitive people you’ll have the opportunity to meet.
And think about it. Were you always perfectly behaved when you were a kid? Or even now? Do you sometimes still get angry, have a tantrum or dig your heels in? Do you ever give up when the going gets tough or refuse to eat food that you think looks disgusting? Are you ever rude or impatient?
These kids are normal human beings, just like you. And some of those “naughty” traits might just turn out to be early signs of leadership when they are older. Here’s how:
1. They are independent
All too often, ‘naughty’ is a word we use for kids who think for themselves. While conformity is admired at school, our greatest entrepreneurs, scientists and artists do things their own way. Often, the qualities of these kids is not appreciated until much later in life, when their ability to think for themselves and make things happen drives their success. Think of Richard Branson, Albert Einsten and Lady Gaga, all of whom ‘failed’ at school.
2. They are creative
Naughty kids don’t just think for themselves, they often think differently from others. Their creativity cannot be curbed. While adults get told to ‘think out of the box’ these kids have never been in the box in the first place.
3. They are sensitive
Often the most sensitive kids are the ones who are written off as naughty. They can’t stand pain or injustice, and so kick off into a tantrum when they see it. In little children, this is often on their own behalf. As they grow up, and their ability to empathize develops, their sensitivity can lead to deep acts of generosity towards others in need.
4. They have conviction
Great world-changing leaders, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Aung Sang Suu Kyi, could not be described as easy people. Awkward and opinionated may be a fairer description. But they lived with conviction and determination, fighting injustice despite imprisonment and persecution, and toppled despotic regimes as a result. It’s not quite as inspiring when the ‘despotic regime’ is actually a parent wanting to get their child to eat their vegetables!
5. They are strong
Human beings are social animals. Having the willpower to stand up to social pressures is impressive. Kids who go against the grain, dressing differently, following their own interests and speaking their mind are demonstrating courage and strength. In their teen years, when separation from parental control is normal, being downright rude and obnoxious can be a way of subconsciously driving that separation, while proving to the kids that they still have the safety of their parents love.
6. They want to be understood
Kids often get loud or have a tantrum when they feel disrespected or unheard. Although this may not be the most constructive way to get their point across, these kids have found a way to communicate their wants, something many of us have subsumed to the demands of other people (including those same kids!). Often, children will calm down if they feel you’ve understood them, even if the answer is still “no.”
7. They say what is on their mind
We’ve all had those moments when a child has said exactly what they are thinking, probably at the top of their voices. They tell relatives when they don’t like the expensive present they’ve been given. They point and stare at people with visible disabilities. Rude though these comments may be, your kid’s directness is often meant as honesty without malice. They don’t intend to hurt anyone’s feelings. They are curious, rather than judgmental, about people who are different. What is more, they will speak the truths that everyone else is thinking but no-one else has the honesty to voice.
8. They have energy
Although they may seem far more angelic when they sleep, your kid’s energy is admirable. It is the energy of athletes, adventurers and leaders. Like puppies, your kids may need to be given opportunities (both physical and mental) to burn off their energy. That exercise will develop their capacity and their ability to control themselves.
9. They are ambitious
Have you ever had a picture in your head, but when you try to draw it, it looks nothing like your ideal? Your kids haven’t yet learned that this is normal. They haven’t yet learned to cope with the frustration. The resulting tantrum is an expression of the gap between the quality of their original vision and their inability to perfectly realize that vision. It demonstrates ambition and discernment.
10. They are scientists
Kids (like the rest of us) learn by doing. They are great problem solvers, full of cunning and resourcefulness. They learn by trying something and seeing what happens. Naughty kids are just trying stuff out. Loud, destructive, difficult stuff, perhaps. But that is how they learn what works and what doesn’t. And that is how they also discover that you, their parents, still love them, even if they are naughty. Because…
11. They are lovable
Your kids are a part of you, while also being completely themselves. One reason it feels tough when they are naughty is that you love them so much. You want them to succeed. You want them to be appreciated by others. You want them to be happy.
So remember, being good all the time would only hold them back. And you wouldn’t want that, would you?